Rooney was the biggest box-office success ever at one of my two local cinemas in the late 50s. As a publicity stunt, the management placed a headless shop-window mannequin in a chair outside the cinema with a placard attached saying "I laughed my head off at Rooney!"



Directed by George Pollock and based on a novel by Catherine Cookson, Rooney was filmed on Dublin locations (notably Rathmines), with interiors shot at Pinewood Studios, England. Featuring a catchy theme song that's still remembered by many Dubliners, the film's quiet humour and gentle class satire, together with the performances of prominent Abbey Players, have guaranteed it a lasting reputation.



Fleeing the advances of an insatiable landlady, Corporation dustman (and All-Ireland hurler) Rooney (John Gregson) takes accommodation in the snobbish lower-middle-class O'Flynn household, where his profession is regarded somewhat dismissively, except by Grandfather (Barry Fitzgerald) and the unassuming Maire (Muriel Pavlow), a blood relative who is used by the family as a domestic. Gradually Rooney falls in love with Maire and Grandfather finds it within himself to confront the stingy, ill-spirited Mrs O'Flynn (the superb Marie Keane). When Grandfather dies, he leaves his savings to Maire, but things take a turn for the worse when Rooney unknowingly gives her a gift of a necklace which turns out to be stolen.



Featuring some fine comic scenes with Noel Purcell, Eddie Byrne, Philip O'Flynn and Jack MacGowran as Rooney's fellow dustmen, and authentic footage of the 1957 All-Ireland Final between Kilkenny and Waterford, Rooney provides an intriguing snapshot of pre-Sixties Dublin.