Written and read by Rosemary Barnes (2019)
1968, In the year of the Prague Spring, International student insurrection and the assassination of Martin Luther King, the Kilkenny People announced that “Hollywood comes to Kilkenny” because a colourful one million pound film begins, “soldiers on horseback, periwigged gentlemen, footmen, ladies in long flowing gowns with bustles, period coaches, sedans and action galore” with a cast of some of the most impressive names in British cinema, these were the scenes to be found all over the city as the filming of Lock up your Daughters began1.
In the past filmmakers had come to Ireland to film Irish stories set in vast landscapes of mountains, valleys and the sea but Lock up your daughters is an English story, told by an English production company, who required an urban built landscape, a place that resembled London in the 1700s. That place was Kilkenny. The Castle, narrow streets and laneways ideally suited the period setting2.
The film uses Henry Fieldings play ‘Rape upon Rape’ and ‘The Relapse’ by John Vanburgh as the basis of the screenplay by Keith Waterstone and Willis Hall. The film was directed by renowned theatre Director Peter Coe and was produced by Domino Films, it is 102 minutes long with an ‘X’ certificate. It starred Christopher Plummer, Susanna York, Glynis Johns and Jim Dale and was released in 19693.
The film has a rather confused plot about 3 lusty sailors whose amourous pursuits entangle them with the corrupt Lord Foppington and Sir Tunbelly. Thirsting for wine and women they set out to look for excitement. Unfortunately their wooing results in comedy and passion as they are drawn into intrigues, plots, counterplots, preposterous misunderstandings and miscalculations.
The outdoor filming process brought great excitement to the City and County, as well as a huge boost to the local economy, people still talk about it with great fondness and appreciation for the explosion of glamour and crazy cultural expression.
Some locals auditioned for parts and appear in the film but some difficulties arose when recruiting extras, it proved almost impossible to persuade local women to play buxom wenches in low-cut gowns, especially when rumours spread that women were being offered up to £150.00 to run naked in the streets. Some locals felt that due to the inappropriateness of the subject matter that it “was not fit to be filmed and that it would result in the city getting a bad name” and eventually extras were recruited in England and Dublin4.
The film was not a critical success. The Director Peter Coe returned to the theatre and never worked in film again. Neither Christopher Plummer nor the screenwriters include it in their filmography. Domino Productions are no longer in existence. The movie has little or no connection to the original works of Fielding or Vanburgh. But it did entertain the inhabitants of Kilkenny for a few short months in 1968.
1 Kilkenny People 1968.
2 Flynn, Arthur. (2005) The Story of Irish Film. Currach Press: Dublin, p. 107.