Due to the huge success of the ‘Tis the Season series (I believe I raked in a whopping two comments), I have decided to continue my holiday-themed film suggestions, boldly combining classic movies with appropriate accompanying refreshments. With St. Patrick’s Day fast approaching, I humbly suggest John Ford’s 1952 film The Quiet Man.
Made by the director best known for his classic Westerns, including The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Rio Grande, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Fort Apache, My Darling Clementine, and Stagecoach, The Quiet Man is aptly named, taking a somewhat quieter tone as it returns to Ford’s of Ireland. Ford replaces his usual iconic cinematography of Monument Valley and the American West, with the equally breathtaking and beautiful green fields, soft mist, and rocky landscape of his own ancestral homeland. When I visited Ireland I admit that the pubs of the little towns I visited did not break out the the accordion and burst into song as happened so many times at Pats in the film (perhaps it was simply an off Tuesday night), but I am happy to report that the cinematography tells no lies and makes no exaggerations. The Quiet Man is a beautiful film shot in a beautiful country.
Chronicling an Irish-born boxer’s return to his home country after a stint working and fighting in America, The Quiet Man is a love story, albeit one riddled with drinking, fishing, horse racing, brawling and a good measure of humor, mostly provided by Barry Fitzgerald as the local matchmaker/overindulger Michaleen Oge Flynn, and Ward Bond as Father Lonergan. Starring in this film are other members of Ford’s “Stock Company” (the informal name given to those actors who often worked with the famous director), including John Wayne as the homecoming boxer with a dark past, Sean Thornton. Also a member of Ford’s usual cast is the blustering and excellent Victor McLaglan as antagonist Squire Red Will Danaher. Maureen O’Hara stars as Mary Kate Danaher, Sean’s love interest and Squire Danaher’s sister (you can see how that sets up nicely for a fight…).
This is one of the movies that I have watched probably dozens of times and know all of the lines. And I admit that my relationship with it has evolved over the years. Whereas it used to be for me a completely fun movie, I am now sometimes bothered by aspects of Sean and Mary Kate’s relationship and the stereotypical image of Irishmen as brawling drinkers. But with St. Pat’s upon us, that is neither here nor there, and you and your correspondent can analyze later should you feel so inclined in the post-Guinness recovery hours of March 18th. Or perhaps 19th.
In the meantime, back to things far more important than this writer’s own few and far between misgivings:
Lines You Must Hear
- “Is that a bed, or a parade ground? A man’d have to be a sprinter to catch his wife in that…”
- “That red hair of hers is no lie.”
- (drunkenly) “I have come…” “I can see that. But from whose pub?” “P-p-pub… You’ve a tongue like an adder.”
- “You’ve a fine steady hand.”
- “When I drink water, I drink water, when I drink whiskey, I drink whiskey.”
- “That’s me there. That tall, saintly-looking man.”
- “Here’s a stick to beat the lovely lady.” “Thanks.”
- “Get up, little man.”
- “I’ll put you down in my book.”
Most of these appear and are applied & modified in daily Quinn family speech. In my opinion a movie quote’s magic and power extend exponentially when they breech the boundaries of film and reality.
Scenes You Must See
Mary Kate has snuck into Sean’s newly purchased cottage to tidy up and attempts to run out of the door after being discovered there. The door bangs open as she flees but Sean grabs her arm and pulls her back into the room, where they stand at arm’s length looking at each other, caught in the wind and the moment before that inevitable kiss. Classic. So is that slap that follows and then the softening goodnight exchanges.
Here is the link to watch The Quiet Man on YouTube