The Quiet Man

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The Quiet Man
Poster - Quiet Man, The 01.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Ford
Produced by John Ford
Merian C. Cooper
Screenplay by Frank S. Nugent
Based on short story by
Maurice Walsh
Starring John Wayne
Maureen O'Hara
Barry Fitzgerald
Ward Bond
Victor McLaglen
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Winton Hoch
Edited by Jack Murray
Production
  company
Argosy Pictures
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date(s) 21 July 1952 (UK)
August (Venice Film Fest.)
14 August (US)
Running time 129 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,750,000
Box office $3.2 million (US)[1]

The Quiet Man is a 1952 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Ford. It stars John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen. The screenplay by Frank S. Nugent was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story by Maurice Walsh entitled The Green Rushes. The film is notable for Winton Hoch's lush photography of the Irish countryside and a long, climactic, semi-comic fist fight. It was an official selection of the 1952 Venice Film Festival. The film won the Academy Award for Best Director for John Ford, his fourth, and for Best Cinematography. In 2013 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[2]

Plot[edit]

In the 1920s, Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an Irish-born American from Pittsburgh, travels to Ireland to reclaim his family's farm in Inisfree. He meets and falls in love with the fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara), the sister of the bullying, loud-mouthed landowner Squire "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). Danaher, angry that Sean outbid him for the Thornton land adjacent to his property, initially refuses to sanction the marriage until several town locals, including the Catholic priest, Father Lonergan (Ward Bond), conspire to trick him into believing that the wealthy Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick) wants to marry him, but only if Mary Kate is no longer living in his house. After learning the truth on Sean and Mary Kate's wedding day, an enraged Will refuses to give his sister her full dowry.

Sean, unschooled in Irish customs, cares nothing about the dowry, but Mary Kate is obsessed with obtaining it. The dowry represents her independence, identity, and pride. Angered and shamed by Sean's refusal to confront her brother and demand what is legally hers, she brands him a coward, and, despite living together, they are estranged as husband and wife.

Sean had been a boxer in the United States, a heavyweight challenger known as "Trooper Thorn". After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, Sean hung up his gloves, vowing never to fight again. This is known to only one person in the village, the Church of Ireland minister, the Rev. Playfair (Arthur Shields), who once upon a time had been the lightweight champion and thus understands Thornton's internal conflict.

Later, in an attempt to force Sean to confront Will, Mary Kate leaves him and boards a train departing Castletown and headed to Dublin. Infuriated, Sean drags her off the train, and, followed by the townspeople, forces her to walk the five miles to Inisfree from Castletown to the Danaher farm. Sean demands that Will hand over her dowry and threatens to return Mary Kate to his household if he refuses. Will finally relents and gives him the cash. Mary Kate and Sean throw it into a furnace together, showing that Mary Kate never cared about the money, but only what it represented. A long, memorable fistfight ensues between Sean and Will. They slug it out through the village, stop for a drink, brawl again, then become best friends. Sean regains Mary Kate's love and respect. Will and the Widow Tillane begin courting, and peace is returned to Inisfree.

Cast[edit]

Cast notes
  • Charles Fitzsimons and James Fitzsimons were Maureen O'Hara's real life younger brothers. In this film, James was billed as James Lilburn, though he was later better known as James O'Hara. Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields were also brothers in real life, and Francis Ford was John Ford's elder brother. Ken Curtis, later of Gunsmoke fame and newly married to John Ford's daughter Barbara, has a small role as Fahy, the village accordion player.
  • Wayne brought his four children along on location, and Ford gave them parts in the important race scene in the film:
    • Michael Wayne, 18, as teenage boy at races
    • Mary Antonia "Toni" Wayne, 16, as teenage girl at races
    • Patrick Wayne, 13, as teenage boy at races
    • Melinda Wayne, 12, as young girl at races

Production[edit]

The film was something of a departure for Wayne and Ford, who were both known mostly for Westerns and other action-oriented films. It was also a departure for Republic Pictures, which backed Ford in what was considered a risky venture at the time. It was only time the studio, known for low budget B-movies, released a film receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Ford read the story in 1933 and soon purchased the rights to it for $10.[citation needed] Republic Pictures agreed to finance the film with O'Hara and Wayne starring and Ford directing, but only if all three agreed to first film a Western with Republic. They did and after completing Rio Grande they headed for Ireland to start shooting.

One of the conditions that Republic placed on Ford was that the film run under two hours. However, the finished picture was two hours and nine minutes. When screening the film for Republic executives, Ford stopped the film at approximately two hours in, on the verge of the climactic fistfight. Republic executives relented and allowed the film to run its full length. It was one of the few films that Republic filmed in Technicolor; most of the studio's other color films were made in a more economical process known as Trucolor.

The film employed many actors from the Irish theatre, including Barry Fitzgerald's brother, Arthur Shields, as well as extras from the Irish countryside, and it is one of the few Hollywood movies in which the Irish language can be heard.

Filming commenced on June 7, 1951. All of the outdoor scenes were shot on location in Ireland in County Mayo and County Galway. The inside scenes were filmed toward the end of July at the Republic Studios in Hollywood.

The story is set in the fictitious community of Inisfree. This is not the same as the Lake Isle of Innisfree, a place in Lough Gill on the Sligo-Leitrim border made famous by poet William Butler Yeats, which is a tiny island. Many scenes for the film were actually shot in and around the village of Cong, County Mayo, on the grounds of Cong's Ashford Castle. Cong is now a wealthy small town and the castle a 5-star luxury hotel. The connections with the film have led to the area becoming a tourist attraction. In 2008, a pub opened in the building used as the pub in the film (it had actually been a shop at the time when the movie was shot); the pub hosts daily re-runs of the film on DVD.[3] The Quiet Man Fan Club holds its annual general meeting in Ashford Castle. Other locations in the film include Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway, home of poet W.B. Yeats for a period, Ballyglunin railway station near Tuam Co. Galway, which was filmed as Castletown station, and various places in Connemara Co. Galway and Co. Mayo. Among those are Lettergesh beach, where the horse race scene was filmed,[4] the Quiet Man Bridge, signposted off the N59 road between Maam Cross and Oughterard[5] and the "White O'Morn" cottage. The latter is located on R336 south of Maam, but has long ago fallen into ruin.[6]

The film also presents Ford's depiction of an idealized Irish society, with no social divisions based on class or religion. The Catholic priest, Father Lonergan and the Protestant Rev. Playfair maintain a strong friendly relationship throughout the film – which represented the norm in what was then the Irish Free State. (Religious tensions occurred in the 1930s, but were the norm only in Northern Ireland). The only allusions to Anglo-Irish animosity occur after the happy couple is married and a congratulatory toast expresses the wish that they live in "freedom", and before the final donnybrook when Thornton demands his wife's dowry from Danaher. Danaher asks Hugh Forbes, who had been commander of the local Irish Republican Army unit during the fight to expel the British, if the IRA was in on this; to which Forbes replied, "If it were, not a scorched stone of your fine house would be standing."

Music[edit]

Ford chose his friend, Hollywood composer Victor Young, to compose the score for the film. Young sprinkled the soundtrack with many Irish airs such as the "Rakes of Mallow" and "The Wild Colonial Boy." One piece of music, chosen by Ford himself, is most prominent: the melody the "Isle of Innisfree," written not by Young, but by the Irish policeman/songwriter Richard Farrelly. The melody of the "Isle of Innisfree," which is first heard over the opening credit sequence with Ashford Castle in the background, becomes the principal musical theme of The Quiet Man. The melody is reprised at least eleven times throughout the film.

The upbeat melody comically hummed by Michaeleen Oge Flynn and later played on the accordion is the "Rakes of Mallow".

Academy Awards[edit]

Award[7][8] Person
Best Director John Ford
Best Cinematography Winton C. Hoch
Archie Stout
Nominations
Best Picture John Ford
Merian C. Cooper
Best Supporting Actor Victor McLaglen
Best Art Direction Frank Hotaling
John McCarthy Jr.
Charles S. Thompson
Best Sound Daniel J. Bloomberg
(Republic Sound Department)
Best Adapted Screenplay Frank S. Nugent

Public reception[edit]

The film was a financial success, grossing $3.8 million in its first year of release. This was among the top ten grosses of the year.[9] It was the seventh most popular film for British audiences in 1952.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

A kissing scene between Sean and Mary Kate is shown in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) when E.T. watches television. E.T. is interested and moved by the scene; his telepathic contact with Elliot causes the boy to re-enact it while he is at school.

The film inspired Donnybrook!, a 1961 Broadway musical.

Roddy Doyle's 2010 novel The Dead Republic deals tangentially with this film.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. ^ "Library of Congress announces 2013 National Film Registry selections" (Press release). Washington Post. December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Quiet Man fans can sup a stout in the film’s pub," Belfast Telegraph, August 25, 2008.
  4. ^ "Quiet Man Trivia". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  5. ^ "Quiet Man Bridge". Oughterard Tourism. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  6. ^ "Article from The Mirror, January 17, 2005". The Mirror. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  7. ^ "The 25th Academy Awards (1953) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-20. 
  8. ^ "NY Times: The Quiet Man". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  9. ^ Gallagher, Tag John Ford: The Man and his Films (University of California Press 1986) p.499
  10. ^ "COMEDIAN TOPS FILM POLL.". The Sunday Herald (Sydney, NSW : 1949–1953) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 28 December 1952. p. 4. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]