A good Disney St. Patty’s Day would have to include Darby’s adventures with the wee little people of King Brian. (And Sean Connery singing, I mentioned that before.) Folk stories are woven together into a timeless battle of wits between the fairy of the mountain and a wily old fox. Their tricks involve whiskey, horses, sacks, gold, cats, fiddles, carriages, and the patience of good Father Murphy, but underneath the humor and spite, a grudging friendship shows the kindness of Irish hearts.
For a change of pace, though, you have to watch the behind-the-scenes TV special of how Walt Disney got his ideas, cast his Irish actors, and made the acquaintance of Brian Conners. The promotional ran on the ABC Disneyland/Wonderful World of Disney special, but it also enriches the legends behind the characters, the leprechauns and the banshee. Disney’s unusual deal with the King of Knocknasheega brought the fair folk to Hollywood to star in the film. We’re vague on details, but there seem to be shoe-boxes with air-holes involved at Customs. It’s true that Walt got many ideas for the movie during his visit, and cast Albert Sharpe, a colorful story-teller and actor, while he was there.
This faux documentary is Disney at his best, building layers around the story, turning illusions into realities. It’s like the behind-the-scenes work to make the Kingdom work. It’s the magic of Disney.
If you don’t have the DVD with the special features, you can see “I caught the King of the Leprechauns” on youtube. In the movie, Albert Sharpe and Disney were careful to use terms like “fairies” and “little people,” not leprechauns, but the promo was made for American audiences, who don’t know that the L-word is just a male fairy. Enjoy without criticism, please, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and I am enjoying breaking Lenten fast today.