There is no other holiday in America where everyone clamors to be from a particular heritage. On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is Irish. But for those that really come from an Irish lineage St. Paddy’s Day is not just an excuse to party. It’s a day to take pride in who you are and where you come from. Although some of the movies on this list aren’t the greatest pieces of cinematic art each of them embodies what it is like to be Irish in America.
This is our list of Top 10 Irish American movies:
1. The Departed
The Departed won 4 Oscars in 2007 including Best Picture. Although the movie seems to glorify old stereotypes about the Irish mob it captures the nitty-gritty of blood and loyalty. All old Irish families know a guy like Jack Nicholson’s “Costello”, and know exactly what he is capable of. As long as you can get past DiCaprio’s accent, The Departed is a very entertaining, abet violent.
Listed as one of AFI’s top 100 movies Yankee Doodle Dandy is the story of George M. Cohan, “The Man Who Owns Broadway.” Cohan was first generation Irish American and a self-made man, but what makes Yankee Doodle Dandy a thoroughly Irish movie is the performance by James Cagney, also an Irish American.
The Gangs of New York is a dramatized history lesson that even most Irish American’s weren’t even aware. This movie digs into the prejudice and hardship that faced early Irish immigrants. At the time most Irish lived in squallier and the only way to survive was to be in a gang. Again if you can handle DiCaprio’s accent (Irish this time) Gangs of New York well worth its 166 minute runtime.
Boondock Saints is one of the few movies that happens to de-glorify the mob when two Irish brothers take it upon themselves (claiming a vision from God) to rid Boston of the subsequent mob bosses in their Boston neighborhood.
5. In America
In America is a small independent film based on the true story of a struggling Irish family that immigrates to New York City. It captures the difficulties that modern immigrates face when trying to peruse their dreams, in America.
Most Irish Americans take pride in that America was built on the backs of Irish immigrants. The Molly Maguires is about a group of Irish immigrants that take it upon themselves to fight against the injustices they face every day at work in a Pennsylvania coal mine. However, The Molly Maguires take measures that today could be seen as acts of terrorism.
Another movie based on a true story, The Sullivans were five Irish American brothers that all joined the Navy during WWII. All five boys and were assigned to the USS Juneau that was attacked in the Pacific. This sad picture shows the loyalty the boys have to each other and their families, a trait common among close Irish American families.
State of Grace is another Irish drama that touches on the themes of loyalty and truth. An undercover cop is assigned to infiltrate the local Irish mob in his old home neighborhood. The play between the Irish mob and the Italian mafia is interesting, because few know that historically the Irish had their hands in organized crime in the U.S. long before the Italians.
9. Ladder 49
Historically, Irish immigrants where forced into public service jobs like firefighters and police officers. Now, it is a badge of honor, and many carryon the professions of their forefathers. Ladder 49, although not officially an “Irish” movie, depicts the brotherhood bond that is distinctive of firefighters, many of which are Irish American.
10. Far and Away
Admittedly, Far and Away isn’t the best movie ever, but its Irish immigration story is second only to Gangs of New York. Here you see the injustice our ancestors faced in a cold new work. This movie shows for what and why our grandparents struggled, a better life.
Also, make sure your party prepared with Saint Patricks Day party gear.