The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952)
A retired American boxer returns to the village where he was born in Ireland, where he finds love.
The most celebrated director of all time, John Ford, had to find a studio ready to finance the project he cherished the most: The Quiet Man. Having to direct a box office sure shot in 1950, Rio Grande for Republic Pictures, Ford brought his casts of regulars (John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, Francis Ford) in Ireland the land of his ancestors. Shot in a sheer Technicolor giving to O’Hara’s red hairs a beautiful look and letting the wonderful sceneries of Ireland execute its charm on the screen.
Coming from America, Sean Thornton (Wayne) is an ex-Boxer with a secret wants to buy back the house where he was born. It doesn’t take much time for him to fall in love with soon enemy Red Danaher’s(McLaglen) sister Mary Kate (O’Hara), his neighbours. Since, he left America to turn his back on boxing he decided to be a passive man and let the violence away from his life. However, his marriage with Mary Kate will suffer from this way of thinking.
Ford realizes his dream film filled with many personal elements, the tone set between the visual comedy, the melodrama, and the Fordian film isn’t always very clear. Ford is an Irishman and being able to go back his roots in a film like he did with How Green Was My Valley was in some level his way to attain heaven just like Thornton says in the first half of the film. His vision of a small community, Catholicism, fighting Irishmen, drunk men, and many other elements already omnipresent in his films are fully exposed as the epicentre of the movie. And the theme of the man who must understand and pass over his own pride to be able to fully achieve himself just like Wayne’s character in The Searchers is pretty obvious too.
A surprise is the aesthetic flashback of boxing that probably inspired Martin Scorsese for his Raging Bull. Even if there are moments of pure bliss in The Quiet Man, it is an uneven movie that entertains and also still connect with Irish people but that lacks the lustre of the aforementioned The Searchers. A final comment would be to paraphrase Martin Scorsese and Richard Schickel on the fact that there is too much Irishmen drinking and fighting in this film that cannot be considered a comedy or a melodrama completely. Recommended but not a must see even if it a film that has been praised for sixty years.