The Molly Maguires on DVD
Richard Harris stars with Sean Connery in this historical spy drama about Irish
coal miners in 1876 Pennsylvania.
Harris is the spy, or more accurately an undercover cop, sent to the mine to
get a job and get to know the miners to help track down the notorious Maguires,
a group of terrorists who seem to blow up the mines whenever they get the chance.
The Maguires are led by Connery and are portrayed quite sympathetically despite
the fact that they were terrorists operating in the same basic way the Islamist
terrorists do today.
But thats Hollywood for you; never let facts get in the way of a good
yarn. Bonnie and Clyde were apparently bloodthirsty
crooks, too, but that didnt stop the movie about them from being a great
But we digress
Harris is initially met with suspicion, since from the look of his gentle hands
it doesnt appear as if hes done a day of honest work in his life.
But he works hard and he fits in for the most part, and soon hes gaining
the confidence of the very people hes out to bust. Part of the reason
is that hes good at his job (of spy, though he undoubtedly makes a good
coal miner as well or he wouldnt have fit in as well as he did)
and even risks his life to save other Maguires when push comes to shove.
Of course hes really there to organize a bust, but there are times when
we start to wonder whether or not hes going to fulfill his mandate or
whether hell throw his career away and join the Maguires, with whom hes
Connery is always great, but this is really Harris movie. Samantha Eggar
is given co-star billing for whats basically a supporting role as Harris
landlady and, hopefully to Harris, love interest. Shes very appealing
in the role.
But regardless of how the filmmakers try to sugar coat the Maguires, the bottom
line has to be that they were nothing more than terrorists and therefore the
authorities did the right thing by trying to bring them to justice. Do they
succeed? Watch the movie!
The movie is very well done and very believable. The locations were apparently
real (if they werent, they spent a bundle on the sets!) and make you really
appreciate not having to work under those awful conditions of dark, dirt, sweat
and danger. The cinematography is first rate and gives the film a wonderfully
We also loved Henry Mancinis musical score, which seems very John Williams-ish
not that Mancini ever needed to be imitative (and Williams was just getting
going then anyway).
The DVDs very good, though Spartan. The picture is presented in anamorphic
widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and the picture quality is very good. Colors
(lots of blacks and greens and browns) are excellent, full and rich and deep,
and the image is very sharp overall. James Wong Howes shots are done justice
Audio is Dolby Digital
. And its fine. Most movies from this
era didnt pay too much attention to audio quality unless they were big
spectaculars or musicals, and such is the case here. The days of digital sound
upping the quality ante of even the most minor film were still years away when
The Molly Maguires and so many other films - was made.
Alas, there are no extras here.
The Molly Maguires, from Paramount Home Entertainment
min. Anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital _____
Starring Sean Connery, Richard Harris, Samantha Eggar
Produced by Martin Ritt and Walter Bernstein
Written by Walter Bernstein, directed by Martin Ritt.
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