Reviews of The Quiet Man
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The Quiet Man (1952) is the greatest film John Wayne ever made. This is neither conjecture nor is it mere opinion. It is fact.
Working with his close friend, the great director John Ford, The Duke turned in his finest performance as retired boxer Sean Thornton. Haunted by his past (he accidentally killed a man in the ring), Thornton retreats from America to his native Ireland and a quest for a quiet life in his hometown, the village of Innisfree. There, he finds a captivating crowd of eccentrics and happy Irishmen with a powerful thirst for porter and stout, telling tall tales, and living a simple existence off the land.
But Thornton’s dreams of a peaceful life unravel when he spies fiery redhead Mary Kate Danaher (the stunning Maureen O’Hara), who ignites a flame in his heart. Mary Kate is a pistol of a gal who cannot be tamed by just any man. And Sean, ever determined, cannot understand why he can’t simply take this spitfire on a date. Ah, but the proprieties must be observed at all times (this is the early 1900s after all), so the couple must be chaperoned by the town matchmaker, wee Michaleen Flynn (that great character actor Barry Fitzgerald, with Wayne, below right; whose thespian brilliance makes me think of a leprechaun come to life).
Complications rain on Innisfree when Mary Kate’s oafish brother, “Red” Will Danaher, who is the local bully and wealthiest man in town, resolves to block the courtship between his sister and Sean simply because he doesn’t like the Yank (but mainly because Sean refuses to be bullied and that galls Danaher). The tremendous Victor McLaglen plays Will Danaher to perfection with a semi-bright bluster and swagger that creates a living, breathing, utterly believable character. Will refuses to give his sister her dowry after he is tricked by some of the villagers and Parish Priest Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond) into courting the widow Tillane. It was all a set-up to secure Will’s permission for Sean to court Mary Kate. In the Thornton household, Mary Kate refuses to sleep with her new husband until Sean takes the dowry from her brother. Unschooled in Irish ways, Sean cannot understand why Mary Kate rebuffs him. The money means nothing to the Yank, who finds himself in a bind because he has vowed never to fight again – and his brother-in-law can hardly wait to throw a punch.
Tensions and resentment fester until the greatest fistfight in the history of cinema erupts with a donnybrook of Homeric proportions.
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