The Quiet Man (1952)

Arriving in Ireland. *sigh* Lucky.

“We Danahers are a fightin’ people.”

In th’ spirit o’ St. Patty’s Day, I’m recommendin’ a film which celebrates th’ joy and serenity of Ireland. Good ol’ Ireland. I’m thinkin’ quite seriously o’ typin’ in an Irish accent fer this entire post. Whaddya think?

Don’t worry, I’m not serious. It’s tempting, but for the sake of conserving apostrophes, I’ll fight my urge. It’s just difficult for me to talk like a Yank while describing the single most beautifully, unapologetically Irish film ever to come out of Hollywood.

One of my personal favorites, The Quiet Man boasts an extremely entertaining cast, namely John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and the wonderful Barry Fitzgerald. Don’t fret; Wayne does not try to feign an Irish brogue. He’s who he is in every film: John Wayne. Maureen O’Hara is, as always, beautiful, a great actress, and very *ahem* determined. And the hilarity of Barry Fitzgerald’s laid-back, happy-drunk character is absolutely unmatched.

If you don’t LOVE Irish culture before viewing this movie, I guarantee you will after viewing it. (And if you don’t, keep it to yourself, ya curmudgeon.) There’s music, scenery, and lovely Irish brogues aplenty. When I watch Monty Python, I wish against wish that I had been born British. When I watch The Quiet Man, I dream I was Irish. I mean, I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…but why don’t WE have cool accents?

But seriously, folks. If you’re turned off to this film because of John Wayne, please hear me out. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love and respect John Wayne, and those who hate him. Those who belong to the latter category are entirely nonsensical, and I sincerely worry about them. However, most people who dislike The Duke dislike his Western roles. And although he is definitely not a character actor, he displays actual emotion and heart in this film.

And you don’t even want to get me started on Maureen O’Hara. A beautiful, redheaded, full-blooded Irish woman who can act and sing? Are you kidding me? I’ll take a dozen!

Barry Fitzgerald went sadly unknown for most of his career. He was never a superstar, though he indubitably should’ve been. He did win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Going My Way, 1941, which I’m sure we’ll get to later), but he was never (I think) recognized as the great actor he was. He does not disappoint in The Quiet Man.

As always, I could keep talking and keep talking and keep talking. And I will. Hee hee!

The film contains a number of exciting, legendary scenes. These include a horse race, a rain-drenched kiss, and perhaps the single longest fistfight ever to be filmed. In one word, The Quiet Man is great, fantastic, wonderful, terrific, grand, epic, super, or awesome. Take your pick.

Synopsis

Sean Thornton (John Wayne) has returned to Ireland from America to reclaim his childhood home. On the wagon ride to Innisfree, his hometown, he briefly encounters the beautiful Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara). She is the sister of the town bully, “Red” Will Danaher, who vehemently forbids the love that gradually grows between Sean and Mary Kate. However, with the conniving help of Sean’s newfound friends–Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald), Reverend Playfair, and Father Lonergan–Will Danaher finally gives in. Thus, Sean and Mary Kate begin courtship. Their relationship blossoms faster than the conventional courtship process, and soon they are wed. Will Danaher is down, but not out. He continually attempts to ruin their relationship, and comes dangerously close to succeeding. To save his marriage, Sean must confront his tragic past and step up to Will Danaher.

Information

Directed by John Ford;

Written by Maurice Walsh (story on which it was based), and Frank S. Nugent (screenplay);

Starring John Wayne as Sean Thornton, Maureen O’Hara as Mary Kate Danaher, Barry Fitzgerald as Michaleen Oge Flynn, Victor McLaglen as “Red” Will Danaher, and Ward Bond as Father Peter Lonergan;

Produced by Merian C. Cooper and John Ford;

Music by Victor Young.

Trivia

This is one of the few Hollywood films in which you can hear Gaelic, the national language of Ireland.

John Ford first read the story in 1933, nineteen years before the film was released, and bought the film rights for ten dollars. It took him twelve years to acquire enough financing and ten years to make the film. The major studios were afraid to produce it for fear that it wouldn’t draw audiences.

Green, the national color of Ireland, can be seen somewhere in every single shot of the film.

During the scene where John Wayne first kisses Maureen O’Hara, she slaps his face. When he blocked the blow, she broke a bone in her hand. But because the movie was being filmed in sequential order, she couldn’t wear a cast.

At the film’s conclusion, after the credits, we see Kate and Sean standing in their garden waving good-bye. Maureen O’Hara turns to John Wayne and whispers something in his ear, eliciting a genuinely surprised expression from Wayne. What was said was known only to O’Hara, Wayne and Ford. In exchange for saying this unscripted line, O’Hara insisted that the exact line never be disclosed by any involved parties. In her memoirs she says that she refused to say the line at first as she “couldn’t possibly say that to Duke”, but Ford insisted, claiming he needed a genuine shock reaction from Wayne. Even to this day, the line remains a mystery.

Another manly sneak peek:

April is Musical Month! I can’t wait!

-luke

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Maureen O’Hara is the last surviving member of the Quiet Man cast.


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