The Quiet Man (1952) John Ford
John Ford directed this classic Irish favorite. After purchasing the movie rights for a mere $10, he was turned down by studios until he went to Republic who would make the film only under the proviso that they make the western “Rio Grande” first to make up for any eventual loss that they might incur on The Quiet Man. As it turns out, the film was a financial success and one of the top ten grossing films of the year it was released and to this day remains a favorite among many.
The movie begins in the fictional town of Innisfree with Sean Thornton (played by John Wayne) returning to and intending to purchase his boyhood home to live. At first sight he is smitten with the beautiful redhead, Mary Kate Danaher (played by Maureen O’Hara). Mary Kate’s brother, Will Danaher, is a landowner in town and becomes upset over the prospect of Thornton being sold the land, as he has made several attempts to buy the property himself. However, the Widow Tillane, who now owns the property, sells it to Thornton out of spite because of Danaher’s presumptuousness that she and he had “an understanding”. Thornton, a peaceful man, dismisses Danaher’s acrimonious contempt as a result of having the rug yanked out from under him.
In the tradition of the times, Mary Kate’s brother’s permission is needed for Thornton to court the lovely Mary Kate which Will refuses to give and expels Thornton and the local matchmaker from his home. After a scheme is later devised between the local clergy and the matchmaker, Mary Kate and Sean are eventually allowed to date. However, the ruse is discovered on the afternoon of Sean and Mary Kate’s wedding and Will refuses to surrender Mary Kate’s dowry. She, in turn, denies Thornton on their wedding night and calls him a coward for not fighting for what’s rightfully hers.
Mary Kate receives her belongings the next day, after local townsfolk intervene on her behalf. However, there is still the issue of the money she’s earned which her brother has not yet surrendered. This becomes a source of contingency between she and Sean and the high-spirited Mary Kate leaves him the next day, unable to be proud of him. Thornton races to the train before Mary Kate departs and drags her, literally, all the way home to her brother and demands her dowry. This scene, along with the ensuing fight scene between Thorton and Will Danaher that climaxes the movie, is the highlight of the film, and one of the most memorable moments in movie history.
Filmed in Cong, Ireland, which today still celebrates The Quiet Man as one of Ireland’s most famous films, The Quiet Man won John Ford an Academy Award for Best Director, and Winton C. Hoch and Archie Stout an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The latter is well deserved because the Irish countryside is almost its own supporting role in the film and is beautifully represented throughout.
And to think this beloved classic almost wasn’t made.
Great review of what is still by and large my favorite John Wayne.