My Hall Of Fame
John Ford and John Wayne made 24 movies together, a lot of which are westerns. When you look back on their collaborations there are many films that standout as landmark films, but perhaps the most unusual (and one of the most brilliant ) of these films is “The Quiet Man” (1952). It’s not a western or a war film, but rather the most underused genre in Ford’s career, the romance.
Retired boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) has left America for the town of Innisfree, Ireland. Although he was raised by his mother in America, Sean was born in this small town, just like his father and his father before. Looking to make a new life, Sean quickly reconnects with an old and humorous man named Michaeleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald), who serves as his guide and friend. While visiting his childhood home Sean catches a glimpse of the feisty and beautiful Mary Kate Danagher (Maureen O’Hara), and he is instantly swept away by her presence.
Sean decides to buy back his family’s old home, but Mary Kate’s older brother, Will (Victor McLaglen), also wants the land. Sean outbids Will, but Will remains bitter and resentful towards Sean and refuses to allow Sean to marry Mary Kate. Michaeleen conspirers with Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond) and they come up with a way to trick Will into giving his sister away, but once Will finds out he has been fooled he refuses to give Mary Kate her dowry.
Mary Kate wants Sean to fight for her birthright, but Sean has his own reasons for remaining a quiet, peaceful man; at least for a brief time, anyway.
I know that there are lots of people out there who don’t love John Wayne. I might not understand what you have against the man, but I have stopped trying to convince everyone that they should love him and his films. With that being said, this is the film where EVERYONE should love John Wayne. He’s comical, dashing, passionate and an all together delight to watch as his entire focus in the film is earning the love and respect of his wife.
Maureen O’Hara was born for this film, as she is able to sweep through the hills of Ireland as if that’s what she really did every day. Obviously O’Hara and Wayne worked brilliantly together because they were so close personally. Naturally their chemistry is undeniable, and of their films together, this one is by far the most fun.
Victor McLaglen earned an Academy Award nomination for his “bad guy” role in this film. He had to be one of the most difficult characters to cast because you needed someone who could pull off the mean spirited Irish brother, but he also had to be a mountain of a man to be able to square off against the six foot four inch Wayne. Their encounters in this film are perfect, and when they finally meet in the last reel for their confrontation, the payoff is completely worth the wait.
Barry Fitzgerald supplies endless amounts of comic relief and is at his absolute best. He always seems to have a good sense of humor in his films, but “The Quiet Man” goes beyond all his previous roles and allows him to act how I always imagined he would in his real life. Fitzgerald is particularly great in the scenes that take place during Sean and Mary Kate’s courtship. (Ward Bond has a good little comic role as well.)
John Ford was nominated for an Academy Award for best director five times in his career, winning four of them, including one for “The Quiet Man”. Ford was always a talented director, but it seems today he is only remembered for his westerns. Perhaps this is because that is how he always seemed to remember himself. Four Academy Awards for Best Director is something that seems unobtainable today. He is the only director to ever win the award four times, and there are only two directors thus far who have three directing Oscars (William Wyler & Frank Capra). What is most interesting about John Ford’s four awards is that the films, “The Informer” (1935), “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940), “How Green Was My Valley” (1941) and “The Quiet Man” (1952) are not westerns. The films that we most associate with him are the ones that obtained recognition in later years.
“The Quiet Man” also won an Oscar for Winton C. Hoch and Archie Smith for their unbelievably breathtaking cinematography. In total, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and still stands out as one of Ford and Wayne’s best collaborations. “The Quiet Man” has recently been released on blu-ray in a 60th Anniversary Edition.Back to Home for More Reviews