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Irish Police Films

Letter to The New York Times, October 26, 2006

  Re: "Begorrah! Irish Cops, Yet Again" by Dan Barry, though he bemoans the ubiquity of the brawling Irish cop in popular entertainment, Mr. Barry owes Tinseltown a debt of thanks. As stereotypes go, this one is as complex as it is ruggedly benign.

Hollywood hasn't created a billion dollar industry dedicated to churning out Celtic Godfathers, Goodfellas or Sopranos. Nor is the intelligentsia enamored of gangsters or corrupt political figures whose families hail from County Cork.

For all his surly ways, the lawman with a brogue remains an iconic figure--the quintessential, if conflicted, American good guy.

Sean Connery's Jim Malone evinces ethnic disdain toward Italians in "The Untouchables," while Matt Damon's Colin Sullivan--"The Departed's" corrupt Celtic cop--has a field day skewering Italians in his Boston Irish accent.

Thanks to the persistence of anti-Italian imagery in popular culture, audiences associate malevolence with those loutish bad guys whose surnames end in a vowel.

Rosario A. Iaconis
Mineola, N.Y.

 

 
 
Copyright © 2007 Italic Institute of America, P.O. Box 818, Floral Park, NY 11001     Last updated February 2017