The Quiet Man, 1952

Donnybrook about a retired boxer trying to find peace and quiet in the Irish village of Inisfree

The Quiet Man - Released June 6, 1952 (London) then Sept 14, 1952 (USA). Directed by John Ford

"That red hair's no lie..."

John Ford's The Quiet Man is an ode to Ireland, to arguing (of which there is plenty in this movie), brawling (particularly the 20-minute fist-fight climax), also pubs and girls named Kate.

Features John Wayne (Sean Thornton) and Maureen O'Hara (Mary Kate Danaher) as newlyweds who can't get on with their married life because Victor McLaglen (O'Hara's older brother 'Red Will Danaher' in the story) won't pay the wedding dowry that's owed. Why? Because "Red Will" thinks he got cheated in his pursuit of marrying "the Widow Tillane" (played by Mildred Natwick) and blames it on Sean, who actually knows nothing about the matter - - but the rest of the village of Inisfree does, a place where everything and everybody overlaps in business, politics, religion and personal life.

Wayne's character doesn't care about the dowry money (he is a wealthy retired boxer from America with a troubled, violent past) but Mary Kate can't get the money out of her head and has idealized the dowry as her self-respect and her freedom as a woman, and without it she is at best a house slave, and her new husband a coward. Mayhem (and frequent hilarity) ensues.

About the making of the Quiet Man

Ford worked on The Quiet Man script as his personal pet project for 15 years before it ever got in front of a camera.

It is drawn primarily from the short story The Quiet Man by Maurice Walsh, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post magazine on February 11, 1933 (Walsh later incorporated the short story into the 1935 work The Green Rushes).

Ford bought the film rights to the short story for $10, with a promise of an additional $2,500 if the film project got picked up by a production company. Eventually Republic Pictures paid Walsh $3,500 when the movie production finally got moving in the early 1950s.

Walsh's short story is a darker tale than what Ford finally put onscreen, and apparently Ford's own concept of the tale shifted over the years as he worked out the screenplay to his satisfaction. The title "The Quiet Man" refers to the ambition of the Irishman Shawn Kelvin (in the original short story) returning from American to Ireland with the hope of living out his days on the "quiet hills" around his birthplace.

Maureen O'Hara was Ford's unofficial pre-production assistant on the project until a deal with Republic Pictures was finalized, helping with keeping track of the script and its changes (and especially Ford's changes as the story shaped and reshaped) and she served as Ford's sounding board as he tinkered with the tale in between other movie commitments. Katherine Hepburn also played a significant pre-production behind-the-scenes role in how Ford put the movie together (the female lead was originally named Ellen in the short story, but became "Mary" - the name of Ford's wife - and "Kate" - the name Ford used with Katherine Hepburn, so - 'Mary Kate Danaher').

Wayne, Ford and O'Hara had to pledge to Republic Pictures that they would make a western movie (Rio Grande, 1950) in order for Republic Pictures President Herbert Yates to get behind The Quiet Man.

Both Wayne and O'Hara took pay cuts to help get The Quiet Man budget approved, and the movie is populated with their actual children and siblings in the cast, and John Ford's extended family are also onscreen in many roles.

Yates fought against Ford's project for a long time, expecting tepid box office when it would be released, and badgered the director with memos to make alterations to the project as it progressed (one hilariously recounted in the Joseph McBride book Searching for John Ford is Yates demanding that Ford get his cameraman to 'remove the green lens filters' which no one had actually been using. The scenery in The Quiet Man is uniquely green because it rained so often during the production and because, after all, they were filming on location in Ireland.)

The movie company shouldn't have worried, the film was a top ten box office success in its 1952 release (and won for Ford another Academy Award as Best Director). It has only grown more well-known over the decades, probably eclipsing all other titles known as "John Ford Films" in popularity, which is ironic because during the 14-week shooting schedule, Ford ended up in deep depression thinking he had botched his dream project.

The Quiet Man (60th Anniversary Special Edition) - Amazon

The Quiet Man and Other Stories by Maurice Walsh - Amazon

What's Recent