The Plough and the Stars (1936)

Approved   |    |  Drama

The Plough and the Stars (1936) Poster

A husband clashes with his wife over his membership to the Irish citizen army.



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4 August 2016 | MartinHafer
| Barbara Stanwyck was 100% wrong for this film....and you wonder who thought it was a good idea to cast her in this film of the Easter Rebellion.
John Ford made most of his films for Twentieth Century Fox and perhaps much of it was because the studio let the director do what he wanted. After all, he was a proved commodity--an Oscar-winning director with a great track record. But with this film he did for RKO, apparently Ford was NOT thrilled and even walked off...forcing the studio to finish the film without him due to creative differences. Ford apparently hated the final product.

I am not sure why Ford was so disenchanted with the project, but I would hazard to guess that at least some of his disgust was the decision to cast Barbara Stanwyck in the lead. Now I do not have anything against her...she was a fine actress. But the film is about Ireland and she sounds absolutely nothing like an Irish woman...nothing. Heck, Hattie McDaniel would have been about as convincing in this role! She couldn't even approximate the accent...and in most of the film she didn't seem to try. Her character was also extremely whiny...too much so. As for the other co-star, Preston Foster, he was much more convincing and was well cast. So for me, this was a HUGE strike against the movie at the onset.

When the film begins, you learn that Nora (Stanwyck) has hidden a letter that arrived for her husband, Jack (Foster). The letter was appointing him a leader in the Irish militia...and soon they would be involved in the infamous Easter Uprising. Well, Nora is NOT the patriotic sort and is actually rather selfish--and she later begs him not to join in the fighting and to reject his appointment. Jack is not about to do this, as he's a loyal patriot.

Much of the rest of the film is made up of the rebellion as well as its aftermath--most of which time Nora whines and complains and seems to care not one bit about her native land...which is pretty weird and pretty despicable. In fact, her character and performance were pretty awful and the film left me wanting to see her get killed or at least horse whipped. And, even more oddly, the film ends this way...with Nora whining and having no care about the deaths of others or her Republic. I have no idea WHAT the point of the film was...and I could see how audiences left confused and unsatisfied. A rather terrible film, actually...

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Release Date:

26 December 1936



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