Saturday, March 17, 2018

Movie Review: The Quiet Man (1952)

The Quiet Man (1952) directed by John Ford

Sean Thornton (John Wayne) returns from America to his birthplace, a small town called Innisfree in Ireland. He goes to buy the old homestead (his grandfather had been sent to Australia; his father went to America when he was a wee lad). The land and cottage are owned by the Widow Tillane. She is reluctant to sell until town bully Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) shows up and tries to outbid the American. Slightly annoyed, she agrees to sell to Sean. Meanwhile, Sean has fallen for a beautiful redhead (Maureen O'Hara) who turns out to be Mary Kate Danaher, the sister of Will. She is excited by the prospect of marrying Sean but wants to follow the Irish proprieties--having a matchmaker start the arrangements, getting permission from the family, etc. Will is not at all enthusiastic about the match so plenty of conflict ensues. The local parish priest, the Protestant minister and his wife, and matchmaker Michaleen Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald in a great performance) rally to Sean's cause, especially when he seems less than willing to fight for the love of Mary Kate. Sean suffers from a bit of culture clash and from his own personal demons.

The movie is an amazing love story, steeped in Irish culture and actually filmed in Ireland (a novelty for Hollywood in 1952).  Sean and Mary Kate are very layered characters who have a lot of chemistry. Wayne and O'Hara are great together. The movie well balances the serious and the silly elements of the story. Dramatic moments are tempered with a quintessentially Irish sense of whimsy. The movie is utterly delightful.

Highly recommended.

Also, this movie was the subject of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast #39.

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