Part of the Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color TV series this Disney Special episode was done to help promote the then new film Darby O’Gill and the Little People. It is a carefree heart warming look at how the idea for the film came about in the first place. Walt Disney has always been a story teller and has always wanted to make us believe in that which we normally don’t even consider. We get a wonderful glimpse into that mindset with this TV episode that aired on the 29th of May in 1959. At that time there were no color TV sets so it is all in back and white but that in no way takes away from the charm of this piece. It reminds me of the days in my youth when everyone would gather around the tiny 9 inch TV to watch what was happening around the world. Disney made those times even more fun, more so then they are now.
In this featurette, that also appears on the DVD of Darby O’Gill and the Little People, we see Disney pitching his idea for a new animated film to that of his old friend Pat O’Brien. Pat came to be called Hollywood’s “Irishman in Residence” and stared in many films and TV shows up until 1982 as Uncle Joe from Happy Days. As Walt is pitching his idea it is Pat that convinces him that he has to go to Ireland and actually find and catch one of the “Little People” so that he can get the image of them right. Disney takes this to heart and flays off to Ireland to find not just any Leprechaun but that of King Brian himself, the king of the Leprechauns. To do this he had to find out as much as he could about them, to do this he first talked to a historian of the land. It was him that sent him to see Darby O’Gill to find out all that he needed.
I know that last bit sounded a bit strange but when you watch anything connected to Darby O’Gill you just tend to start thinking in the same speech that he uses in the film. So with his knowledge gamed and Darby found they head off to the top of the fairy mountain Knocknasheega where Brian is supposed to live. So the 2 men waited and waited and as Darby says “In Ireland you make time” until they began to hear a tapping. That tapping was non other then the leprechaun Phadric Oge (Jack McGowran) the right hand of King Brian (Jimmy O’Dea). Taking Darby’s advice Disney caught the leprechaun in the squint of his eye and demanded to see the king. Being duly and honorably caught he has no choice but to get the king for Disney to see.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of it for you but it is a wonderful little piece and was filmed in the same way that the film was shot. They didn’t use any other effects then that of forced perspective so that the whole scene would be able to be filmed in one shot. Disney knew so much on how to make films that other directors and producers would not be able to or think to shot as he did until the advent of computers being used for special effects. This memorable episode can be found on the DVD of Darby O’Gill and the Little People and other collections as well. I would recommend getting it with the movie itself so that you can enjoy it in crystal clarity for years to come with your family and friends.
I give this film a Musing review of