Fun Size Review: The Shamrock and the Rose (1927)

A Jewish girl falls for an Irish boy, much to the displeasure of both families. Believe it or not, the Irish-Jewish wedding story was a wildly popular trope that was featured in songs, plays and motion pictures. (Harpo Marx described one of these plays as “no worse than a bad cold” and he has a point.)

This budget rendition of the old story is pretty hackneyed by any standard but it is one of very few examples of the genre available to the general public. The Shamrock and the Rose is more for film historians, anyone studying portrayals  of ethnicity on the silent screen and die hard Mack Swain fans.

shamrock-and-rose-vampire-umpire

How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

The star-crossed lovers marry and his family accepts the marriage. Her family doesn’t– until the baby is born.

If it were a dessert it would be: Generic Twinkie Rip-offs. The original isn’t really the best thing for you but the knock-off loses much in translation.

Read my full-length review here and learn about how the Jewish-Irish wedding genre ended up creating copyright law as we know it.

Availability: Released on DVD by Grapevine. As usual, I have not seen but cannot recommend the Alpha edition due to their tendency to snip out scenes and title cards, some of which are essential to understanding the film’s plot.

4 Comments

  1. Birgit

    I could see this be quite popular back in the day since the Jewish people and Irish people were living side by side in NYC and were very family oriented. I may not saying it as eloquent as you or others but this doesn’t surprise me. Take away the race and you could insert rich person loves poor person, Romeo & Juliet, Black person and white person, etc…

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      It’s similar to the relatively large number of films that featured an English-speaking soldier romancing an Asian woman after the Second World War: it’s all a matter of stereotypes. The problem with the Irish-Jewish wedding films is that they almost always use ridiculous (and racist) gags for a cheap laugh. For example, one of the main Jewish characters in this film kisses his money. 😯 This is particularly frustrating as we know Hollywood can do better. “His People” features a romance between Irish and Jewish characters but because the story is sympathetic and intelligent, the romance comes off as believable and not an excuse for racist gags.

  2. Birgit

    Oh brother-that is bad and when you think of how many people in the industry were Jewish. Actually it reminds me of Broken Blossoms-not because of anything Jewish but I remember the place cards saying “Chinky” a lot

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Yeah, the climate of antisemitism (thanks in part to Henry Ford) was so venomous that even powerful Jewish mogul were afraid of making films to combat it. It’s a really sad and frightening period in history.

      “Broken Blossoms” is yet another case of viewers straining to find evidence that D.W. Griffith was somehow not a racist. I mean, even if the film was perfect and sensitive and all that jazz (and it wasn’t), that doesn’t change the fact that “Birth of a Nation” glamorized virulently racist portrayals of African-Americans and actively encouraged racial violence. Making a movie that is not racist toward Chinese people does not magically absolve him of this.

      Anyway, “Broken Blossoms” was basically yet another excuse for Griffith to indulge in his fetish for rape/violence against women in enclosed spaces. Lillian Gish poured her heart into her performance but it doesn’t change how skeevy the whole thing is.

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