Quiet Man

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The Quiet Man: John Ford's Sentimental Journey

Dec 19, 2001 (Updated Dec 19, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Action Factor:

Pros:Direction, John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Photography, Supporting Actors, score

Cons:A tad slow and sentimental but fans will love it.

The Bottom Line: See Ireland through the eyes of John Ford, one of the greatest film directors.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

If you ever long to see the emerald green of Ireland, look no further than John Ford's The Quiet Man.

Starring Director Ford's favorite actor, the incomparable John "The Duke" Wayne, fiery redhead Maureen O'Hara, Ford's acting troupe stalwarts Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen, and native Irish talent, including Barry Fitzgerald, The Quiet Man tells the story of an American with a past that seeks his future in the sleepy Irish village of Innisfree.

Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns to his ancestral Irish village, buys his family's former cottage and makes an enemy of town bully Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) who also wants the cottage but is outbid by Thornton.

It so happens that Thornton also meets up with Danaher's younger sister, Mary Kate (Maureen O'Hara) and begins to woo her using the services of a traditional matchmaker (Barry Fitzgerald). Sean Thornton and Mary Kate get hitched but at the last moment Will Danaher snatches back the £350 dowry that rightfully belongs to Mary Kate. Danaher sucker punches Sean, knocking him flat. Sean has a flashback that reveals his secret to the viewer and why he does not get up and square off with the bully.

Shrugging it off, Sean takes his wife and goes home only to find out that Mary Kate thinks it is a really BIG deal. She bars Sean from her bed until he retrieves her money from Will. They sleep in separate rooms, but not before Sean casts her roughly on the bed, breaking it. The next morning the wedding party arrives with Mary Kate's furniture. The matchmaker carries a baby crib into the bedroom and marvels at the broken bed - obviously a Herculean effort on the opening night's festivities!

As the plot goes forward Mary Kay badgers Sean to get her dowry. The Anglican minister has been puzzling about Sean… he looks familiar. Finally he realizes Sean is a prizefighter who left the trade after accidentally killing an opponent in the ring. Sean still hesitates but is goaded into action when Mary Kate tries to leave him. He rides his thoroughbred to the train station and drags her bodily off the train and all five miles home. He drags her to Will's and asks him for the £350. Will grudgingly gives Sean a handful of paper money. Sean throws it into a nearby furnace and an epic brawl ensues. The brawl breaks up for drinks when the combatants fight their way inside the tavern only to re-erupt over a dispute as to who is paying for the drinks. The epic battle continues till sundown when the battered duo call it a draw. They drunkenly stagger to Sean's house for supper. And they all lived happily ever after…

The Quiet Man consisted of six weeks of filming on location in Ireland with the rest of the film shot in Hollywood. According to the back story included on the video cassette, called The Making of The Quiet Man, the quiet village did not have room to house all the cast and crew of such an ambitious project. It took Ford, a three time Oscar winner already, fifteen years to convince a studio to back his movie, which they all predicted to be a financial loser. Finally, B-picture studio Republic agreed to a three-picture deal, the first of which had to be a western. Ford, Wayne, and O'Hara complied with Rio Grande.

The acting is mainly sentimental low-key romantic scenes with plenty of Irish color spread all over. Normally a cowboy, Wayne was cast against type as the romantic lead and did fine service as Sean. The romantic scenes between O'Hara and him stand up to repeated viewings and are about as believable as they come on film. O'Hara did her usual convincing performance as the strong-willed young woman Mary Kate. Supporting cast Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, and Barry Fitzgerald also performed admirably, with the simian-like McLaglen a stand out.

Photography by Winton C. Hoch won the Oscar that year. It depicts the unearthly green of the Irish countryside in a memorable display of beauty. A con that spoils the effect somewhat: the outdoor shots of the countryside are intercut with close-ups of the actors that were obviously done in a studio in front of a backdrop. The score by Victor Young also is well suited to the pace of the scenes. John Ford won his fourth Oscar for best director, a record that still stands…

The Quiet Man is recommended for those who like romantic stories, persons of Irish descent, and fans of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, as well as followers of John Ford, one of America's greatest directors. Four stars.


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie

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