DIRECTOR: SID DUKIE. RUNNING TIME: 101 mins. DVD: UNION JACK RELEASING. PRICE £16.99 CERT 18
Another incredible reinterpretation (some would say travesty) of history from independent British writer/director Sid Dukie, From Shamrock to Swastika depicts Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK, as being a Nazi collaborator hell-bent on Britain’s defeat in World War Two. According to Dukie, Kennedy founded his family fortune on bootlegging during prohibition – with the aid of his Grandfather’s secret poteen recipe he becomes Al Capone’s biggest liquor supplier – and uses his profits to finance Irish leader Eamonn DeValera’s continuing terrorist campaign against Britain. He is also shown, whilst serving as US Ambassador to London prior to the outbreak of World War Two, arranging a secret meeting between DeValera and Hitler. During this meeting Kennedy attempts to broker a deal whereby DeValera will allow Hitler to set up bomber and U-Boat bases in Eire, in return for Hitler delivering the UK-controlled Six Counties to him once Britain has been defeated. A somewhat perfunctory explanation for Kennedy’s virulent Anglophobia is provided by a prologue set in 1916, which shows young County Wexford farm boy Joseph’s sweetheart and her family being brutally murdered by British soldiers as a reprisal for unwittingly selling eggs to the local IRA cell. A subsequent sequence shows him manning the barricades at Dublin’s central post office with Michael Collins and Eamonn DeValera during the Easter uprising.
The third part of Dukie’s unofficial trilogy – reputedly financed by Colonel Gadafi – debunking popular US icons, From Shamrock to Swastika lacks the fascinating sexual dynamics of either Patton: Lust for a Glory Hole or MacArthur: Decadence and Despotism, coming over as little more than a deranged rant. The Patton movie, with its portrayal of World war Two General as a cross dressing repressed homosexual in love with a former member of the German Olympic men’s pentathlon team, can at least be viewed as an exploration of homoerotic undertones of American militarism and patriotism. Likewise, the MacArthur biopic paints a fascinating picture of post-war Japan under the General’s governorship – likening it to the decadent Roman Empire, complete with nude gladiatorial contests between sumo wrestlers. By contrast, this movie offers little other than an insight into Dukie’s rampant anti-Americanism. Dukie has always claimed that he is simply trying to redress the balance in the face of Hollywood’s relentless rewriting of history in films such as U-571 and Braveheart. However, some have suggested that his anti-Americanism stems from the fact that his father was an American GI who abandoned Dukie’s British mother in order to return to his own wife and family in Ohio. Dukie has always maintained that his father’s identity remains a mystery that his mother took to her grave.
In common with the earlier films, From Shamrock to Swastika is hampered by the shoestring budget, woeful production values and the director’s refusal to cast American actors. However, this latter factor provides this movie with its only (unintentional) entertainment value. Whilst Bob Hoskins and Roger Moore, as Patton and MacArthur respectively, maintained some credibility in the earlier films, former footballer Vinnie Jones is woefully inadequate as a thuggish Joseph Kennedy. He stalks around the cardboard scenery looking as if he’d desperately like to hit someone – in the scene where he tries to persuade President Roosevelt to keep the US neutral, for example, one expects him at any moment to throw FDR out of his wheelchair and give him a good kicking. Worse still is comedian Russ Abbot’s performance as DeValera, playing him as some kind of leprechaun, clad in a green suit and forever shouting “Bejasus” and “Begorrah”. The final nail in the film’s coffin is Lee Evans’ portrayal of Hitler as a buffoon, engaged in endless sub-Norman Wisdom slapstick routines. Denied a release Stateside and sent straight to video bargain bins in the UK, this oddity may be worth a look on rental, but no-one should admit to owning it.