Some may not realize that Director John Ford directed over 100 movies in his career. He holds the “record” for Best Director Oscars with 4 (How Green Was My Valley, The Quiet Man, The Grapes of Wrath and The Informer) though most people associate the name with him and long time co-star, John Wayne. What is even more interesting is that Ford was known for his Western’s, but it’s clear to see what the critics liked from him. Ford always used the same slew of actors, ranging from The Searchers or Stagecoach to his non-Western movies. Originally The Quiet Man was a short story published in a magazine, Ford bought the rights to it for $10 and promised to pay the author more should it ever be made into a movie. Though he already had three Academy Awards under his belt at the time he wanted to film The Quiet Man, no studio in town would back him financially, they all thought the movie would fail. Finally, Republic Pictures, which was known for their “B” movies and low-budget Westerns, stepped in and gave him some support. The catch was that he had to make a profitable film before he could work on the movie. So it was Rio Grande with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (the same two starred in The Quiet Man as well) which proved to be a success. The rest, as they say, is history!
In this, we find a much different John Wayne. He’s not the shoot ’em up cowboy that is so acquainted with his image, he plays Sean Thornton. Sean was born in a small Irish village and he has come back to reclaim his homeland. Thornton has spent the majority of his life in America, where he was a boxer. The trouble is that he had killed another boxer in the ring and the guilt overwhelmed him. He has vowed never to fight again. I couldn’t help but think that this was the subject of From Here to Eternity with Montgomery Clift’s character struggling with the same issues. Sean catches the eye of one Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) and falls instantly in love. The trouble is that her meddling, bossy older brother Will (Victor McLaglen) doesn’t want to see her get married. Eventually they do, but Mary Kate wants the relationship to be as equals, hence the struggle of her dowry, which she isn’t allowed to have. Many several “sexual” references are thrown out, but this being the early 50’s, nothing was shown. The challenge for Sean and Mary Kate is for them to have a normal life together. The town seems to be against them and it seems that a simple fist fight will solve all of their problems. But Sean’s vow never to fight again plays with Mary Kate’s feelings and things may or may not work out for them.
The Quiet Man is a flashback to the way Hollywood used to be. When stories were inspired by things that we just don’t see or hear about anymore. When the phrase “They don’t make ’em like they used to.” is uttered, they’re most likely referring to a different breed of actor and movie. John Wayne is synonymous with toughness and Maureen O’Hara is truly the picture of beauty her in her native Ireland. This was one of the first films that was actually shot on location, something that just didn’t happen back them. While the differences in the studio scenes and the Irish is noticeable, it doesn’t detract from the action on screen at all. Wayne and O’Hara were a great couple on screen and if you look close, you might even think that their emotions during some scenes affected the weather (you’ll most likely have to watch it a few times). The Quiet Man ranks up there with my favorite films, and no matter how many times I try and watch The Searchers, I find myself coming back to John Ford/John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in this fine film.
Video: How does it look?
This is one of America’s most popular movies with two of the most recognizable leading actors in John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. The man behind the camera is John Ford. Translation – if you do this, do it right. This marks the 60th anniversary of the film and when it was announced on Blu-ray a transfer already existed that looked good, but had a few faults was already in existence. The transfer for this new edition used a new 4K scan of the original camera negatives and the results is, well, downright amazing. If ever an older movie used color like it’s used in The Quiet Man, the greens look luscious, flesh tones look a bit on the baked side and Maureen O’Hara’s fiery red hair simply lights up the screen. Yes, some faults do persist but for a movie of this age to look this good – seeing is believing.
Audio: How does it sound?
While not quite as impressive as the video for the film, the DTS mono mix sounds very clear and robust. Ward Bond’s powerful narration sound crisp and though it does have a bit of a “dated” feel to it, it is sixty years old. Suffice it to say that your system won’t be tested to its limits, but with a movie like this – it’s not supposed to be. It’s a good effort here and I highly doubt that viewers will be disappointed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
We lose a lot of the supplements found on the previous DVD, but are presented with two of note. We are once again treated to Leonard Maltin’s “The Making of The Quiet Man“, which is a 30 some odd minute look at the film. We also get an illustrated booklet from Joseph McBride’s Searching for John Ford.