Director: John Ford
Screenplay: Frank S. Nugent
Based on a Story by: Maurice Walsh
Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Victor McLaglen
Running Time: 129 min
BBFC Certificate: U
John Ford is best known as a director of westerns, but none of the films that picked him up his impressive four best director Oscars are from the genre. Stagecoach got him a nomination, but it was The Informer, The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley and The Quiet Man that snagged him those golden statuettes. I haven’t seen nearly enough Ford films as it is (he’s directed an awful lot of well respected titles), but I’ve been working my way through the classics in my quest to watch more westerns and now find myself venturing into his non-westerns with this Masters of Cinema Blu-Ray release of 1952’s The Quiet Man.
The plot has a little bit of The Taming of the Shrew to it. Sean Thornton (John Wayne) travels from American to rural Ireland, where he was originally born. He’s an ex-boxer (a fact only hinted at in the first half of the film) and is looking to reclaim his family home and settle down. He quickly sets his eye on Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) as a wife to settle down with, only she won’t fall into his arms so easily (which is where The Taming of the Shrew comes into it). She’s strong-willed and stubborn which doesn’t help, but the biggest thing that stands in Sean’s way is her brother and guardian Squire ‘Red’ Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). According to strict Irish tradition, any man wanting to marry or even court Mary Kate must have Red’s permission and unfortunately Sean ruined his chances by buying up land (his aforementioned home) that Red desperately wanted. Thus begins a series of challenges faced by Sean, who refuses to resort to violence to resolve the problem, due to a tragedy in the ring during his old life back in America. This seeming unwillingness to ‘man up’ brings shame on Sean’s name, which further threatens his relationship with Mary Kate.