Darby O'Gill and the Little People marks Sean Connery's first real major role in a motion picture and provides him with the opportunity to showcase his talented singing voice with his solo performance of Irish Girl. Unlike the Connery films I've reviewed prior to this, which succeeded at being pretty solid without much of his presence, Darby O'Gill and the Little People would have bored me to tears without him. Something about Sean Connery in a Disney movie about Leprechaun's simply makes this film much easier to sit through.
Darby O'Gill is an aging grounds keeper for the local aristocrat whose often off traveling, upon his most recent return he's accompanied by Michael McBride (Sean Connery) a young man he's hired to become Darby's replacement. He's been aware that Darby's been shirking his responsibilities over the last five years and spending most of his time in the local pub, telling tales about King Brian and the Leprechauns. He tells Darby he can stay in a small cottage on the Manor property rent free for the rest of his life and will receive fifty percent of his wages as a retirement. Meanwhile he and his daughter Katie must move out of the guest house they're currently living in and allow Michael to move in.
Reluctantly Darby agrees but asks that he be the one to break the news to Katie (something Darby never gets around to doing and Katie ends up finding out about the hard way). Meanwhile Michael begins to take over Darby's responsibilities all under the guise that he's there to assist Darby (until he gets around to telling Katie the truth), and Darby goes off into the hills in an attempt to capture King Brian of the Leprechauns and receive his three wishes which Brian had already tricked him out of once before. Most of the film deals with Darby attempting to outwit King Brian, while Katie begins to fall for Michael until she discovers why he's really there.
For me Darby O'Gill and the Little People was an interesting diversion, nothing more. I think I was more enamored by Sean Connery in an extremely buttery Disney film more than anything else. Although I did enjoy his singing, which he had commented in an interview that he was quite nervous about because it was the first occasion he'd ever sung solo. He had done some theater prior to this in South Pacific, but there where fifty other guys singing at one time. Obviously it turned out quite well because Connery and his co-star Janet Munro recorded the song Irish Girl as a single for the film and it sold quite well.
In terms of the rest of the film Darby O'Gill and the Little People is the typical 1950's live action Disney film, mostly overcooked with a little soft spot in the middle where a slight amount of heart felt emotion is thrown in. As a family film it's okay, although I could actually see most kids getting bored of it pretty quickly, if anything I think it would appeal most to adults who grew up in the 50's and probably saw this film as kids. Surprisingly enough it's a film that does have somewhat of a cult following, as to Connery's own amazement he received regular comments about it every-time he did a promotional engagement for another film.