Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959)

darby ogill and the little people poster 1959 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Darby & King Brian, Great forced perspective visuals

Hodgepodge of myths, main story is kind of lacking

Movie Info

Movie Name: Darby O’Gill and the Little People

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Musical/Romance/Family

Release Date(s): June 26, 1959

MPAA Rating: Not Rated


I’m just chillin’ with my homie Darby

Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharp) has one goal late in life…he wants to capture the King Brian Connors (Jimmy O’Dea) of the leprechauns to gain three wishes and his pot of gold.  Darby’s life is about to change when Lord Fitzpatrick (Walter Fitzgerald) decides to retire Darby as his caretaker and replace him with Michael McBride (Sean Connery).  Darby decides the only way he can get out of the mess is to get the wishes and money for his daughter Katie (Janet Munro).  Meanwhile Michael and Katie have eyes for each other, but the town bully Pony Sugrue (Kieron Moore) wants Katie for himself.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People was directed by Robert Stevenson and based on the books Darby O’Gill and the Good People and The Ashes of Old Wishes and Other Darby O’Gill Tales by Herminie Templeton Kavanagh.  The film was well received and helped Sean Connery take on the role of James Bond when he was seen by Albert R. Broccoli.  Since its release, Darby O’Gill and the Little People has become a St. Patrick’s Day classic.


These leprechauns know how to party!

Darby O’Gill actually looks really good for when it was made.  The movie uses a great combination of scale shots using forced perspective (something later used by Peter Jackson in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) so the movie effects mostly hold up.  There are some images like giant model hands and other effects that time wasn’t as kind too, but the basic images of Darby and King Brian are really well done.

The movie is a hodgepodge of Irish folklore and legends.  Joining the Leprechauns (or Little People or Good People) are Darby’s horse which is supposed to be a pooka (the most famous example of a pooka probably is Harvey the giant rabbit from the Jimmy Stewart film of the same title).  When Katie is injured, she is menaced by a banshee (a female spirit of death…further confused by Marvel’s Banshee being a male).  The final part of the movie has Darby being taken away by coiste-bodhar driven by a dullahan.  This mesh of folklore seems a little packed into the story, and I kind of wish they just stuck with the leprechauns.


I’m just hanging out with you guys ’til I get my real break!

Darby is entertaining as the crotchety old man and his interaction with King Brian is really what sells the movie and makes it entertaining to kids.  I was always actually rather freaked out by the leprechauns and thought they were evil…especially in this movie how they try to trap Darby in their kingdom.  I guess that is why I really could buy the evil leprechaun of Leprechaun series in 1990s.  I just wish he was as horrifying as King Brian…that evil creepy little man.

Darby O’Gill and the Little People is a fun movie and one of Disney’s better live-action films.  It holds up well.  The romance between Connery and Munro might bore some kids, but there is enough fun and creepy leprechaun action to hold them there…I always get frustrated however that Darby is not able to really prove to anyone the true power of the leprechaun exists…come on King Brian, help out Darby just for a bit!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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