Recently Discovered Hurling Films Screened for First Time in Eighty Years

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Recently discovered short films by NUI Galway academic, Dr Seán Crosson, will be screened for the first time in over 80 years at the Kilkenny Arts Festival. The series of short films featuring hurling were made for American cinema audiences by the Hollywood majors Warner Bros., MGM and Paramount pictures between the 1930s and the 1950s and copies have recently been acquired by the Irish Film Archive. The series of short films will be screened by the Irish Film Institute, entitled Ireland's Athletic Assault and Battery"?: Hollywood and Hurling on Monday, 9 August, as part of the Festival. While researching Hollywood's treatment of the GAA, Dr Crosson, Director of the MA in Film Studies Programme at the NUI Galway Huston School of Film and Digital Media, discovered the films in an archive at the University of Madison in Wisconsin. During the 1920s, '30s and '40s the GAA organised annual tours to the United States for the All-Ireland winners in both hurling and gaelic football to promote the games stateside. These visits inspired some American producers to consider hurling in particular as a subject for their work. While both Pathé and Fox Movietone newsreels covered several of the games, hurling would also appear in a number of short films released in cinemas in the 1930s including two segments of sports series narrated by seminal American broadcaster Ted Husing, Ted Husing's Sports Slants and Sports Thrills. These films were made by the Vitaphone Corporation for Warner Bros, in 1931 and 1932 respectively. The MGM produced Pete Smith Specialty Hurling (David Miller, 1936) film resulted in a deputation from the GAA visiting the Irish Film censor to demand that objectionable images be removed from the film. These films were joined in 1955 by the Oscar nominated Paramount Pictures short Three Kisses (Justin Herman, 1955), a film featuring the legendary Cork hurling team of the 1950s. Dr Crosson noted: "These films have important historical value, representing some of the very few examples of moving image footage of Gaelic games we have from this period, including the 1930 All-Ireland champions Tipperary on tour in the United States. However, they also provide a fascinating insight into an evolving Irish-American identity on screen in this crucial transitional period for this community in the United States".
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