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The Shamrock Handicap

Director: John Ford


Already in his first big production, 1924’s The Iron Horse, Ford had foregrounded the role of Irish immigrants in constructing the trans-continental railway. His main Irishman there was played by J. Farrell Macdonald, whose prolific career playing Irishmen in Ford films extends as far as a key role as barman/musician in My Darling Clementine (1945). Macdonald features in The Shamrock Handicap as loyal servant of an Irish landowner who falls on hard times. The main story is simple: the landowner is driven to sell his horses to America, along with a jockey, whom his left-behind daughter loves. Father and daughter subsequently travel to America to witness the big race, with results that are no less enjoyable for being predictable. A review at the time noted that “Ford loves anything Irish, and he made the most of the little human interest touches.”

Notes by Charles Barr

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