THE QUIET MAN. 1952. DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD. STARRING JOHN WAYNE AND MAUREEN O’HARA. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is a charming little romantic comedy-drama which turns up on Irish television every Saint Patrick’s Day without fail because it was filmed in the West Of Ireland and stars two of the biggest names in Hollywood history, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.
John Wayne, better known for his Westerns (director John Ford, ditto) plays Sean Thornton, a retired boxer from Pittsburgh who returns home to his native Inisfree in 1920’s Ireland to buy the cottage in which he was born.
Before he’s even bought the cottage, he falls in love with local ‘spinster’ Mary Kate Danaher, whom he sees herding sheep in the fields in her bare feet with the sun blazing down on her long, luxuriant, red Irish tresses. How completely and utterly romantic…!
When they eventually meet, it’s clear that Mary Kate has a soft spot for Sean too. There’s an obstacle, though, in the form of local landowner Squire Will Danaher, Mary Kate’s brother, who refuses to give his consent to his sister’s marriage to Thornton because Thornton outbid him for the little cottage which they both wanted.
True love finds a way, however, and when Thornton and Mary Kate find themselves spliced for life, they have other problems to contend with. Mary Kate’s hot temper, for one thing. Well, what did Thornton expect…? She’s a feisty Irish lassie with fiery red hair and a temper to match, for Pete’s sake!
Another problem the newly-weds face is the refusal of the stubborn, pig-headed Will Danaher to hand over his sister’s dowry, for reasons which are explained in the film. To Mary Kate, the dowry represents her identity and her sense of pride in her family history, in her heritage and in herself as a married woman starting out in a new life with her husband. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal to her.
Sean Thornton won’t get a minute’s peace from his wife until he marches up to Will Danaher and demands the dowry, even though such a rash action will certainly result in fisticuffs. Thornton, whose final fight as a boxer resulted in the tragic death of his opponent, fears fisticuffs for that very reason. So he digs his heels in, but the spirited Mary Kate is insistent…
The Irish scenery is breath-takingly beautiful. The scene in which the pair kiss in a graveyard in the middle of a thunderstorm and then cling to each other, soaking wet, is visually stunning. The film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography that year and also Best Director for Ford. Maureen O’Hara is truly beautiful and infinitely watchable and John Wayne is the most alpha of alpha males.
Add to all this the on-screen chemistry between the two leads and a gorgeous musical score from Victor Young and you’ve got yourself a hit. It’s a timeless film that harks back to a long-gone era in Irish history, the good old days of open fires, strictly chaperoned courting, rampant sexism and spousal abuse. Not everything about that era was delightfully rose-tinted and harmless, you know…!
Nonetheless, the film will be on Irish television every Saint Patrick’s Day till there are no more televisions and no more films. Oh, and no more Saint Patrick’s Days. Will I be watching it for as long as it’s on…?
Well, sure, and ’tis a powerful stupid question you’re after askin’ me there, and me with a throat that’s powerful dry with the mighty thirst that’s on me. Ye wouldn’t happen to have a wee drop o’ something in a bottle I could have to wet me whistle, now would ye…?
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: