The Quiet Man
Adventure / Classics / Drama / Family / Romance
Directed by John Ford
Written by Frank S. Nugent (screenplay), Maurice Walsh and John Ford (uncredited)
Produced by Merian C. Cooper
Cinematography by Winton Hoch and Archie Stout
Distributed by Republic Pictures
John Wayne as Sean Thornton
Maureen O'Hara as Mary Kate Danaher
Barry Fitzgerald as Michaleen Og Flynn
Victor McLaglen as Squire 'Red' Will Danaher
Ward Bond as Father Peter Lonergan
Mildred Natwick as The Widow Sarah Tillane
Francis Ford as Dan Tobin
Arthur Shields as Rev. Cyril Playfair
Eileen Crowe as Mrs. Elizabeth Playfair
Charles Fitzsimons as Hugh Forbes
James Fitzsimons (James Lilburn) (James O'Hara) as Father Paul
Sean McClory as Owen Glynn
Emily Eby as Mave Campbell
Jack MacGowran as Ignatius Feeney
The Quiet Man trailer
Irish American boxer Sean Thornton returns to his birthplace in Innisfree, Ireland after a tragic boxing match where he fatally knocked out his opponent. Sean is seeking a more peaceful life and has vowed to leave his old boxing identity as Trooper Thorn, and fighting, behind him. On his way into town he spies lovely Irish lass Mary Kate Danaher and falls for her. Sean is on his way into town to buy his family’s old cottage, known as “White O'Mornin”, from the wealthy widow Tillane. However, he is met with immediate competition when his meeting with the widow is interrupted by town bully Squire 'Red' Will Danaher, Mary Kate’s brother, because he wants the property for himself. Eventually Tillane agrees to sell the cottage to Sean due to Will’s overbearing demeanor.
When Sean stops by the local pub, his American mannerisms set him apart from the rest of the community, although the local priests, Father Peter Lonergan and Reverend Cyril Playfair, and the matchmaker, Michaleen Flynn, extend a hearty welcome. Playfair is the head of the few local Protestants in the community and can relate to Sean’s feeling of difference from the locals and the two form a friendship. Playfair, who is also a boxing enthusiast, later recognizes Sean as Trooper Thorn, but on Sean’s request, agrees to keep his secret.
Sean returns to White O'Mornin, and he is surprised to find Mary Kate inside. As Mary Kate rushes to leave, Sean grabs her and kisses her. She harbors the same attraction for him, but Irish custom demands a proper, chaperoned courtship. Mary Kate’s brother Will, as the elder male in her family, refuses to give permission for the courtship, as he still harbors a grudge against Sean regarding the White O'Mornin property. As sad as this news is to Sean and Mary Kate, she will not break with tradition, and violate her brother’s wishes to be with Sean.
Later, at the annual horse races, members of the town who want to see Sean and Mary Kate succeed, devise a plot to trick Will into giving his permission for the courtship. Will has long had his eye on the widow Tillane, and several townspeople tell Will that she wants to be with him, but she refuses to share a house with another woman, and thus she is waiting for Mary Kate to be wed and out of the house. Will allows the courtship to proceed and after a greatly shortened courtship, Sean and Mary Kate are married. During the reception at Will’s house, Will shows the guests Mary Kate’s dowry, and drunkenly boasts of his intentions to make Tillane his wife, which is the first she’s heard of it and she leaves insulted. Will realizes he has been duped and takes a swing at Sean, who falls and in a moment of disorientation, relives the tragic fight that caused him to flee America for his homeland. Realizing the situation will escalate if he stays, he takes Mary Kate and leaves the dowry behind, much to Mary Kate’s dismay.
That night, Mary Kate and Sean argue about the dowry, and do not consummate the marriage; instead Sean spends the night in his sleeping bag. The next day some of the townsfolk have convinced Will to give Mary Kate some of her things, but Will has stated that he is keeping the dowry. Mary Kate is very upset with the state of affairs, and more so by her new husband’s reluctance to stand up for her. They both consult with the priests of their respective faiths. Sean is convinced that Mary Kate is only concerned about money, which is one of the traits that led to Sean fighting so much, and to his eventual downfall. However, Playfair reminds Sean that it’s not so much the money, but the tradition, and principle of the situation. Sean realizes that he must face Will to gain the affection of his new bride and resolutely decides to do so.
However, when Sean awakens the next morning, he discovers Mary Kate is gone, and the townsfolk inform him that she has gone to the train station. Sean rushes to the station, followed by curious townsfolk, and carries the protesting Mary Kate off the train and drags her to the Danaher farm, followed by a growing throng of townsfolk. There he confronts Will and demands the dowry. Will surrenders the money, which Sean and Mary Kate happily burn. Mary Kate is now happy with Sean, and goes home to put things in order, leaving Will and Sean to have a knockdown, drag out fight to the delight of the cheering crowd.
Barry Fitzgerald, who plays Michaleen, and Arthur Shields, who portrays the Protestant vicar Playfair, are brothers in real life. They also appeared together along with John Wayne in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home.
During the original screening in Boston, Michaleen Flynn's exclamation upon seeing Sean’s broken bed “Impetuous! Homeric!” was censored out.
After the credits, Mary Kate and Sean are standing in the garden, waving goodbye. Maureen O'Hara turns to John Wayne and whispers something in his ear, bringing a shocked expression to Wayne’s face. What she said was known only to Wayne, O’Hara and Director John Ford. Ford encouraged her to say something that would shock Wayne, and she agreed only on the condition that the line never be disclosed by any of the involved parties. In her memoirs, she states that she refused to say the line at first because she “Couldn’t possibly say that to Duke.” Whatever was said still remains a mystery.
The Quiet Man was the only film made by Republic pictures that got an Academy Award nomination.
The Quiet Man Was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won two. The Quiet Man won Best Director and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
John Ford acquired the rights to Maurice Walsh's short story in 1936, but it took him sixteen years before he could make The Quiet Man a reality.
Jack Murray, the editor for The Quiet Man, states that John Ford was such a master film maker, virtually no editing needed to be done, save for putting the footage together.
John Ford had to fight tooth and nail to make The Quiet Man as many studio execs considered the film “a silly Irish story that won’t make a penny”. Herbert J. Yates at Republic agreed to do it only if Ford, Wayne and O'Hara made him a western first, to make back the money The Quiet Man would lose. As a result the three made the western Rio Grande.
Wayne and Ford played a rather dirty trick on Maureen O'Hara during filming. Before the scene where Sean drags Mary Kate up a hill, face down, on her stomach, Wayne and Ford searched the field for all the sheep ’s dung in the field and kicked it onto the hill. Maureen O'Hara saw them doing this, and she and her friends went out and kicked it off the hill. Wayne and Ford promptly kicked it back on. This went on several times right up until the scene was shot. Ford and Wayne got in the last kick.
Maureen O'Hara did her own singing for The Quiet Man.
Frail old Dan Tobin, who gets up from his deathbed to see the fight, is actually John Ford's older brother Francis Ford.
Movie fans who visit the sites of the film in Cong are affectionately referred to as “Quiet Man Crazies” by the Irish inhabitants.
This is the second of five on-screen pairings of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.
John Wayne’s four children were brought along for the shooting, and Ford gave them all parts in the race scene.
The Quiet Man is one of the few Hollywood productions in which the native Irish language, Gaelic, can be heard.
Irish moviegoers were not impressed with the idyllic setting in The Quiet Man. Many considered the film as racial stereotyping.
The famous kissing scene between John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara plays a part in another hit movie. In E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) E.T. sees the scene and is moved by it, causing Elliot to re-enact it at school.
The Quiet Man was filmed entirely on location in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland in the fictious town of Innisfree.