Made For Television: The Telefeature and the Mini-Series
The Manions Of America
romantic drama chronicling the lives of two 19th-century families - one
the other English - and the American dynasties they began, was the
collaborative work of daytime soap opera queen Agnes Nixon (creator of
"All My Children") and British writer Rosemary Anne Sisson (creator
of "Upstairs, Downstairs"). The three-part, six-hour saga, the
work of two directors and three photographers, served ultimately to
to American audiences Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, playing Rory
rises from immigrant to successful Philadelphia businessman and Union
Captain during the American Civil War. Kate Mulgrew plays Rachel
captures the heart of and eventually marries Rory O'Manion. Filmed
and around Dublin (which doubled for Philadelphia of the middle 1800s).
Screening Room: The Manions Of America
(Sept. 26 - Oct. 2, 1981)
lavish mini-series The Manions of
America (9 PM ABC) opens its three-night run tonight and, like
many of its
predecessors, it mines drama from history: in this case the plight of
century Irish who fled British rule - and a devastating famine - to
fortunes in the United States. Featuring a richly textured script (by
Downstairs contributor Rosemary Anne Sisson) and evocative location
Ireland), Manions also offers
some fine acting from Kate Mulgrew, Linda Purl,
David Soul and TV newcomer Pierce Brosnan - who, in the leading role,
reminiscent of James Dean.
Times: And Now, An
Irish Version Of Roots'
thick slice of
turbulent history, put it into the hands of the queen of American soap
and the result is bound to be like ''The Manions of America,'' the
mini-series that ABC-TV will broadcast this Wednesday, Thursday and
Friday at 9
P.M. Designed as the equivalent of ''Roots'' for Irish-Americans, the
devised by Agnes Nixon, creator of the daytime serials ''All My
''One Life to Live.'' The scripts were written by Rosemary Anne Sisson,
television credits include several episodes of Britain's ''Upstairs,
Downstairs'' as well as Australia's ''A Town Called Alice,'' the next
on public television's Masterpiece Theater. The billing can get
novelized version of the story is being marketed in a Dell paperback as
Nixon's 'The Manions of America' by Rosemary Anne Sisson.''
by tales she heard in her own Irish-American childhood, Miss Nixon
beginnings of an American family dynasty from the dirt-poor O'Manions
Ireland to the prosperous and influential Manions of Philadelphia. The
dropped to make the name less Irish for openly prejudiced Americans.
resemblance between the Manions and such families as the Kennedys of
the Kellys of Philadelphia is undoubtedly calculated.
1845, when the Great Famine was ravaging Ireland. Young Rory O'Manion
Brosnan) is understandably upset as he watches the wealthy British
ride arrogantly to the hounds across property that belongs to his
Unable to get a doctor for his mother, who is dying in childbirth, he
privileged foreigners: ''Someday you'll pay for this. We will set our
free again.'' His mother gives Rory a ''holy medal'' for the new baby,
and makes Rory swear that he will always look after his youngest
your eye on that holy medal. It inevitably becomes a key device in the
plot that has enough convolutions and coincidences to keep the average
opera going for at least a year.
many Irelands. There is the land of leprechauns and quaint little
cute things memorialized on St. Patrick's Day souvenirs. There is the
of outrageous, sly conniving, the kind of stuff explored in the
novels of Honor Tracy. And, saturated with centuries of religious and
strife, there is everything in between.
Miss Nixon chooses to
focus on the passionately romantic aspects of the picture. Her he ro
dark-haired, a physical attribute that provides an immediate clue to
tempestuous nature. Forcontrast, Ror y's twin brother Padraic (Nicholas
Hammond) is fairhaired, l eaving him free to be a gentle poet, more
compromise th an to violent confrontation. Little or no time is
subtleties of characterization. This is a world of quickly recognized
all in the service of a plot that canters along briskly, movi ng on
questions of simple logic might become serious.
It would be
difficult, if not impossible, to undertake any sympathetic treatment of
without making England appear villainous. Miss Nixon gets around this
problem by recuiting a few ''enlightened'' British characters for the
cause. Rachel Clement (Kate Mulgrew) arrives in Ireland after her uncle
killed in a hunting accident. Her spunkiness is quickly apparent when
laughingly observes to her father that ''the most generous thing uncle
for us was dying.'' When she spots handsome Rory coming across a field,
falls passionately in love. As if that's not enough, Rachel's brother
(Simon MacCorkindale), a British soldier stationed in Ireland, falls
passionately in love with Rory's sister Deirdre (Linda Purl). Supposed
are thus reconciled in the neatly alliterative affairs of Rory/Rachel
When Rachel manages
to get Rory a job as groom in her family's stables, he proceeds to
as to the role of the British i n Irish history. Rachel is properly
but Rory remains torn, confessing that ''I want you night after nigh t
night but Ireland dies day after day after day.'' Meanw hile, he is not
terriblyhappy about David's wooing of his sister, sho uting ''Isn't it
to take our land - do you have to take our wo men too?'' But David is
hopelessly smitten with Deirdre ever since th e day he told her ''My
David'' and she perkily replied ''And mine's me own business.''
without benefit of clerg y, David and Dierdre exchange vows of eternal
faithfulness before he is dispatched to India. Needless to say, this
complica tes the plot when he is erroneously reported killed in action
and a d
istraught Deirdre, living in Philadelphia, marries a rich Yankee banker
Caleb (David Soul).
Rory has his
problems, not the least of which is his twin brother. Rory is furious
Padraic agrees to become a collections agent for one of the landlords.
not the sharpest of fellows, is somewhat puzzled when the dunned Irish
seem to resent his periodic requests for money. When one of the farmers
suddenly turns friendly, a grateful Padraic joins him for a drink and
tells him of Rory's role in a killing. The farmer turns out to be an
the British. In an ensuing fight, Rory accidentally kills Padraic, who
with a curse on his lips. This becomes the ongoing justification for
all of the
unbelievable disasters that will later haunt Rory's life. At first
conclusion, he is smuggled onto a boat heading for America and more
adventures, including the loss on a later boat trip of his brother
one he swore to protect. That's where that holy medal pops up again.
America'' is less an exploration than a construction, jumping to a
scene whenever the more violent actions subside temporarily. The cast
competent. Mr. Brosnan and Miss Mulgrew even manage to be sympathetic
believable despite the generally wooden dialogue. Rachel: ''I love you
forever.'' Rory: ''I love you too.'' Filmed entirely in Ireland, the
does look good. Occasionally, the plot machinations generate a perverse
interest of their own. The only thing lacking is substance. Stan Kallis
produced for EMI Films. Part one was directed by Joseph Sargent, parts
three by Charles S. Dubin.
N.Y. Times: 'THE MANIONS'
John J. O'Connor
This evening at 9 o'clock, ABC-TV begins ''The Manions of America,'' a
six-hour drama that follows a poor Irish family to prosperity and
influence in this country; the other two installments will be broad
cast tomorrow and Friday, also at 9. The story was ''created'' by Agnes
Nixon, whose successful credits in daytime soap opera include ''One
Life to Live'' and ''All My Children.'' The scripts were written by
Rosemary Anne Sisson, who was connected with a good many episodes of
''Upstairs, Downstairs.'' the toniest of Britain's soap operas.
At the core of this saga, sweeping with something of a vengeance, is
the character of Rory O'Manion, the dark-haired, hot-headed rebel whose
hatred for the English is eternally fixed during the Great Famine of
1845. Complicating matters is the fact that Rory falls into an affair
with Rachel Clement, a tempestuous English beauty who inherits her
uncle's estate in Ireland. Fortunately, Rachel comes to sympathize
strongly with the Irish side of things. Also fortunately, she is played
by Kate Mulgrew, who, despite affecting a British accent that makes her
sound like Tammy Grimes, happens to have a face like, as they say, the
map of Ireland.
this fictional stew Rory's defiant sister, who is wooed and won by
Rachel's aristocratic brother, then move all of the action to
Philadelphia, where prejudice against the Irish is openly vicious, and
the outlines of Miss Nixon's scripts only begin to come into focus. The
whole is drenched, of course, in spurts of violence, dribbles of
convenient coincidence and gushes of passionate lovemaking. The story
moves along briskly enough to make thought superfluous.
performers, most of whom keep a straight face, include Linda Purl,
David Soul, Simon MacCorkindale and Kathleen Beller. Even Anthony
Quayle pops into the picture for a few scenes. Miss Mulgrew is a
pleasure to watch in any circumstances. And, as Rory, Pierce Brosnan is
dashing, handsome and, unbelievably enough, fairly convincing. That is
The stormy love affair between Rory Manion (Pierce Brosnon), a
rebellious Irish groom and Rachel Clement, the headstrong daughter of
an English landowner, is interrupted when Rory is forced to flee to
His sister is also parted from her lover when he is posted to India but
the four are destined to meet again in this exlposive saga of ill-fated
passions set in the 19th-century Ireland and America.
It is the handsome Brosnan who plays the hero of the story, which is
set in the middle of the 19th century. Brosnan is an Irish patriot who
becomes involved in the movement to free Ireland from British rule.
telly supercop David Soul plays Caleb Staunton, an American lawyer and
staunch suporter of the Irish freedom fighters.
series - filmed in Dublin - features secret Irish gun running raids on
the British, and rioting.
Because of the present sensitive political situation in Northern
Ireland, the series has become a hot potato for the BBC. Last night a
BBC spokesman admitted that the series was about to be "greatly edited."
said: "It is a six-hour series but we are cutting it down into one
feature-length film. That means about 90 minutes or perhaps two hours."
Interview: Pierce Brosnan
"But The Manions of
America was my ticket to America and the performance had a rawness and
energy to it that I haven't had onscreen since then, irony of ironies,
I'd like to get back to."
Fedora: Voyager Convention
Q: Could you tell me what it was like working with Pierce
Brosnan on the Manions of America?
What was it like to
work with Pierce Brosnan on The
Manions of America? Of course every woman wants to know
this question. Because he is divinity itself, is he not?
However I've got to tell you the truth. We didn't go for each
other. We just didn't have chemistry. Neither I for him, nor he for me,
as a result, it really worked it. We were on location together for one
year in Ireland. He had fallen in love with his then wife Cassie,
who has subsequently died of cancer. Ovarian cancer. She gave him
three beautiful children. I watched that happen. I was engaged to
be married, that failed. But again, in Ireland, on location for a year
you, you form something that is very intense.
Weekend: Kate Mulgrew Interview
Pat Sajak: (referring to two pictures of Kate and Pierce Brosnan
from Manions of America that preceded the segment) Who are those two
kids in that shot there? That would look like Pierce Brosnan,
Kate Mulgrew: Oh yes. Pierce. And a very young, very
happy Kate Mulgrew. There she is. Darling fellow.
Pat Sajak: What were you shooting then?
Kate Mulgrew: The Manions of America. On location in
Ireland. And as I just said to you in the break, it was a
fabulous time in my life. Pierce was great. You know this
was his big break, and we were all living in a castle together in the
south of Ireland and I must say it was one of those moments – God –
Wordpress: Actors in
D’Aubery: I was
an ADR editor for a number of years and it isn’t easy for an actor!!!
loopers I worked with had the attitude that this “is the last chance I
get it right.” The actors who simply could not manage it were the ones
assumed the ADR editor was out to destroy their performance. And there
reasons to loop dialogue…”Manions of America” took place during the
famine in Ireland in 1845, but a great deal of it was shot with the
cars, busses, motorcycles, airplanes, etc. over the dialogue and that
wouldn’t work! “Manions” was Pierce Brosnon’s first American work, and
in just about every scene of that 6-hour production. We spent a whole
New York looping every day and he was intent on learning the process
it right. And he was terrific!!! To this day he is one of my most
actors as far as looping goes.