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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Strumpet City (review)

I thought I was up on everything Irish, but I’d never heard of this one, and maybe there’s a reason why. James Plunkett’s 1969 best-selling epic novel was turned into this made-for-Irish-TV miniseries in 1980, the first major production of Ireland’s RTE TV, but honestly, it’s really pretty dull, and dates itself with its slow-moving plot and overly earnest performances. The setting is Dublin in the pre-Great War period, when the gap between rich and poor was at its widest and the working class was ripe for revolution. Enter labor organizer Jim Larkin (Peter O’Toole [Venus] — but don’t get excited: it’s a small role) to rile up the household maids and their factory-worker beaux. Stretching over seven 50-minute episodes is the tale of urban upheaval as strikes rock the city and society takes sides… like the young priest whose idealism gives way to strident conservatism when he comes face to face with the realities of the revolution and can’t cope. And still, I found it very hard to care one way or the other. The video and audio have been digitally remastered, but the film is showing its age; extras are minimal, and include an author bio and cast filmographies. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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