A Ford/Wayne collaboration that wasn’t a Western?
A retired American boxer (John Wayne) returns to the village of his birth in Ireland, where he finds love in the form of a fiery redhead (Maureen O’Hara).
Easy going, comical, perfect Sunday viewing. Is this really from the man who gave us The Searchers?
“This is Ireland, Sean”.
Once I got over the fact that this wasn’t a Western, I was happy to bask in the charming silliness and Winston C. Hoch’s lavish (Oscar winning) cinematography.
The fantastic tracking shots complimenting the picturesque and idyllic Irish countryside.
The use of bright colours really livened the piece. Even in the dimly lit church sequences, you could notice a considerable difference. Adding to the easygoing feel.
It was fun to see The Duke lighten up. Delivering another charismatic performance as he dealt with the eclectic and nosy Irish community. A running gag about the latest fad, “a sleeping bag” delivered the laughs.
The corny exchanges and Victor Young’s cheesy score should have been laughable BUT thankfully it only added to its charm. I mean, give it a break. The film is (at time of writing) 66 years old?! BUT unfortunately NOT all classics can age as gracefully.
Maureen O’Hara (Another Ford stalwart) was brilliant as the fiery but head strong Mary Kate Danaher. A real match for the stubborn boxer. And what a voice as well! Singing several songs throughout the film.
Their inevitable romance was engaging enough. Thanks to fantastic chemistry and an underrated supporting cast as the pair toyed the “Will-they’won’t-they?” spiel.
The courtship sequence was highly entertaining. Especially when they had Barry Fitzgerald’s drunken Michaleen Oge Flynn as chaperone. Hilarious. With a horse in tow that conveniently always seemed to lead him back to the pub no matter where he went.
Despite its corniness and charm, the Ford Western tropes were still very much there; the saloon brawl, the love interest, the bitter feuds, the reluctant call to heroism, the Duke on horseback.
And Ford wasn’t afraid to break the rose tinted atmosphere. Unleashing an unexpected flashback to Wayne’s boxing days (executed in a haunting black and white sequence). Dark and almost out of place. The real reason for his return?
I never realised The Quiet Man featured this infamous kiss scene.
A scene that inspired another iconic film . . .
Nerd! I hear you say. BUT nothing like a good meta textual reference to tick the boxes.
The humour was well written. Even if it might have stretched the stereotypes a tad. Most notably on the gambling priest. The opening sequence said it all as a pair of train conductors broke out into fisticuffs after Sean (Wayne) simply asked for directions. Setting the tone, the characters and the fun that lay in store.
BUT of course, it wasn’t going to be that easy as Mary Kate raised the bar every time Sean met her demands and members of the community threw spanners in the works by refusing to sell his childhood home.
However, the themes on community and, most importantly, honour were handled well as Sean had to restore Mary Kate’s reputation and receive her arrogant brother’s blessing.
Leading to one of the longest and most comical fist fights I’ve seen. Seriously, it was like something out of a cartoon with every villager involved at one point!
It may be a little dated and the pace does test in places (Ford spending a little too much time on those beautiful landscapes) BUT it still holds and makes for enjoyable Sunday viewing.