The idea of Brendan Behan eventually became greater than the man himself. No one knew this better than the Roaring Boy, who played up to the image of “a drinker with a writing problem”. By the early sixties Behan was the toast of the West End, the toast of Broadway, the toast of every-effing-where, but his best works, The Quare Fellow, The Hostage, and his biography Borstal Boy, were all behind him, and his confidence had been battered through working with the firebrand director, Joan Littlewood, who had turned the English version of The Hostage into a “Knees Up Mrs Brown”. Unable to stay focussed long enough to put pen to paper, Behan was forced to record his last works (rambling travelogs of New York and Dublin, the play Richard’s Cork Leg) onto tape-recorder for others to transcribe. It was a terrible waste, and of course there’ll be those who’ll say a lesson of sorts, but so what, as his fall form grace didn’t stop the great man’s legend form soaring.
Two years after the Behan’s death, Irish producer / director Norman Cohen (later best known the film version of Spike Milligan‘s Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall and the Confessions of…. comedy porn series) made Brendan Behan’s Dublin, a travelog of the Irish capital based on the playwright’s memoirs, anecdotes and writing of the city by Carolyn Swift, and narrated by Ray McAnally as Behan. The Dubliners supplied the soundtrack.
Previously on Dangerous Minds