Angela's Ashes (film)

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Angela's Ashes is a 1999 film based on the memoir of the same title by Frank McCourt. It was directed by Alan Parker and starred Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens and Michael Legge (the latter three playing the Young, Middle and Older Frank McCourt respectively).


  • [Ship is sailing out of New York City] We must've been the only Irish family to be saying good bye to the statue of liberty rather than hello.
  • If I were in America I could say "I love you, dad", the way they do in the films. But in Limerick they'd laugh at you. In Limerick you are only allowed to say you love God, and babies, and horses that win. Anything else is softness in the head.
  • In the name of the father, the son and the holy toast.

[Commenting on traditional Irish dancing] If my mates saw me making a pure eejit out of myself at the Irish dancing, I'd be disgrace forever. I want to be Fred Astaire. Irish dancers look like they have steel rods stuck up their arses. ...

Dance instructor: Would you stop the frowning, McCourt? You've a face on you like a pound of tripe.

[Frank is lying in bed recovering from fever in hospital and a doctor sitting near him has farted] And then Dr. Campbell came in and held my hand. It was then that I knew I was going to get better because a doctor would never fart in the presence of a dying boy.

Grandma Sheehan


[Frank throws up his communion breakfast]

  • I've got God in me backyard!


  • We all miss Malachy. He's, uh, miss him? He... He's gone to join the army band! Playing the bugle. The bugle? Can you imagine that, playin' the bugle? Playin' the fool, more like.


Angela McCourt: If I were able I would go to work in the English factories.
Malachy: Factory's no place for a woman Angela.
Angela McCourt: Sittin’ on your arse is no place for a man Malachy.

Frank Voiceover: Also, Mikey is the expert in the lane on girls' bodies... and dirty things in general.
Mikey: Now, on top, the girls have great floppy things called titties. And at the end of them, great red things like dogs' noses. And down at the bottom- Now that's an entirely different matter. They don't have a mickey down there.
Frank: What do they have?
Mikey: I can tell you, but I don't think he should hear it.
Frank: Malachy, go away. [Mikey leans forward to whisper in Frank's ear] Eww! Yuck!
Frank: Oh, look, I'll take one of these as well. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.
Confessional priest: Yes, my child. And what sins have you committed?
Frank: I told a lie, I hit my brother, I stole a penny from my mother's purse, and I ate a sausage on Friday.
Confessional priest: Yes, my child, anything else?
Frank: I listened to dirty things about girls from the lanes... who don't care what they do because they because they've already done it with their brothers.
Confessional priest: And who told you these things?
Frank: Mikey Molloy, Father. - Hmm. For your penance, say three Hail Marys, three Our Fathers, and say a special prayer for me.
Frank: Am I one of the worst boys, Father?
Confessional priest: No, my child. You have a long way to go.
Grandma: Wake up! Wake up! His First Communion, the happiest day of his life, and the lot of you still snoring in there. Here, you two, get up. Go on. Look at him. A bar of soap wouldn't be lost on him. I'll be red raw. I swear it's the Northern Ireland in you. It attracts the dirt. You've the dirty gob of your father. Aah! That's cold. [Washing a Frank's ear] Jesus, you have enough dirt in your ears to grow potatoes. Will you look at that mop? It won't lie down. You didn't get this hair from our side of the family. This is North of Ireland hair you got from your father. It's like, like what you'd see on a Presbyterian. Will you stop spitting on me? A little spit won't kill you. If your mother had married a proper, decent Limerick man, you wouldn't have stand-up, North of Ireland, Protestant hair. And we wouldn't be late. Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi.

[Priest puts a wafer on Frank's tongue]

Priest: Will you stop your clucking and get back to your seat? Corpus Christi.
Frank: Mam, can I go now and make the Collection? I want to go to the Lyric to see James Cagney.
Grandma: You can't make the Collection until you've had a proper First Communion breakfast at my house. Mam. Will you look at him? The manners of a pig. He eats like a Presbyterian. Is it a millionaire you think I am? An American? Is there any more tea in the pot, Mam? - Aye. - I could do with a cup. You all right, Frankie? - What's the matter, Frankie? What's wrong with that child? [Frank runs out tp the backyard and vomits] Look what he did! He's thrown up the body and blood of Jesus. What am I to do? I have God in me backyard! I'm taking you to the priest. That was a dreadful thing you did in my backyard.
Frank: In the name of The Father and of The Son and of the Holy Ghost. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a day since my last confession. A day?
Confessional Priest: And what sins have you committed in a day, my son? I overslept, and I nearly missed my First Communion. My hair stuck up like a Protestant's, and I threw up my First Holy Communion breakfast. Now me grandma says she has God in her backyard and what shall she do? Tell your grandma to wash it away with a little water.
Grandma: Holy water or ordinary water?
Frank: He didn't say, Grandma.
Grandma: Well, go back and ask him.
Frank: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a minute since my last confession.
Confessional Priest: A minute? Are you the boy that was just here?
Frank: I am Father. My Grandma says holy water or ordinary water?
Confessional Priest: [sighs]
Frank: He says ordinary water and don't go on bothering him again.
Grandma Sheehan: "Bothering him"? The ignorant old bogtrotter.

[Teacher has pulled apart Frank and another boy fighting in the courtyard]
Teacher: You little hooligan. Is this the kind of behavior you brought from America? Is it? Well, you come on with me. I'll put the fighting out of you boy.
[Teacher is strapping a boy's hand exclaiming with each blow and Frank is upstairs listening on a stair landing and is then called down, who reluctantly walks up to the teacher who starts rolling back Frank's sleeve]
Teacher:You're a bad yank aren't you, McCourt? What are you?
Frank: They said we were cowboys and gangsters, sir.
Boy: I was only joking sir.
Teacher: No more jokes. It's not his fault that he's a yank.
Boy: T'isn't sir.
Teacher: You should go down on your knees every night and give thanks to god that you're not a yank. If you were, Al Capone would be coming to you for instruction.

[Teacher straps Frank once, Frank exclaims, other boy laughs, teacher straps the other boy]

[Frank is ashamed of his shoes that his father tried to repair by cutting up a bicycle tire to cobble it so he has taken them off, tossed it and is sitting in class barefooted only to be forced to put the shoes back on]

Teacher: Do I hear sneering in this class? Do I hear jeering at another's misfortune? Is there any boy in this class who thinks he's perfect? If so, raise your hands. Is there any boy here now who has money galore to be spending on shoes? Raise your hands. No. There are boys in this class who have no shoes at all and it's not their fault. It's not their shame. Our lord died shoeless! You don't see our lord hanging on the cross sporting shoes! Do you boys?
Class: No, sir!
Teacher: What don't you see our lord doing boys?
Class: Hanging on the cross sporting shoes!
Teacher:Hanging on the cross sporting shoes what?
Class: Hanging on the cross sporting shoes, sir!

Frank: Hoppy O'Halloran told Mam... to take me to the Christian Brothers, to say he sent me, and I was a bright boy... and ought to be going to secondary school... and maybe to university even. I wish he'd mind his own business. I want to quit school forever and get a job with wages every Friday night... I want to quit school forever and get a job with wages every Friday night... and go to the pictures every Saturday like everybody else.

[Angelas knocks on church door and a man appears]

Angela: I've come to see Brother Murray.
Frank: I don't know why we bothered. They took one look at us...
Church man: What do you want?
Angela: This is my son Frank. [Man immediately closes door]
Frank: And said no.

[Angelas and Frank are now walking]

Angela: Francis, will you listen to me? Are you listening?
Frank: I am.
Angela: You're never to let anybody slam the door in your face again. Do you hear me?
Frank: I do.

[Obese woman is calling in her sons playing pick up football outside]
Obese woman: Come in for the lovely leg of lamb. And the gorgeous green peas and the flowery potatoes.
Frank's father: Oh, shut up, will you woman? It's a low class mind to torment your neighbors when there's nothing but bread and tea we have.
Obese woman: Get off to work in England like the rest of our husbands.
Frank: Go and help England win a war? I wouldn't give the English the steam off my pish.
Obese woman: No, You'd rather drink the dole, and watch your sons run around all skin and bone, with their arses hanging out their trousers!

Father O'Halloran: America, wonderful land of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Sioux, Apache, Iroquois, poetry boys. and the chiefs! Listen. Kicking Bear, Rain-in-the-face, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and the man himself, the great Geronimo. [Holds up his portrait with a grinning face] Stock your minds boys and you can move through the world. Resplendent. Clarke, define "resplendent".
Clarke: I think it's shining, sir.
Father O'Halloran: Pithy, but adequate. McCourt, give us a sentence with "pithy".
Frank: Clarke is pithy but adequate, sir.
Father O'Halloran: Adroit, McCourt. You have a mind for the priesthood, my boy, or politics. Tell your mother to come and see me.

Church sermon: I say again, impurity. Impurity is so grave a sin... the Virgin Mary turns her face away and weeps. She weeps when she looks down... that long, dreary vista of time... and beholds in horror the spectacle of Limerick boys... defiling themselves, polluting themselves, soiling their young bodies which are the temple of the Holy Ghost. Interfering with themselves.
Narrator: We pray to the virgin Mary to say we're sorry, because we can't stop interfering with ourselves.
[Five boys standing behind a stone wall with one hand vigorously working something]
Boy 1: The dong!
All 5 boys:The dong!
Boy 2: The prick!
All 5 boys: The prick!
Boy 3: The dick!
All 5 boys: The dick!
Boy 4: The langer!
All 5 boys:The langer!
Frank: The excitement!
All 5 boys: The excitement!
A boy: The excitement?
Frank: Yeah!
[A rear shot reveals the boys masturbating]

Frank: Paddy Clohessy found a priest to confess our hideous sins to. He's 90 years old and deaf as a turnip. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been ages since me last confession. I've been masturbating. Except one day, he died and didn't tell us. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been a fort- [Frank realises it's another priest, a young man. and sits up more stiffly and seriously] It's been a fortnight since my last confession.
Priest: And what have you done since then, my child?
Frank: I, uh, I hit my brother. I lied to my mother.
Priest: Yes, my child. And what else?
Frank: Uh, I did dirty things, Father.
Priest: Ah, my child, was that with yourself or with another? Or with some class of beast?
Frank: Beast? I never heard of a sin like that, Father. [Voice of thought] This priest must be from the country. He's opening up new worlds for me.

Angela: Frankie, will you shut the door?
Malachy: Let's go.
Frank: Right. Let's go. Malachy, the wheel's all bockety.
Malachy: Kaiser Bill marched over the hill
Frank: Shut up, will you?
Malachy: To fight the British Army They're all going to know we got the eviction.
Frank: Will you be quiet? [Narrating] And so Malachy, Michael, Mam, and me... moved into mom's cousin's. Laman Griffin. on the Rosbrien Road.  :Laman: Did you get the library books?
Frank: I did.
Laman: Go in the yard and see if there's something else to go on this fire.
Frank: Is that for us?
Angela: No, his lordship upstairs.

[Narrating] Why ask? It was the same every week- one steak, four potatoes, an onion, and a bottle of stout.

Angela: Frankie, are you back? Will you take up the books?
Laman: Good boy, Frankie. Put them on the bed there. Angela, the chamber pot is full. Is there anything else your lordship would like? Woman's work, Angela. Woman's work and free rent.
Frank: I'll empty it.
Laman: You will? Okay, Frankie. Take it outside and rinse it under the tap. And from now on, that will be your job.
Griffin: You useless great lump, living free under me roof with you snotty-nosed pack of brats. [Speaking to Frank] You. Go to the shop for a few sods and some kindling. Come on. Or are you as useless as your mother? Did you empty the chamber pot today?
Frank: Shite. I left it on the stairs.
Griffin:You stand there with your thick gob and tell me you didn't do it?
Frank:I'm sorry. I forgot. I'll do it now.
Angela:He couldn't do it.
Griffin:Shut up woman.
Angela:It was his last day at school and he had to go to the doctor.
Griffin:I said, shut up woman!
Frank:You can't tell us to shut up. You're not our father!
Griffin:If I have to get up from this table, you'll be calling for your patron saint.
Frank:Shut your gob.
[Griffin grabs Frank and starts viciously striking Frank's face off-camera with Angela frantically trying to stop Griffin]
Griffin: Give me a fag, woman. I'm telling you, that boy is a little shite.

[Frank is watching his mother, who is also watching him as she starts stepping up the stairs]

Frank: I thought mam would come and kiss me good night, to say thank you for sticking up for her. But no. She went to him.
Uncle Pat: What happened to your face? It's all swole. Did someone punch you?
Frank: Yeah.
Uncle Pat: Who was punching you?
Frank: Joe Louis.
Uncle Pat :Joe Louis? I thought he lived in America. Was he visiting Limerick?
Frank: He was, Uncle Pat.
Uncle Pat: That's not right, him hitting a wee boy. And him being a heavyweight champion of America and all.
Frank: The world champion he is Uncle Pat
Uncle Pat:T hat's worse. And look at you, so skinny. Those arms wouldn't lift two stamps. Some things is most peculiar, Frankie. I'm off to bed

[Frank is trying to impress a colleague in a hallway lined with other postal delivery boys

Frank: Fuck off, you bollocks!
Miss Barry: Your mouth is a lavatory, McCourt. Did you hear me? You've been heard on the stairs, McCourt.
Frank: Yes, Miss Barry.
Miss Barry: Shut up, McCourt.
Frank: I will, Miss Barry.
Miss Barry :Not another word, McCourt.
Frank: No, Miss Barry.
Miss Barry:I said shut up, McCourt.
Frank:All right, Miss Barry.
Miss Barry:That's the end of it McCourt, Don't try me.
Frank: I-I won't Miss Barry.
Miss Barry: Mother of God! Give me patience!
Frank: Yes, Miss Barry.
Miss Barry: Take the last word. McCourt. Take it. Take it. Take it!
Frank: I will Miss Barry.

[All the boys break out in celebratory applause]

[Teacher is putting pieces of newspaper on the boys tongues]

Teacher: And what do I have here, Clohessy?
Clohessy: Pieces of the Limerick Leader, sir!
Teacher: No! The body and blood of Christ. If you don't pay anymore attention, it'll be the last rites. You'll be getting, not your holy communion. Irish is the language of Patriots. And English of traitors and informers. But Latin, ah boys, Latin. That the holy martyrs spoke before expiring in the foaming mouths of ravenous lions. Yes, it's Latin that gains the entrance to heaven itself. But there are boys in this class, who will never know sanctifying grace. And why? Because of greed. Those greedy little blackguards are talking even now, about the money they'll get from the collection. They'll go from house to house in their little suits like beggars. And will they take any of that money and send it to the the poor black babies in Africa as they should? Oh, no. It's off to the cinema the first communion boys will go, to wallow in the disgusting filth spewed across the world by the devil's henchman... in Hollywood. Isn't that right McCourt?
McCourt: 'tis sir.
Teacher: Don't speak you! Can't you see that God is on your tongue? Where is God, boys?
Class: On his tongue, sir.

[Teacher is peeling an apple with all the boys looking on covetously]

Cohessy: Sir, What use is Euclid when the Germans are bombing everything in sight?
Teacher: What use is Euclid? Without Euclid, the Messerschmitt could never have taken to the sky and dart from cloud to cloud and bomb the bejesus out of the English who deserve it after what they did to the Irish for 800 years. Euclid is grace and beauty and elegance. Do you understand that boys?
Class: We do, sir.
Teacher: I doubt it. To love euclid, is to be alone in this world. You. Clohessy. Who stood at the foot of the cross when our lord was crucified?
Clohessy: The Twelve Apostles sir.
Teacher: Clohessy, what is the Irish word for fool?
Clohessy: Omadhaun sir.
Fintan: Sir. I know who stood at the foot of the cross, sir. It was the three Marys, sir.
[Teacher feeds a slice of apple to a pious looking boy]
Narrator: That's Fintan Slattery. He's going to be a saint when he gets older. everyone knows he wears his sister's blouse at night, and curls his hair with hot iron tongs, so that he'll look gorgeous at mass on Sundays. It's no wonder we played truant.

Paddy: Frankie, there's nothing in the world, like a good feed of apples and a drink of water, and a good shit and plenty of grass to wipe your arse with. [ Cow Moos]
Frank: Paddy, quick, wipe your arse, It's milking time!

[Frank is lying in bed and Aggie enters the bedroom]

Aunt Aggie:What are you doing in this house, in that bed? Get up and put down the kettle for you poor Uncle Pat, that fell down for the worse for drink. [Aggie rips off the covers] Mother of God! Your wearin me dead mother's dress.
Frank: I washed my clothes for the big job.
Aunt Aggie: What big job?
Frank: Telegram boy at the post office.
Aunt Aggie: If the post officer are taking on the likes of you, they must be in a desperate state.

Miss Finucane: How old are you boy?
Frank: Fifteen and some missus.
Miss Finucane: Old enough and ugly enough.
Frank: Yes, missus.
Miss Finucane: But are you smart boy? Are you in any way intelligent?
Frank: I can read and write, Mrs. Finucane.
Miss Finucane: There's people in the lunatic asylum that can read and write. Can you write a letter?
Miss Finucane: Threaten them boy. Threaten the life out of them.
Miss Finucane: This word, "inasmuch". That's a holy terror of a word. What does it mean?
Frank: It means, this is your last chance.
[Frank walks into the kitchen]
Frank: What's up with Mrs. Hannon?
Angela: That old bitch sent her a threatening letter. Look. People who write letters like that should be boiled in hot oil and have their fingernails pulled out by blind people.
Frank: Everyone I know and half the poor of Limerick are here. They all owed the old bitch money. Well, not anymore.

[Throws ledger book into the River Shannon]

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