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Friday, January 24, 2014

THE REEL REALS: Barry Fitzgerald

Barry Fitzgerald with his Oscar

Barry Fitzgerald is "the bomb." Outshining even the extremely hot chemistry between Duke Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in his drunken, comedic turn as the town matchmaker in "The Quiet Man," Barry also shared Oscar glory with Bing Crosby in the surprise success "Going My Way." An honest Dubliner, born and raised, part of Barry's appeal was his thick, Irish accent and his likeable, unpredictable actions and reactions. Whether playing the increasingly confused and slightly mad groundskeeper in "Bringing Up Baby" or making a cameo appearance in "Duffy's Tavern," there was no telling what the lovable leprechaun would say or do next. All one could do was sit, wait, and most likely, laugh.

Getting a late start in the acting profession, Barry wouldn't grace the screen until he was nearly forty. Both he and, later, his younger, nationalist brother Arthur Shields would journey to America and find success working with director John Ford, who immediately took a liking to the sprightly Barry in particular. From a civil servant to an unexpected film star, Barry would enjoy over thirty years performing on the silver screen before passing away in his early seventies back in Dublin. In addition to his lovable Irish brogue, Barry had an irreplaceable, unmatched persona that made viewers adore him-- there is no actor that could have outperformed or improved upon his characterizations in any of his given film. This, one could say, is the mark of the finest of actors.

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