The Quiet Man (1953)

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Continuing on with John Wayne non-typecast roles, tonight I am watching The Quiet Man.  In this film, Wayne plays Sean Thornton, a retired boxer who returns home to Innisfree, Ireland.  He’s retired because he accidentally killed a man in the ring.

This film was the second of five movies John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara did together.  Their first was Rio Grande, another John Ford film.  Ford shopped the film around and eventually was put out by Republic Pictures on the condition that Ford do a western first, which was Rio Grande.

Two things that stuck out from very early in the movie are that this seems like it would be fun and it would be scenic.  I have never been to Ireland, but in Thornton’s trip out to his home city, the countryside looked beautiful.  Seeing as this movie won the Academy Award for Cinematography, this makes sense.  Also, his exchange with the driver was light-hearted and fun.  The commotion at the train station as he gets off also offers some comic relief.

Tension is established very early in the film between Thornton and Will Danabar as Thornton buys the cottage he grew up in, though Danabar wants to lay claim to it.  This, of course, doesn’t help Thornton when he falls for Mary Kate, Will’s sister.  Will challenges Sean to fight, but Sean is reluctant and Mary Kate interprets that as weakness, when in fact there is something far greater at work.

John Wayne does a great job playing the conflicted and misunderstood person. He and Mary Kate end up getting married, but the custom in Ireland is for a wife to bring in her dowry, otherwise the marriage is not official.

Once he and Mary Kate get married, it becomes clear that she will not get her dowry, something that she becomes obsessed with acquiring.  I appreciate how Wayne portrays Thornton as he dealt with the very reason he returned to Ireland.  His last fight still haunted, and would more than likely haunt him for some time.  It seems something comparable to his acting would be someone coming back from war with PTSD.  He does a good job bringing this to life.  It is not something to be taken lightly.

Moving back more to his traditional role as he drags Mary Kate, attempting to flee, all the way from the train station (5 miles, a nice stretch of the legs), back to Innisfree.  Only when threatening to leave Mary Kate without the dowry, Will reluctantly agrees to give it.  Thornton then fights Will, and aside from a few cheap shots, Thornton lands most of the punches.

The fight continues on and on and becomes the talk of the town.  I found this to be annoying and a little over the top.  Then again it is a couple of Irish men fighting, so I suppose that makes sense.

This was a good combination of fun, romance, and celebrating Ireland.  It was also a good film for John Wayne to act in a different role than he usually did.  However, I felt The Quiet Man dragged at times and spent more time moving the plot along than it needed to.

My rating: 3.5 our of 5 stars.

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