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Film Details

Production companyEmmet Dalton Productions
Country of originIreland
ProducerELLIMAN, Louis
DirectorO'DONOVAN, Fred
EditingSAVAGE, Norman
Music composerBEHAN, Brendan
Music performanceBEHAN, Brendan
Songs'The Old Triangle' (Brendan Behan)
Production date1960
Release date1960
TX channelTelifis Eireann
TX date29/11/1960
SummaryInterview with Brendan Behan conducted by Eamonn Andrews. Behan discusses his writing, his infamous behaviour, his religious beliefs, his time in borstal, the 'catacombs', other writers, and his involvement in the IRA.
NoteA new 35mm print of this film is held by the Irish Film Archive. The film stock date (1959) indicates that this interview cannot have been recorded before 1959 and may have been conducted after '59. This would place the interview towards the end of Behan's life, he died in 1964. Pretty well all of his major work had been written and published by 1960. Behan wrote very little after his visit that year to New York to attend the American premiere of his play, The Hostage. The visit proved disastrous to his health and much of what he produced after 1960 - for example the popular and entertaining books Brendan Behan's Island and Brendan Behan's New York - was with the assistance of the tape recorder. Brendan Behan (1923 - 1964) came from a noted and highly talented Dublin working-class family. They were highly active in the Republican movement. One uncle, Peadar Kearney, penned the national anthem Amhran na bhFiann (The Soldier's Song). Another, PJ Bourke, scripted and acted in one of the earliest feature films made in Ireland - Irish a Nation a copy of which is held by the Irish Film Archive. In the Oxford Companion to Irish Literature (Robert Welch, ed.) he is also credited as the producer of the film. However the producer credit in the Irish Film Archive record is given to Walter MacNamara who is furthermore credited with directing and co-scripting the film. Bourke also was a playwright (writing patriotic melodramas) and went on to manage the (now defunct) Queen's Theatre. Behan took after his uncle Peadar Kearney in becoming a house painter and a Republican activist (his father also was a house painter). He joined the youth wing of the movement, Fianna Eireann at an early age. In 1939, still a teenager, he was arrested in Liverpool for taking part in the 1939 IRA bombing campaign in Britain. It was while serving his sentance in a British borstal that he began to read widely and to write. He was released and deported to Ireland in 1941. shortly after he was arrested for attempted murder of a detective and sentenced to 14 years, he served five years.Through the 1950s Behan produced much admired verse in the Irish language, a series of acclaimed plays [including the two radio plays Moving Out (1952) and The Big House (1957); The Quare Fellow (1956) and The Hostage/An Giall (1958) and (mainly for the Irish Press newspaper) much journalism]. The interviewer in this film is the noted Irish-born broadcaster Eamon Andrews. The first chairman of the state-owned broadcasting organisation RTE, which role he took as a full time post until 196?, Andrews began his broadcasting career with one of the precursors of RTE, Radio Eireann which was established in 1926 and in 1966 was merged with Teilifis Eireann (which was established in 1962). In 19?? Eamon Andrews moved to Britain and became a leading broadcaster with the BBC working in radio and television. He was at one stage Britain's highest paid broadcaster working in both sports commentating and light entertainment (presenting shows such as What's My Line and most famously, This Is Your Life. He was also a noted television interviewer and host. Andrews could, as much as Behan, play the role of the archetypal Dubliner - could engage in gossip, conversation and reciting verse. During the 1960s? he took over the Gaiety Theatre and also owned the (now defunct) Eamon Andrews Studios in Harcourt Street. Notes from Fred O'Donovan October 2002 Was to be first in a series of interviews with literary and other prominent figures (including Sean O'Casey, President Kennedy). However, within a short time of completion of this first film many of those selected for interview had died. It was made for television - shot with four cameras. Sold for international television by BBC.
Production creditsp.c.: Emmet Dalton Productions, p: Louis Elliman, d: Fred O'Donovan, ed: Norman Savage, b&w, 30 mins, TX RTE 29/11/1960,Copy: IFA
LocationDublin, Trinity College, Fourcourts, Customs House, Christchurch, Bridge of Sighs.
PeopleBrendan Behan
Eamon Andrews

Contact: | Last updated: Nov 27 2006.