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Top "Lucky 7" Movies for a Happy St. Patrick's Day

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara share a kiss in The Quiet Man (1952)
The rocky road to romance: John Wayne
and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man.

Like any good Irish storyteller, the ability of movemakers to transport audiences to the Erin Isle on St. Patrick's Day is what movie magic is all about.

From "The Quiet Man" starring movie veterans John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, to more modern comedy fare such as "Waking Ned Devine," movies with an Irish theme attract viewers year round whenever they appear on TV, in movie festivals, or online.

Of course, they're never so popular as on the day when everyone celebrates being Irish (or wishes they were.)

Download them, buy the DVDs, or set your TIVO to record on March 17 to watch a lucky handful of top scenic, sentimental, and very entertaining films just right for viewing on St. Patrick's Day:

1. The Quiet Man (1952)

It's the familiar story starring John Wayne as an ex-patriot who comes to Ireland to escape his shadowy past; Maureen O'Hara, who plays the local redhead with the fiery temper; and Barry Fitzgerald who pulls out all the stops as a witty village curmudgeon.

If that's not enough, there's the stunning Galway countryside that also co-stars in this St. Patrick's Day classic that never grows old. Best moment: the old Irish graveyard in the rain, as Wayne and O'Hara act out one of the steamiest but tender love scenes in movie history.

2. Waking Ned Devine (1998)

With a winning lottery ticket in hand, Ned Devine has fallen dead from shock -- when his neighbors decide to profit from his good/bad luck. The plan? One of them will impersonate the deceased to collect the jackpot and split it with the rest of the town.

The long and twisted road to success centers around the film's star attraction, the Irish actor David Kelly, playing the hapless Ned impersonator. Best quote: "But he's never told a lie in his life!" "Well, he's making up for it now."

3. The Commitments (1991)

Follow the travails and triumph of a rag-tag band of misfits trying to introduce American soul music to the Dublin music scene. Mix in a startling connection between the working class Irish and the American civil rights movement, and you have all the makings of a funny, gritty, and memorable film.

Best quote: "The Irish are the blacks of Europe, Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland, and the North Siders are the blacks of Dublin ... so say it loud -- I'm black and I'm proud!" Did we mention the music? Best moment: a soulful and moving performance of "Try a Little Tenderness".

4. The Secret of Roan Inish (1994)

Little Fiona is sent off to live with her grandparents in a fishing village in Donegal to discover the ancient Irish myth (or is it?) of the mysterious Selkie, a seal who can shape shift into a human. As the spectacular scenery and lush musical score wash over you, the intriguing plot will pull you far out to sea. Guaranteed you'll be watching this again.

5. The Matchmaker (1997)

This minor romantic comedy gem excellently casts Janeane Garofalo as an assistant to a sleazy US politician who dispatches her to Ireland to research his Irish roots so he can win the Irish vote back home.

On arrival, her hard-bitten character comes under special scrutiny of the village's annual matchmaking festival. Needless to say, she eventually hooks up with a charming and strapping Irishman, and falls under Ireland's spell in the fine tradition of a 40's screwball comedy. Watch it for the laughs, the Irish music sound track, and (shot in Galway) the scenery.

6. Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959)

Still considered one of the lesser known Disney classics, movie magic is spun in the form of leprechauns, banshees, and a main love interest played out by Janet Munro and a young Sean Connery.

Best trivia tidbit: Was it the luck of the Irish? In one of the more improbable (but true) stories to come out of Hollywood, Sean Connery was put on the Hollywood map following his performance, resulting in his being cast in his first iconic role as James Bond in "Dr. No."

7. Going My Way (1944)

A sentimental favorite, if only for Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley singing Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra.....

More about St, Patrick's Day movies around the Web:

Top 10 St. Patrick's Day Movies - The countdown on their favorites along with disonorable mentions and what to avoid, with related resources.

A roundup of notable Irish films - feature with a slideshow and reviews of top and offbeat movie selections including My Left Foot, The Guard, Hunger, and more.

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