A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in 1920s Ireland, where he falls for a spirited redhead whose brother is contemptuous of their union.A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in 1920s Ireland, where he falls for a spirited redhead whose brother is contemptuous of their union.A retired American boxer returns to the village of his birth in 1920s Ireland, where he falls for a spirited redhead whose brother is contemptuous of their union.
He went to Republic Pictures partly because John Wayne was just winding down his contract with them and he wouldn't have to pay him extra, and partly because Herbert J. Yates's small studio was the last stop. Ford got the permission for The Quiet Man on the condition he do a sure fire moneymaking John Wayne cavalry picture first. So Ford, Wayne, and Maureen O'Hara did Rio Grande first before setting out for Ireland.
In her recent memoirs O'Hara said that this was her role of a lifetime, she knew it would be before one frame of film was shot. She'd been playing in a load of ridiculous Hollywood drivel films as a redheaded Bedouin princess and she did them essentially for the money. This one was to be a labor of love.
Love yes, but a labor nonetheless. John Ford was a talented, but strange man to work for. He could be a bully and a tyrant on any set he was on. She was grateful to him for the career making roles she got with him, but recognized his faults. She relates in her memoirs that Ford used his influence to knock her out of an Oscar Nomination for Mary Kate Danaher in 1952 over some trivial offense Ford thought O'Hara committed and took umbrage.
It was a family affair for Wayne of sorts as well. His kids came to Ireland with him and you can see them at the horse racing scene as extras. Young Patrick Wayne spoke his first movie lines. He also had with him his second wife, Esperanza Baur who was not his kid's mom. She was a tempestuous sort and they would soon part in a very ugly divorce.
Sean Thornton who was born in Innisfree, but went to America as a toddler, has come back to his native Ireland after making a name for himself as a prizefighter and killing a man in the ring. He and Maureen O'Hara have an instant attraction for each other. However Wayne does run afoul of her bully of a brother, Squire Will Danaher played by Ford regular Victor McLaglen.
Wayne and O'Hara marry, but McLaglen won't turn over the bride's dowry. And Wayne won't contest him for it.
So with a little help from The Taming of the Shrew and a bit of Falstaff thrown in, things are put right in Innisfree. More I won't say.
As in all of John Ford's films and this is one of the best, he got some grand performances from some of the most minute characters in the film. Some of his regulars like Ward Bond, Mildred Natwick, Ken Curtis, Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields with the rest of the roles played by Dublin's acclaimed Abbey Theatre players. One of my favorites is Jack McGowran who played Feeney, Squire Danaher's little toady factotum.
The music was arranged by Victor Young who did a grand job of using traditional Irish melodies in the score. One song, The Isle of Innisfree was recorded by Bing Crosby for Decca and sold a few platters for him the year The Quiet Man came out.
The Quiet Man is an annual classic for St. Patrick's Day, the same way It's A Wonderful Life is for Christmas. At least in America it is. I've wondered if it is as well received in Ireland as it is here. I think John Ford, the former Sean O'Fearna, was hoping it would turn out that way.
Mr. Ford, you got your wish.
- Oct 3, 2005