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.