Cinemax's The McCourts of New York is a
sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, always Irish reminiscence about the McCourt
brothers' good life in America.
Frank McCourt's book, Angela's Ashes,
recalled their mother, Angela, and their hard-knock childhood in Limerick, Ireland. This
75-minute documentary is in effect the sequel, following the boys -- Frank, Malachy, Mike
and Alphie -- as they build a new life in the States.
All four have the gift of gab, as captured nicely by
Malachy's son, Conor, the show's co-producer and director. But it's
Malachy's and Frank's colorful storytelling that makes this special come alive.
Frank, the oldest brother, says he used the G.I. Bill and
his Irish brogue to talk his way into New York University, despite lacking a high-school
diploma. He went on to teach at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, where his inquisitive
students' questions about his impoverished childhood inspired him to write his best
The bearded, gregarious Malachy went from saloon owner to
actor -- as a bartender on soap opera Ryan's Hope and as a British king in
several commercials -- and also began appearing on television talk shows. "Nobody
could pin me to being anything," he says laughingly. "I was known for being
In a segment shot in Bombay, India, Malachy remembers
recklessly jumping at a chance to visit that country in exchange for smuggling gold there.
At one point, Frank and Malachy teamed up on a stage show,
but their mother was "very much taken aback" that they were "washing the
[family's] dirty linen in public," Frank recalls.
Mike says he was "introduced to the wonderful world of
booze" as a bartender at Malachy's saloon. Later fired for drinking too much, he
opened a bar in San Francisco. Although bitter that their alcoholic father disrupted their
childhood, he and Malachy only briefly hint that their own drinking helped to wreck their
In the show's poignant final 20 minutes, the brothers
McCourt -- having found the grave of the infant Margaret, whose death "broke [our]
mother's heart" -- reunite there for emotional closure.
Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, The McCourts of
New York airs on Cinemax March 16 at 6:30 p.m.