The Quiet Man (1952)
I guess John Ford’s The Quiet Man proves that I’m just a romantic at heart. I mean the whole world knows that John Wayne is a cowboy, a man’s man, yet a good many of his fans will point to this wonderfully romantic film as their personal favorite of the Duke’s. That says a lot considering the more well known titles in the Wayne catalog. Is this my favorite film that the Duke ever graced? Well if it isn’t it has to be a close second depending on which day of the week you ask me. It’s definitely my all time favorite Maureen O’Hara film.
For those that have never bothered with Ford’s pet project it’s the story of the American raised John Wayne who has returned to his birthplace in the countryside of Ireland after retiring from the boxing ring. Moments into the film time is going to stand still when Ford’s camera captures Miss O’Hara as seen by Wayne. Not only does time stand still but Wayne’s heart skips a beat (and so does mine) as he watches her pass by. She too will notice the big man smiling at her and take that quick look over her shoulder as she moves along.
That sets the tone for the balance of Ford’s film. Wayne will have to overcome a major obstacle to win the fiery redhead’s hand. Her brother Victor McLaglen who has little use for Wayne after Duke purchases a piece of land he himself covets from the widow Mildred Natwick. Plenty of fireworks will ensue between these two dominant forces before the fadeout.
One of the major assets to Ford’s film is the color photography which looks absolutely stunning on the blu ray edition from Eureka I picked up recently. Not only that but Ford has brought along many of his stock players from Duke on down to the location shoot in Ireland including one of those great scene stealers of the era, Barry Fitzgerald, who is pure joy throughout as the chaperon who ensures no improprieties are taken. Others include Ward Bond, Arthur Shields, Francis Ford (Ford’s brother) and even little Patrick Wayne.
Ford scored his fourth Oscar for Best Director and the film deservedly won for best color cinematography as well. So many of Ford’s shots are like majestic paintings. Breathtaking and unforgettable. He actually signed on with Republic Pictures to get this project off the ground after first giving Herbert J. Yates another cavalry film. In this case Rio Grande. Quiet Man would lose out on Best Picture, Screenplay, Sound Editing and a Supporting Actor nod for McLaglen. What the film really deserved was nominations for all the principles. Always underrated as an actor, Duke is excellent here right alongside his favorite leading lady who herself should have easily scored an Oscar nomination. Finally it’s not McLaglen that should have been recognized but rather Barry Fitzgerald. He’s that good and as always I challenge you to catch him acting. Not likely.
So next time someone who isn’t necessarily a film buff mentions that cowboy actor John Wayne, refer them to this magnificent film from the one and only John Ford.
Now let’s celebrate the film with some great images and quotes.
“Is this a courting or a donnybrook? Have the good manners not to hit the man until he’s your husband and entitled to hit you back.”
Maureen : “Could you use a little water in your whiskey?”
Barry : “When I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey; and when I drink water, I drink water.”
“There’ll be no locks or bolts between us, Mary Kate… except those in your own mercenary little heart!”
McLaglen : “I’ll count three, and if you’re not out of the house by then, I’ll loose the dogs on you.”
Wayne : “If you say “three,” mister, you’ll never hear the man count “ten.”
Ward Bond : “Now I want you’se all to cheer like Protestants!”
“Come a-runnin’? I’m no woman to be honked at and come a-runnin’!”
One more from dear Barry … “No patty-fingers, if you please. The proprieties at all times. Hold on to your hats.”
And because I love this scene that has that magic Ford touch ….
Heaven forbid you tell me you’re a classic movie fan and have never fallen in love with this John Ford classic that proved a feather in the cap to all who participated. If you haven’t seen it you’ll thank me for the recommendation and if you have, then do yourself a favor and watch it all over again. It’s a film like this one that makes me realize how much I love films in general but especially those of yesteryear.
If you’ve seen the film and love it as I do, you might find some interesting trivia bits here at the link to the IMDB.
Till the next time I journey back to Ireland and revisit Maureen and Duke………..