Darby OGill and the Little People on DVD
Back in the golden age of the Walt Disney studios they released not only classic
animation, but classic live action films as well. Such titles as Old Yeller,
The Swiss Family Robinson and 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea and many more established Disneys studio
as not only a creator of great storytelling, but of innovative and family friendly
fare as well.
Hence Darby OGill and the Little People, a delightful 1959 musical fantasy
that features great entertainment, wonderfully creative special effects and
an early performance by a young Sean Connery in which he sings his way into
a young girls heart.
Darby OGill (wonderfully portrayed by Albert Sharpe) is a very underestimated
Irish fellow. He looks and sounds like an amiable dunce, a boozy teller of tall
tales. But when he talks about his experiences with Brian Connors, King of the
Leprechauns, he isnt just whistling Dixie (or should we say whistling
Dublin?), as we learn through the course of the movie.
But Darby has problems. In his advanced years he's more fond of telling tales
about the wee folk than doing his job of estate keeper, so his boss brings in
a new man, Michael McBride (Connery), to replace him though Darbys
given a very good retirement package. But Darbys used to working, or at
least playing at working, and doesn't know what will happen to himself and his
daughter (Janet Munro) when he has to leave his home and turn it over to McBride.
But it looks as if things may work out alright for him when he manages to capture
the King of the leprechauns himself (Jimmy ODea, in a marvelously fun
performance). Hes granted three wishes and only three and
that leaves him with the challenge of what to wish for that cant be twisted
against him by the wily King.
Theres music and magic and marvelous special effects (most of which,
according to the supplementary material, were actually done in camera without
the use of opticals!) in this flick, the result being that this is the Walt
Disney Studio at its absolute innovative best.
Incidentally, director Robert Stevenson would go on to helm another Disney
masterpiece a few years later: Mary Poppins.
Albert Sharpes Darby is worth the price of admission, but
hes even better in the scenes where hes interacting with ODeas
King Brian. And Connery fans simply must see him in action here; we cant
think of too many films in which hes the romantic lead, let alone a singing
character (other than a couple of lines in Dr.
No), and hes very good.
The DVD is excellent. Unlike many Disney releases, this one doesnt feature
a THX-certified transfer, but despite that the overall quality is just fine,
thank you very much. Its presented in its original full frame (1.33:1)
aspect ratio, which unfortunately isnt 16x9 TV compatible (so youll
have to stretch and/or zoom the picture to fill the wide screen if your set
is prone to burn in) but wed rather have the original version than something
The colors are rich and the image is sharp and bright, just what we want from
a film with such great color and design as this.
Audio is Dolby Digital mono and its fine, though we noticed that the
level on the movie is quite a bit lower than it is on the menus, which was kind
You get some great extras, too. First up is a short featurette on Connery and
his Disney experience, featuring the contemporary Connery himself. Then theres
Little People, Big Effects a look at the movie magic that went into
the creation of Darby OGill and the Little People. Last up is I
Captured the King of the Leprechauns, a full length episode from the Walt
Disney TV series.
Darby OGill and the Little People, from Walt Disney Home Entertainment
91 min. full frame (1.33:1, not 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital mono
Starring Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery, Jimmy ODea, with Kieron
Moore, Estelle Winwood, Walter Fitzgerald
Written by Lawrence Edeward Watkin, directed by Robert Stevenson
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