Monday, 16 August 2010


Young Cassidy is a 1965 film which is loosely based on the autobiographical tales of Irish playwright, Sean O'Casey.  It was a project begun by the legendary John Ford,  however he was taken ill shortly after filming had commenced and replaced as director by Jack Cardiff.

TP's involvement in the film was as a brother of Cassidy, Tom.  They become reunited when Tom is on leave from the British Army.  In short measure, they slap each other on the back, head out for a celebratory drink and end up in a great big, pub fight.  All a bit oirish and clearly with shades of The Quiet Man.

TP with Rod Taylor (centre) and Jack McGowran (left)

TP's scenes were in the few minutes of the film that are actually directed by Ford,  though this was not to be the most auspicious of collaborations as would transpire.

Setting up the scene they were to shoot at the start of the day's filming, Ford, in his famed autocratic manner decided that it was too long. He called over his assistant and regarding the pages of the script he indicated the portion of the scene to be dumped. 

Our fledgling movie star, TP McKenna, with a big chunk of his part disappearing before it was even shot saw red and burst out at Ford. 'But you can't do that! That's half my scene!!' Ford eyed this young buck with due contempt (and his good eye) and replied, 'Oh, can't I?' Summoning back the assistant, he grabbed the script and in front of TP and the entire company, he ripped out the relevant pages and threw them to the floor, 'I JUST DID!'

As to whether or not, in proper Ford film style, he then spat on the strewn pages for added effect is not known, much as it would suit the narrative of this short tale, however TP learnt a firm lesson about just who calls the shots on a film set.

A moment of harmony before the big 'foight' breaks out

Jack Cardiff intriguingly captured on location atop a prop coffin
Lobby cards for 'Young Cassidy'

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