Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tonight's Movie: The Quiet Man (1952) at USC

THE QUIET MAN is, in a word, perfect.

There really isn't much of a need for further adjectives to describe this masterpiece, although it would be easy to come up with them. For me the film is, quite simply, 129 minutes of bliss.

As many fans of classic films already know, THE QUIET MAN stars John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in a tale about romance, a dowry, and boxing, set in a tiny Irish village. The film won Best Picture, Best Cinematography, and John Ford was awarded his still-record fourth Oscar for Best Direction.

I'd seen THE QUIET MAN countless times before tonight's USC screening -- one of those occasions was particularly memorable, an Academy Award movie marathon at Filmex three decades ago -- and yet I was rather amazed to find myself feeling tonight as though I were seeing the movie for the first time. It was all so familiar, yet I was struck anew by so many things, such as the use of remarkable use of light in the film's outdoor scenes. The very funny bit with the General (Sam Harris) never stirring from reading his paper, even during the fight, was also something that caught my eye for the first time. Maureen O'Hara's nervousness and delight when Fitzgerald comes to tell her that Wayne wishes to court her is charming, as is her lovely singing voice.

I believe one of the things that is the mark of a true classic is its ability to remain fresh and provide the viewer with new things to enjoy on each successive viewing. Indeed, I enjoy the film even more now than I did the very first time I saw it in the '70s.

I found myself tearing up at a couple points in the film, including during the marvelous "curtain call" sequence which concludes the movie, out of sheer joy at the film's artistry and appreciation for the remarkable talents behind it -- so many of them now gone. Maureen O'Hara, bless her, is still with us at age 88.

One of the fun things about the movie is that it was very much a "family" production. Barry Fitzgerald (Michaeleen) and Arthur Shields (The Rev. Mr. Playfair) were real-life brothers. John Ford's brother, Francis, is the elderly man in the film who memorably rises from what appears to be his deathbed in order to see the climactic fight. Ford's son-in-law, Ken Curtis, is the accordion player and singer Dermot Fahy ("no E!"). Maureen O'Hara's brother, Charles FitzSimons, plays Hugh, one of the dark-haired young men who serves as a frequent commentator on the goings-on in Innisfree, while O'Hara's other brother, James Lilburn, plays young Father Paul. Four of John Wayne's children appear in the racing sequence. Ford's son Patrick and Victor McLaglen's son Andrew both worked as second unit directors, while Ford's daughter Barbara served as an assistant editor.

THE QUIET MAN is available on DVD in a beautiful Collector's Edition. Extras include a commentary track by Maureen O'Hara.

It can also be seen on VHS.

You can read more about THE QUIET MAN in THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE QUIET MAN, as well as in Maureen O'Hara's excellent autobiography, 'TIS HERSELF.

The music can be enjoyed on CD, although it should be noted this is a studio recording, not a soundtrack.

If you have not yet caught up with this wonderful movie, you're in for a treat.

Related posts: John Wayne Weekend, Part 2 and HONDO.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

My envy knows no bounds. I would give my right arm and my eye teeth to see this fantastic film on the big screen. You are such a lucky duck. "The Quiet Man" is one of the greatest movies ever and, as I've said before, it is every Irish-American's love letter to the Old Country. Was there ever a better screen couple than Wayne and O'Hara? I think not. This movie is so quotable, too. BTW, I may have said this before, but have you noticed that Wayne spanks a lady in many of his movies? My husband teases me about this. Anyway, glad you had a great time.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

I love this movie. I find myself talking with a little brogue after every viewing LOL

2:40 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

An absolutely lovely film. (I'm surprised to not yet see a Paul Newman tribute column up , yet Laura)!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

I have loved this movie for many a year now. I own the collectors edition DVD and enjoyed Maureen O'Hara's commentary very much. This was one of my mother's favorite movies along with Wayne's "Donovan's Reef". I too would give my eye teeth to see it on the big screen :)

6:37 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"(I'm surprised to not yet see a Paul Newman tribute column up , yet Laura)!"

Haven't been home enough this weekend. :) And truth be told, Newman is not someone I've ever really responded to strongly, though I didn't dislike him. He just didn't dazzle me as he does so many others. Maybe that will change as I see more of his movies in the future. I did find him interesting in UNTIL THEY SAIL.

All that said, I may do a post if time permits in the next couple days...

Thanks much,
Laura

12:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm so glad to learn so many of you are fellow fans of THE QUIET MAN! :)

It's definitely quotable...my husband's favorite line is simply "Bar towel!" which he always anticipates out loud before it's actually said. I heard him whisper it to one of the kids last night, LOL.

Best wishes,
Laura

12:45 AM  

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