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A HUNGRY FEELING - THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BRENDAN BEHAN

USA, 1988 (MIFF 1988, Documentary)

Director: Allan Miller

Brendan Behan's life can be divided into 3 parts his youthful years in an English jail for his activities on hehalf of the I.R.A., his writing, drawn largely from his experiences as a prisoner, and his prodigious boozing, which resulted in his death in 1963 at the age of 41

Allan Miller's affecting documentary tells Behan's story through the people who knew him best - his wife, brothers, I.R.A. comrades and fellow drinkers in the Dublin pubs, where he seemed most at home. Their recollections sketch a portrait of a wild Irishman, a storyteller and a lair, who was not able to communicate until he'd had a drink - or three

Behan speaks to us directly through a number of remarkable clips drawn from his notorious TV appearances

As though mocking his own celebrity, he appeared on television interviews both in Britain and the United States in a state of near stupefaction, flustering such veteran interviewers as Malcolm Muggendge

While these fascinating sequences confirm the popular image of Behan as a 'funny Irish drunk', it's also glaringly evident as to how this public image quickly overtook the critical aeclaim and popular success on both sides of the Atlantic of his plays

Punctuated with readings from his prison memoirs 'Borstal Boys', clips from the I960 film of his play The Quare Fellow, and staged scenes from his best known work 'The Hostage' A Hungry Feeling exposes Behan the man and Behan the artist - the fire that inspired him and the self destruc-tiveness that killed him emerge like two sides of the same coin.

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