Happy St. Patrick's Day From Maureen O'Hara and George Brent

March 18, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

To celebrate the wearing of the green, I painted two movie stars who are as Irish as they come.


Maureen O'Hara is the female personification of Ireland. This is the first time since I've been doing these paintings that I wish I wasn't painting the faces in black and white. Her trademark technicolor red hair and bright green eyes just aren't done justice in shades of gray.

Maureen O'Hara is one of those actresses that I associate with one movie role. When I was a wee little lassie, Hayley Mills was my favorite actress, and The Parent Trap was my favorite of her films. You know when you're little you watch the same movie over, and over, and over until you have it memorized and forever burnt into your brain? Well, that's why, in my mind's eye, Maureen O'Hara will always, forever be Hayley Mills' mother. Since then I've watched a bunch of her films (I LOVE The Quiet Man) but every time she appears on screen, I still associate her with that one role. Even playing an upper crust Boston divorcee, she still oozes spunk and feisty-ness.

For my Irish lad, I was originally going to paint Pat O'Brien, but when I mentioned my Irish themed post to my mom, she not-so-subtely hinted "you know, George Brent was Irish." For the last two months, my mom has been dropping hints here and there that I should paint George Brent and Melvyn Douglas-- her two favorite actors. So Pat O'Brien will have to wait his turn.

George Brent was VERY Irish. Like Maureen O'Hara, he was born in Ireland. Unlike Maureen O'Hara, he was a sniper/assassin for Michael Collins in the IRA before coming to Hollywood. When I first read this online, I thought it was a joke. I began an incessant search to make sure it was true before I actually wrote it here. But everywhere, every biography I could find, indicated that George Brent fought for the IRA when he was a teenager. Wow.

Besides being a good shot, he was also a really great actor. I prefer the mustached George Brent of the late 30's and 40's, when he was a frequent co-star to Bette Davis (accomplishing something practically impossible in Bette Davis films-- managing to not be outshone in her presense.) My favorites usually have him playing a suave, debonair [insert notable profession here] but I think his best performance is in The Spiral Staircase. His character in this film is like a twisted version of his characters in other films. It's not a radical departure from the norm, something wild and crazy that would normally draw enormous attention. It's much more nuanced and subtle. It really seems as if he took those suave, debonair professionals that he was so used to playing, and tweaked it just enough to completely change the character. Just watch Dark Victory and Spiral Staircase back to back and you'll see what I mean.

So Happy St. Patricks Day from a very proud Irish lass! I know St. Patrick's Day is actually over now, but I hope everyone had a lucky day. May your path through life be lined with shamrocks :)


Anonymous said...

Hmm! You actually make me feel a little proud of my 1/4 Irish blood. Up to now, I've just associated it with a terribly unpleasant, loud-mouthed granny (namely, mine). :)

These paintings are superb! Maureen and George never looked better. I adore The Quiet Man, too! You know, it was on last night in honor of St. Pat's Day. I was in class for most of it, though and sadly missed it. :(

I'm amazed that George Brent was a IRA sniper! He always seemed so calm and suave. What an exciting life!

Keith said...

Hey there. I hope you had a Happy St. Patrick's Day. This is a cool holiday whether one is Irish or not. I do have Irish blood in me though. I loved these pictures. You did a wonderful job with them as usual. Cheers!

elena-lu said...

i watched the Quiet Man last! :-)

Nicole Newcomb said...

Happy Irish Day! I love begin Irish haha. Ohhh you don't know how happy you just made me, I adore George Brent especially in Spiral Staircase. He was magnificent.The painting of him looks exactly like him. I had the money, I would so buy a copy, it looks so fantastic. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm only 1/4 Irish, too, but when you have Irish blood in you, it seems to sort of take over all the other genes! Particularly in my fondness for potatoes...

Glad you like the paintings :) Isn't the George Brent thing surprising?! I would have never, ever guessed it.

Keith- Happy St. Patrick's Day to you, too. My dad is 0% Irish, and still wears green-- it's a holiday for anyone who likes good luck and pots of gold at the end of rainbows!

elena-lu- Isn't it great?!

Nicole- Happy Irish Day to you, too :) If you'd write a guest post about George Brent or the Spiral Staircase, I'd be happy to send you a print in exchange :)

Nicole Newcomb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole Newcomb said...

I'd be more than happy to write about either, it's up to you. I love them both, so whichever you pick I'll be fine with.