15 Good Saint Patrick’s Day Movies

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Watching good Saint Patrick’s Day movies is the perfect alternative to drinking yourself into a coma or having a brawl over which Red Sox player is the best of all time. Each of the films listed below prominently feature Irish characters, and many are also set on the Emerald Isle. There’s plenty of red-headed lovemaking, drunken brawls, and even a few mentions of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. So turn on the DVD or Blu-ray player, turn off House of Pain, and get ready for an evening filled with shamrocks and shenanigans.

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State of Grace (1990) – Sean Penn stars as Terry Noonan, and intense Irish-American who shows up in his old Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood after a 12-year absence. He’s welcomed back by his best friend, Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman), and his older brother, Frankie Flannery (Ed Harris). The Flannery family controls the local criminal element, but they’re looking to make an alliance with the Italian mob before gentrification squeezes them out. Terry has a few secrets to keep, which is made more difficult when he encounters his former lover, Kathleen (Robin Wright Penn), the younger sister of Jackie and Frankie.

On the Waterfront (1954) – Marlon Brando delivers a legendary performance as Terry Malloy, a washed-up boxer pressured into testifying against a vicious mob boss (Lee J. Cobb). Includes the famous “I coulda been a contender speech.” Inspired by a real-life series of newspaper articles detailing extortion and corruption on the docks of Brooklyn and Manhattan. Also starring Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Eva Marie Saint.

The Brothers McMullen (1995) – Ed Burns got himself placed on the Hollywood map with this tale of three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island who must grapple with issues of faith, love and family. Made on a budget of just over $23,000 and shot using equipment borrowed while Burns worked for Entertainment Tonight.

Mystic River (2003) – Based on the Dennis Lehane novel and directed by Clint Eastwood, Mystic River assembles an all-star cast for the tragic tale of a murdered girl and three childhood friends caught up in the events surrounding her death: Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), the investigating officer; Jimmy Markum(Sean Penn), the girl’s father; and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), the neighbor who may have killed her. Also starring Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney.

The Boondock Saints (2000) – Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery star as Irish Catholic brothers in Boston who become vigilantes dedicated to weeding out the criminal underworld. Willem Dafoe is the eccentric, homosexual FBI agent on their trail, and Billy Connolly is the legendary assassin hired to kill them. Directed by Troy Duffy, the film went on to become a cult classic and produce a 2009 sequel.

Miller’s Crossing (1990) – The Coen brothers try their hands at a mob movie in this tale of a man (Gabriel Byrne) who plays two rival criminal organizations against one another during Prohibition. Albert Finney steals the show as a Irish mob boss who’s real handy with a machine gun, and John Turturro plays perhaps one of the most unlikable characters in film history. Overlooked during its initial run, it has since found a place on many critic’s “best of” lists.

Finian’s Rainbow (1968) – Did you know that Francis Ford Coppola directed a musical? Well, here it is. Fred Astaire plays a scoundrel named Finian McLonergan who steals a pot of gold from a leprechaun and heads to America. The leprechaun gives chase and all manner of craziness follows, including a bigoted white politician getting turned into a black man, and a African American botanist who wants to grow mentholated tobacco (the last one sounds like a Chappelle’s Show skit).

The Departed (2006) – Martin Scorsese turned out his biggest box-office success with this remake of Hong Kong’s Infernal Affairs. Set in Boston, the story revolves around Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), an undercover cop infiltrating the Irish mob led by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a criminal who’s joined the Massachusetts State Police to act as an informant for Costello. When both sides realize they have a rat on their hands, a frantic race begins to find the guilty party. Lots of Irish attitude, Bostonian accents, and Jack Nicholson waving around a black dildo.

Gangs of New York (2002) – The issue of Irish immigration is a major theme of this Martin Scorsese film. When his father (Liam Neeson) is killed in battle with “Bill the Butcher” Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a young man named Amsterdam (Leonardo DiCaprio) vows revenge. Years later, the grown Amsterdam returns to the Five Points district of New York and seeks to keep his word.

The MatchMaker (1997) – Janeane Garofalo stars as Marcy Tizzard, a Senator’s assistant who gets sent to a village in Ireland to trace his lineage and try to help gain the Irish American vote in an upcoming election. But she arrives during the village’s matchmaking festival, and two experts in the profession set their sights on helping her fall in love. Denis Leary, David O’Hara, Milo O’Shea and Jay O. Sanders co-star in this romantic example of good Saint Patrick’s Day movies.

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) – A young Irish girl is sent to live with her grandparents on the coast of Ireland, a place where the magical selkies–seals that can shed their skin to look human–are said to dwell. A surprise indie hit written and directed by John Sayles.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959) – An elderly Irishman, Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharpe) matches wits with leprechauns, and Sean Connery gets in on the action. According to the movie poster, this Disney film features “A touch O’blarney…a heap O’magic and a load O’laughter.”

The Commitments (1991) – A group of unemployed Dublin residents decide to form the world’s greatest soul band, despite the fact that they’re all white. Comedy and drama mixed with some damn fine music (performed by the actual actors and actresses).

The Quiet Man (1952) – John Wayne stars in this rollicking tale of a former boxer who returns to Ireland to reclaim his family farm. He falls in love with the spirited Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), but the romance is opposed at every turn by her older brother, “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). Lots of comedy, romance, fighting, and beautiful shots of the Irish countryside.

This is My Father (1998) – In effort to learn more about the father he never knew, Kieran Johnson (James Caan) travels to Ireland in the 1990s. Once there, he hears stories about the romance between Kieran O’Dea (Aidan Quinn) and Fiona Flynn (Moya Farrelly), the 1930’s couple who would later become his parents. An overlooked film with a lot to offer, the supporting cast includes Colm Meaney, John Cusack and Brendan Gleeson.

If you’ve completed this list of good Saint Patrick’s Day movies, and you haven’t passed out from all the beer, then why not give these other posts a try. By the way, all the films on this list are available from Netflix, and we get a small commission for sending you there (allowing us to slowly build up our own pot o’gold).

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 at 3:59 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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