Friday, July 25, 2008

Eye Candy of the Day: The Quiet Man

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara just seconds before one of my all-time favorite screen kisses, in The Quiet Man. Thanks to Doctor Macro for the image.

As one of my late father's favorite films, The Quiet Man is a movie that I have watched at least once a year, possibly more, for the last three decades. I don't need to wait till the traditional St. Patrick's Day trot out the films about Ireland fest, either. July, for example, is as good a time as any other to watch this movie.

For my money this is one of the most staggeringly romantic movies ever made. John Wayne, who was not known for romance had amazing chemistry with his co-star Maureen O'Hara. There is haunting, Bronte-esque quality to the love scenes, as if the atmosphere itself was being effected by the cloud of pheromones swirling around the stars. As a counterweight, the film bristles with fine comic performances from the supporting actors Barry Fitzgerald, and Ward Bond and a whole village full of "Irish" extras. (The movie was filmed in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland, but is mostly acted by Americans and Irish -Americans who were part of Ford's regular company.)

11 comments:

kda0121 said...

My absolute favorite John Wayne movie. For anyone who has ever had doubts that the Duke could act, they need only watch The Quiet Man. He gave other fine performances, notably in Red River and The Searchers, but Quiet Man is a movie that can be watched again and again.

Wayne's rough and tumble macho image didn't pair him well with a lot of leading ladies, but Maureen O'Hara was an exception. When they were on screen together the celluloid virtually catches fire. You can cut the chemistry with a knife as Wayne and O'Hara spar with each other. No, their romance isn't dainty. It's mano y womano and pound for pound, Maureen holds her own.

The Quiet Man contains many complexities, hidden behind a simple plotline. Duke deals with the psychological issues of having killed a man; (How many Wayne films had him remorseful for that?) It's a tale of coming home again to find oneself and in the process lose your heart. It touches on Irish traditions and skirts even briefer the IRA. And of course every Wayne movie has to show a man's worth through lots of drinking and a climatic fight.

Director John Ford poured his heart and soul into this movie and won his fourth Best Director Oscar in the process. This movie is a visually stunning look of what Ireland should be... or anyplace that we want to return to. The Quiet Man is a fantastic piece of film.

Irena said...

I absolutely LOVE "The Quiet Man". In my opinion it is a perfect movie.
I believe "John Wayne could not act"
is the same "common knowledge" nonsense as "John Wayne is an antipode of romance". And though "The Quiet Man" is probably the best example that John Wayne could play romantic scenes as well as knock out his fighting adversaries there are other movies with Wayne which are worth seeing also for their romantic part, like for instance "Rio Bravo"(another absolutely excellent movie in my opinion), "Hondo", "Hatari", "Trouble Along the Way", "Donnovan's Reef", "North to Alaska", "The Sea Chase", "Blood Alley", "The Wake of the Red Witch", ...

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

I have to agree that Maureen O'Hara was the perfect match for John Wayne. And IMO he does his best "acting" around her. The Quiet Man is wonderful, although I don't find myself re-watching it very much. I'm more likely to watch McLintock! with the two of them.
Irena - you mention some great ones (although, personally, I'm never paying much attention to him in Rio Bravo). Hatari! was one of my favorites, too.
And my other favorites are Jet Pilot and The Sons of Katie Elder. And Stagecoach, The Spoilers ... and of course, Without Reservations.

Irena said...

Oh yes, Nancy - "Jet Pilot" is another John Wayne's movie where romance is definitely very notable. The movie itself is such a naive fantasy of the cold war period that it can be considered a fairy tale - you don't expect realistic details and convincing characters of the fairy tale. And it is just as deep and convincing as the Soviet movies of the same period featuring American capitalists. On these grounds I do enjoy "Jet Pilot" a lot and especially it's romantic part.

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

I suppose I should have mentioned the silliness of the Jet Pilot premise and story. Especially since that's part of why I get a kick out of it.
When films are so terribly dated with propaganda they play differently now - and in many cases they're more enjoyable films than I think they may have been originally. They play so much "lighter."
I'm not saying they all do that -- some really lose their intensity and they don't benefit from the lightness. I don't know John Wayne's films well enough to suggest an example -but Destination Tokyo is something off the top of my head that remains historically relevant for its examples of propaganda but needs that explanation for the film to not suffer from the passing of time.

Irena said...

Yes, I see what you mean. A great example of absolutely outrageous and outdated propaganda movie from Wayne's career would be "Big Jim McLain". Now that one is so mad with cold war obsession that it will not become lighter even in thousand years. For that reason it is certainly interesting from historical point of view but neither action nor romance in it are notable.
On the other hand "Blood Alley" can be compared to "Destination Tokyo" - still watchable today in spite of some propaganda elements.

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

Thanks, Irena. (and Jenny!!) it's amusing that these discussions start from "Eye Candy of the Day." :-)

Nancy "Beaky" Bruce said...

And thanks, Karl! I didn't realize that was you! :-)

Jennythenipper said...

Wow! I had some stuff to post yesterday, but I didn't get around to it. You guys have been busy adding content for me.

Thanks Karl, as ever you are the bomb.

I agree with your comment about the Quiet Man having surprising depth. It's been for so long looked at as a total whitewash job on Ireland, as much propaganda as the films you all are talking about in your comments. But if you look carefully it hints at darkness around the edges. Flynn shows a ruined building, that was his family's ancestral home, while they are out on their courtship ride. The menace of the IRA are hinted at when they tell Danaher that if they were involved their wouldn't be a scorched stone of his house standing. And as you said, Thornton is dealing with his own personal demons.

Ford had a fifteen year struggle to make the film, I think that says a lot about the studio's reaction to the subject matter. When he did get to it, he brought that who wonderful troop of actors as well as that eye for landscape which makes almost every frame lovely to look at.

kda0121 said...

It's strange that Ford couldn't get the financing for The Quiet Man, given his impressive track record. He'd already done mood pieces with The Informer and How Green Was My Valley and won Oscars for both. I have a lot of nostalgia for the old studio system, but boy, they could be dense at times.

Jennythenipper said...

It's hard to imagine that this funny, bright popular film was viewed as "too arty" by the studios. Yeah, they could be stoopid.