‘Deoch an Dorais’ (Name Your Poison) takes and engaging and thought-provoking look at the extraordinary legend of “Durable” Mike Malloy, an Irish emigrant in New York during Prohibition who became folk legend and quiz show trivia for his sad and farcical death.
Nicknamed “Rasputin of the Bronx”, Michael Malloy was the unwitting victim of an insurance scam cooked up by desperate New Yorkers during poor and desperate times. After succeeding to kill and cash in on an ex girlfriend, Speakeasy owner, Tony Marino enlists the help of three others including the bar tender and an undertaker, to target what they think will be an easy kill in dunkard Malloy. After poiisoning him with copious amounts of pure alcohol, ethanol and even antifreeze are miraculously thwarted, frustration grows for the wannabe murderers and they turn to brutal and merciless means.
The documentary is not a long or drawn out affair unlike Malloy’s assassination. Inspired when hearing about Malloy’s extraordinary story on TV quiz show QI, All-Ireland winning Donegal Captain Anthony Molloy decides search for more information about the Malloy that wouldn’t be killed. Reflecting on his own struggle with alcoholism and the history of Irish emigration to the United States, Molloy’s reaction and revelations mirror own about the darker side of the prohibition era, where souls could be bought and sold and it’s effect on the proud immigrants searching for the American Dream.
Incorporating contemporary footage of New York and interviews with a range of scientific and academic commentators, Deoch an Dorais also impressively reenacts scenes from Malloy’s story with some beautiful lighting and simple design they render a believable 1930’s NYC without making it cartoonish. Under Paddy Hayes impressive direction, the scenes are successful without any need for dialogue from Malloy. The significance and affect of only visually representing Malloy, means that he becomes the poster child for the many unknown immigrants lost during that time. Despite extensive research, little is documented or known about the Malloy the man before or even during his time in New York other than his extraordinary death. In making this documentary Hayes has ensured a place in memory for an innocent man that might have otherwise been forgotten like so many others.