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Paul Vincent Carroll has written a story about the Irish, and Dublin's Abbey Theatre Players have made it into a movie. The result of this combination is a film of great charm and subtle humor.
Both the author and the actors know the Irish people well. They present an honest view of the virtues and foibles which exist among the saint and sinners of the small village of Kilwirra.
The essence of the film is its humor, but this is not a boffo type of comedy. Instead, the humor comes from the normal actions of the people themselves. The Abbey Players have caught the underlying comedy in the lives of the poor but happy country folk-in the Irish superstitions nature an typical multitude of minor sins. These qualities appear in the blind faith of the townspeople in the ability of Ma Murnaghan to predict the future and their rush to bet all their money on her choice in the Irish National.
Aside from the activities of Ma Murnaghan, the movie is concerned mainly with the efforts of Michael Kissane to prove that he did not steal the church's money. He wants to do this so that he can marry Shealh, who unfortunately has become engaged to the banker. This intriguing problem is, of course, solved in the end with the assistance of Ma Murnaghan.
The acting in "Saints and Sinners" is perfectly adjusted to the film's major purpose, the subtle comedy of the people's lives. Michael Dolan as the lovable old Canon and Maire O'Neill and Ma do particularly fine jobs. Kieron Moore is proud and handsome as Michael, and Sheila Manahan portrays Shealh with proper simplicity and charm. Tom Dillon plays a visiting New Yorker with a fine combination of noise and stupidity.
As soon as the title of the movie is flashed on the screen, Philip Green's music begins with a beautiful theme that continues throughout the film. It is a simple, warm, and tender melody-just like the movie.
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