Young Cassidy

Young Cassidy is a 1965 film directed by Jack Cardiff and John Ford and starring Rod Taylor, Julie Christie, and Maggie Smith.[2] It is a biographical drama based upon the life of the playwright Seán O'Casey.

Young Cassidy
1966 theatrical poster
Directed byJack Cardiff
John Ford
Produced byRobert Emmett Ginna
Robert D. Graff
Written byJohn Whiting
Based onMirror in My House by Seán O'Casey
StarringRod Taylor
Julie Christie
Maggie Smith
Music bySean O'Riada
CinematographyEdward Scaife
Edited byAnne V. Coates
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
22 April 1965
Running time
110 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$1 million (est.)[1]


Set in 1911 and the growing protest against British rule in Ireland, young John Cassidy (Seán O'Casey)[3] is a labourer by day and a pamphleteer by night. When the pamphlets he has written incite riots, Cassidy realizes he can do more for his people with the pen than with the sword. He writes a new play, The Plough and the Stars, which he submits to the Abbey Theatre (which had already rejected another of his plays, The Shadow of a Gunman), and is surprised when W. B. Yeats, the founder of the Abbey, accepts and produces his new play. The opening of the play causes the audience to riot, and he loses many friends; but he is undeterred and is soon acclaimed as Ireland's outstanding young playwright.

As early as 1907, performances of John Millington Synge's The Playboy of the Western World resulted in riots by theatergoers, which had to be quelled by police.[4] The real W. B Yeats, a friend of both authors, said similar words at or after both riots.[3][5] Young Cassidy brings this parallel history (the riots of The Plough and the Stars and The Playboy of the Western World) to vivid life, tied together by the character of Yeats.


Actor Role
Rod Taylor John Cassidy
Maggie Smith Nora
Julie Christie Daisy Battles
Michael Redgrave W.B. Yeats
Edith Evans Augusta, Lady Gregory
T. P. McKenna Tom
Jack MacGowran Archie
Siân Phillips Ella
Flora Robson Mrs. Cassidy


Based on Seán O'Casey's autobiography Mirror in my House (the umbrella title under which the six autobiographies he published from 1939 to 1956 were republished, in two large volumes, in 1956),[6] the movie began production in 1964, changing his name in the film to John Cassidy. O'Casey had read earlier drafts of the movie, and gave his approval to the script, as well as to the choice of lead actor, Rod Taylor.[7]

Rod Taylor stepped in when the original choice for the role, Sean Connery, had to drop out. Prior to Connery, Richard Harris was attached.[8]

The movie was initially directed by John Ford (who had already directed a movie version of The Plough and the Stars in 1936), but he fell ill about two weeks into production and was replaced by Jack Cardiff. Filming was held up for two weeks. Only one member of the cast was replaced – Sian Phillips came in for Siobhán McKenna.[9] O'Casey died shortly before production on the film finished.[10]

Sean O'Casey: The Spirit of Ireland

During the making of the film, a behind-the-scenes documentary, Sean O'Casey: The Spirit of Ireland, was filmed looking at the making of Young Cassidy. Narrated by Herschel Bernardi, the film intersperses footage from Young Cassidy with footage of the actors preparing for their roles.[7]


Young Cassidy was released to DVD by Warner Home Video on 6 September 2012 via the Warner Archive DVD-on-demand system available through Amazon.


  1. Vagg p 106
  2. IMDB: Young Cassidy (1965)
  3. Sean O'Casey on Dublin Info page.
  4. Seán O'Casey article on the similarity of The Plough and the Stars and Playboy riots.
  5. John Millington Synge#Playboy Riots and After on riots and Yeats.
  6. Seán O'Casey's Wikipedia page.
  7. The Complete Rod Taylor Site
  8. Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010 p107
  9. Vagg p 109
  10. Vagg p 110
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