The Quiet Man (1952), starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Victor McLaglen
Synopsis of The Quiet Man
In The Quiet Man, a tired American ex-boxer returns to his native hamlet in Ireland to win the hand of a spirited young woman. He’s confronted by strict local customs and the woman’s belligerent brother. Set in the verdant Irish countryside, this lively film has beautiful scenery, brilliant repartee, and local charm.
Review of The Quiet Man
Up front, I have to say that The Quiet Man is one of my favorite films of all time. In some ways, it’s a love letter to Ireland and the Irish people … But that’s not why I love the film. Above all, at it’s core, it’s the story of people. People that the audience are introduced to, learn to care about, and face conflicts that everyone can understand.
Stranger in a strange land
Stranger in a strange land? That’s John Wayne’s character. He left Ireland as a boy, grew up in the USA. After that, he’s returned home. But he doesn’t understand the Irish traditions, and their hold on the people he cares for.
Torn between love and duty
Torn between love and duty? That’s Maureen O’Hara’s character. She’s in love with John Wayne’s character … But he literally doesn’t understand why her antiques and dowry mean so much to her. And, until the end of the film, she fears she’s fallen in love with a coward. Because he refuses to stand up to her bullying brother. He has the best reason in the world for this … But his pride prevents him from telling her.
Hurt and stubborn
Hurt and stubborn? That’s Victor McLaglen’s character. He acts like he owns the village. However, technically, he owns a large part of it. He’s used to getting his own way. But the woman he loves is equally stubborn, and not going to be pushed around. And when he feels (rightfully) that he’s been deceived by the love birds, he doubles down on his resentment.
All of the acting is top rate, with characters we care about. Some scenes resonate deeply, such as the initial courting, the “official” courting, the newlyweds conflict, and the final fight between the two brothers-in-law. This is the conflict that the movie has been leading up to. In conclusion, it’s frankly the finest that’s ever been filmed. And the conclusion is absolutely lovely.
Cast of characters
- Sean Thornton (John Wayne, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). A young American, returning to his Irish homeland. He’s financially successful, but at a high cost. A secret that only Reverend Playfair knows. Once there, he buys back his old ancestral home. This conflicts with Squire Danaher, who wants the land as well. And he falls in love with Danaher’s sister …
- Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara, Dance, Girl, Dance). The lovely young lady that falls in love with Sean as well. She’s beautiful, strong … and stubborn. In addition, Sean was raised in America, and doesn’t understand her deep attachment to her traditions. She must have her beloved items … and dowry. Which her equally-stubborn brother will not give. And she fears that Sean is a coward, unwilling to fight for her. And she loves him so …
- Michaeleen “Óge” Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald, Bringing Up Baby). Professional matchmaker, bookie, and pub regular.
- Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond, Young Mr. Lincoln, The Maltese Falcon). The Catholic priest, instrumental in getting Squire Danaher to permit Sean and Mary Kate to court, and wed. Although it involves more than a little deceit. In addition, it comes back to hurt them at Sean & Mary Kate’s wedding reception.
- Widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick, The Court Jester). The woman who sells Sean the land that Danaher wants. However, she loves Danaher as well. But knows he needs to be taken down a peg …
- Reverend Cyril Playfair (Arthur Shields, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon). The local Protestant minister. His hobbies is sports, and so he’s the only person in the village who knows the story of “Trooper Thorn” the professional boxer. And why he’s sworn to never fight again …
- Squire “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen, The Princess and the Pirate). Mary Kate’s brother, and Sean’s antagonist. A hulking, bullying brute. But not really a villain. He’s in love with the widow Sarah. In addition, he feels deceived into allowing his sister to marry Sean. Although he wrongfully blames Sean for it.
Editorial review of The Quiet Man courtesy of Amazon.com
Sean Thornton (John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima), an American boxer with a tragic past, returns to the Irish town of his youth. There, he purchases his childhood home and falls in love with the fiery local lass, Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O Hara, Rio Grande). But Kate’s insistence that Sean conduct his courtship in a proper Irish manner with matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way) along for the ride as chaperone is but one obstacle to their future together; the other is her brother, Red Danaher (Victor McLaglen, Rio Grande), who spitefully refuses to give his consent to their marriage, or to honor the tradition of paying a dowry to the husband.
Sean couldn’t care less about dowries or any other tradition that might stand in the way of his happiness. But when Mary Kate accuses him of being a coward, Sean is finally ready to take matters into his own hands. The Quiet Man would go on to win two Academy Awards in 1953, including Best Director (John Ford) and Best Cinematography and received five more nominations including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (McLaglen).