Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Bogdanovich Challenge: Week Eleven


The Quiet Man, released August 14, 1952.

Directed by John Ford.

Starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald and Ward Bond.

No words, however, can convey the joyous exuberance of THE QUIET MAN, its visual grace, the wonderful love of humanity it projects. Barry Fitzgerald's performance alone as the "matchmaker" carries much of the leprechaun-like magic and poetic mystery Ford brings to the tale. It is, too, a film for the whole family, before ratings were necessary, that is thoroughly clear for adults in its adult meanings, yet innocently enjoyable for children.


Back when I was younger, I used to claim that my favorite John Wayne flick was Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), because Wayne gets shot and killed by a sniper.

Yeah, I was a pretty stupid kid.

Here, as Sean Thornton, recently returned to the small Irish village where he was born, Wayne is totally likable. There's the element of culture shock; he's a fish-out-of-water, unsure how to go about courting the fiery red-head, Mary Kate Danaher (played by Maureen O'Hara), or how to keep her happy when he finally does win her over. But he's an honorable man, refraining from giving in to violence and more concerned with the simpler things in life over material wealth. Of course, he's not above giving his bride a good pat on the bottom, and constantly lighting up cigarettes. Slamming doors and stealing kisses [and tandem bikes] and knowing when he absolutely must stand-up for the people he loves.

The real star here is Ireland itself, though. Most of the outdoor scenes were shot there, and they are gorgeous. The luscious green landscapes are breath-taking; they're worth the price of admission alone.

Like many of the films I've watched so far for the Challenge, this one serves as a proper introduction for yours truly to the works of another prolific director; this time it's John Ford. I had seen bits and pieces of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) years ago, but The Quiet Man marks his first film that I've watched from beginning to end. Odd, though, that I'd start with one of his few collaborations with John Wayne that wasn't a western.

That will soon change, however, when The Bogdanovich Challenge hits Week Twenty-Two.


  1. My dad is a huge John Wayne fan, and it seemed like this movie was on repeat (in the VCR, no less). Still, it's still one of my favorite John Wayne flicks, next to Big Jake and El Dorado. You're right about the scenery as well. Ireland never looked as good as it did in this film.

    Funny, I don't think I ever realized John Ford directed The Quiet Man.

    1. My dad was big into John Wayne, too. I don't remember him ever watching or referencing this one, though, probably because he's always been a western/war film-buff.

  2. My grandfather liked this one along with the Fighting Seebees and The Sons of Katie Elder.