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Film Details

Production companyFirst National Pictures Inc
Country of originUSA
ProducerMcCORMICK, John
DirectorSEITER, William A.
Script/AdaptationGERAGHTY, Tom J.
PhotographyHICKOX, Sid
EditingHALL, Al
Art directionGROT, Anton
Music composerSILVERS, Louis
Songs'A Wee Bit of Love', 'Then I'll Ride Home With You', 'Old Killarney Fair' by Norman Spencer, Herman Ruby; 'Smiling Irish Eyes' by Ray Perkins.
CastColleen Moore (Kathleen O'Connor), James Hall (Rory O'More), Robert Homans (Shamus O'Connor), Claude Gillingwater (Michael Q O'Connor), Tom O'Brien ('Black' Barney O'Toole), Robert Emmett O'Connor (Sir Timothy Tyrone), Aggie Herring (Grandmother O'More), Betty Francisco (Frankie West), Julanne Johnston (Goldie De Vere), Edward Earle (George Prescott), Fred Kelsey (County Fair manager), Barney Gilmore, Charles McHugh (his assistants), Madame Bosocki (fortune-teller), George Hayes (taxi driver), Anne Schaefer (landlady), John Beck (Sir Timothy's butler), Oscar Apfel (Max North), Otto Lederer (Izzy Levi), William Strauss (Moe Levi), Dave Thursby (Scotch Barker), Dan Crimmins (the trouble-maker).
Release date1929
SummaryIn Kerry, Rory O'More, a musician who works in an Irish peat bog, and his girlfriend, Kathleen O'Connor, together write a song, 'Smiling Irish Eyes'. 'Black' Barney O'Toole appears and breaks Rory's violin and takes Kathleen's pet pig, Aloysius. At the fair the next day Kathleen catches the greased pig and wins enough money in a contest to allow Rory to go America to study. He promises to send for her as soon as he makes good. Although he writes letters daily to Kathleen, he does not post them, determined to hold them until he has good news to go with them. Finally he gets a job playing the violin in a theatrical production. Despondent at not hearing from him, Kathleen borrows money to go to America and to bring Rory back to Ireland. She returns to Ireland in a huff when she sees Rory on stage at the Garrick Theatre playing their song, 'Smiling Irish Eyes', while a girl kisses him. They are reconciled when Rory appears in Ireland, and after explaining the kiss to Kathleen's satisfaction, they sing 'Smiling Irish Eyes' by the wishing well. Later, the whole family migrate to the USA. (Adapted from NYT 2/7/1929:23; AFI Catalog 1921-1930:735-6).
NoteSound Version: 8,550 ft. USA Rel 28/7/1929; silent version, 7,932 ft. USA Rel 22/9/1929. IR Rel 7/2/1930 (sound version). Copy: UCLA (sound discs only). Before the release of SMILING IRISH EYES at Dublin's Savoy Cinema on 7 February 1930 cuts were made to it by the exhibitor. Even so, there were complaints by film reviewers and audiences alike about the film's 'stage Irishness', and a demonstration against the film in the cinema four days later forced the cancellation of its run. For an accnt. of the controversy see Rockett et al, 1987:53-5. 'At times waves of nausea swept over me and the screen became a blur. Mercifully the dialogue was almost completely inaudible except for the occasional 'arrah'.... Enter Colleen herself; she plays with the pigs. O, yes, she plays with the pigs for quite a long time... Evidently the producers have run out of real Irish costumes, for there are Breton fisherfolk and Tyrolese peasants mingling in the crowd'. (Mary Manning, Irish Statesman, 22/2/1930:497). 'How anyone, with a piece of box office material as valuable as the personality and following of this star, could permit so utterly a poor picture to be released is beyond comprehension. Not only is Miss Moore seen to disadvantage, but the story, the dialog, direction and support are all bad. Jimmy Hall... hasn't done anything quite as bad as this in his whole picture career. Then [there are] the two roles played by Claude Gillingwater and Robert Homans, which are supposed to supply the comedy relief. If they don't bring down the wrath of the Irish societies in America on the heads of everyone connected with the picture then we are very much mistaken. In continuity and construction it is hard to find anything that is worthy of even the slightest praise... When [James Hall's] first fiddle was smashed the audience heaved a sigh of relief, only to start laughing aloud when he is presented with another one a few minutes later, for they realized that there was no escaping further torture.' ('Colleen Moore at Her Worst', MPN 27/7/1929:375). 'It was surely the longest, slowest, dullest picture ever made'. Colleen Moore, in her autobiography. Silent Star (Garden City, New Jersey: Doubleday & Co, 1968:198). Colleen Moore recalls singing 'Come Back to Erin' in the film. This film was originally scheduled to be made as a silent film in 1927 and to be directed by Mervyn LeRoy.
ReferenceDEM 8/2/1930:6; EH 12/2/1930:7; FD 28/7/1929; II 8/2/1930:10;
12/2/1930:11; Irish Statesman 12/4/1930:116-17; IT 12/2/1930:7; Leader (Dublin), Vol 60, No 4, 22/2/1930:77; Photoplay Oct 1929:151; Var 21/7/1929:17.
Production creditsp.c: First National Pictures Inc, p: John McCormick, d: William A Seiter, story/sc/titles/dial: Tom J Geraghty, c: Sid Hickox, Henry Freulich, set d: Anton Grot, ed: Al Hall, m: Louis Silvers, songs: 'A Wee Bit of Love', 'Then I'll Ride Home With You', 'Old Killarney Fair' by Norman Spencer, Herman Ruby; 'Smiling Irish Eyes' by Ray Perkins, choreo: Larry Ceballos, Walter Wills, Carl McBride, a.d: James Dunne, ward: Edward Stevenson.
Genre/CategoryFeature Film Drama
Musical Drama
KeywordsRural Ireland

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