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Film: The Quiet Man

"Well, then. Now. I'll begin at the beginning. A fine soft day in the spring, it was, when the train pulled into Castletown, three hours late as usual, and Himself got off. He didn't have the look of an American tourist at all about him. Not a camera on him; what was worse, not even a fishin' rod!"
Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond), The Opening Narration

The Quiet Man is a 1952 American-made film from Republic Pictures, directed by John Ford, and starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, Ward Bond, and Barry Fitzgerald. It is based on a 1933 short story by Maurice Walsh.

A polite, soft-spoken fellow by the name of Sean Thornton, played by John Wayne, makes his way to the small Irish village of Innisfree. He's come back to his ancestral home to purchase his father's house "White O' Morning," but in doing so, he rouses the ire of local squire "Red" Will Danaher (McLaglen), who wanted the property himself. Complicating matters is that on the journey to town, Thornton caught a glimpse of beautiful redhead Mary Kate Danaher (Will's sister), and the two fall in love. Unfortunately, even to say to Mary Kate, "Hi, how are you? Wanna marry me and live happily ever after?" Thornton has to get Will's permission first. And Will will join the Church of Ireland before THAT ever happens. Hilarity Ensues.

No, seriously, it does.

The Quiet Man was well received on its release and has remained one of the more popular romantic comedies in Hollywood history. The film was nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture, winning two for Best Director and Best Color Cinematography.


This film is associated with the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Michaleen Og, who is either drunk or asking for a drink in pretty much every scene.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: On the wedding night, when Mary Kate and Sean Thorton argue over her dowry, it gets to looking like Sean, uh John Wayne, will force himself on Mary Kate. He throws her harshly onto the bed, breaking it, but then storms from the room and leaves her. She breaks down into tears, both over the argument and the lack of ravishing she apparently expected.
  • Author Appeal: Director John Ford was a rock-solid American-Irishman, and it showed in almost every movie he made. This movie is practically his love letter to Ireland.
  • Badass Preacher: The Reverend Mr. Playfair is a former lightweight boxer and still follows the sport avidly.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Mary Kate refuses to consummate her marriage to Sean until he literally drags her off a train and makes her walk five miles home.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Red Will Danaher; with a jaw of granite and a wicked right punch, and loudly proclaiming himself the "Best Man in Innisfree." Subverted with Thornton... excuse me Wayne, who is a Bruiser but prefers to be a quiet man.
  • Casualty in the Ring: Sean Thort... John Wayne killed a fellow boxer in a match, hence the reason he refuses to fight Danaher until the final reel.
  • Caught in the Rain: Sean and Mary Kate are caught in Irish ruins by a storm, and have their first close hug.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Will kicks Sean in the face right after agreeing to fight by Marquess of Queensbury rules.
  • Confessional: Played with in the movie. Mary Kate goes to see Father Lonergan not in the confessional booth but in a nearby river where the priest enjoys his fishing. Sean T... John Wayne at the same time pays a visit on the Protestant minister Playfair who happens to be the only one in town who knows Wayne's troubled past, to confess to him about the troubles in his marriage and what he should do.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: This is how the final fight plays out in the short story, as opposed to the long, drawn-out affair in the movie. The drama is in Sean making up his mind to fight Will. Once he does, Will doesn't stand a chance against a professional boxer.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The reason Thorn... Wayne has returned to his family's cottage in Innisfree is because he accidentally killed a fighter in a boxing match. His guilt over that death is what stops him from fighting Danaher throughout most of the movie, and his revulsion that he had killed for prize money is why he refuses to win Mary Kate's dowry from her mean-spirited brother. He gets over it.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Sean Thornton (I know, I know, JOHN WAYNE) wins over his brother-in-law, Will Danaher, by means of their fight. (Wayne definitely wins, as the Bishop loses his bet.) The fight also made the Widow Tillane admit her feelings for Will; now that he's been humbled, he is able to properly court her.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: A lot of people smoke pipes in this movie, but the leaders of the town - Michaleen Flynn, Father Lonergan, and Rev. Playfair - stand out.
  • Ear Trumpet: One of the old men of the town uses one.
  • Fiery Redhead: Mentioned in-movie: "Oh, that red hair of hers is no lie!"
  • Fighting Irish: Thornton and Danaher's fight is both inevitable and highly anticipated by the rest of the town, who all want to join in once it starts.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Sean breaks the bed when he throws Mary Kate on it, but when Michael sees it the next morning, he presumes they shattered it with vigorous sex. ("Impetuous. Homeric!")
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: The climax of the film has this.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: Happens when Thornton is leaving the Danaher home after Will decides to be an ass and not consent to the wedding.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: But who didn't want Maureen O'Hara?
  • Irish Priest: Father Lonergan.
  • Leprechaun: Michaleen Og Flynn. Not really, it's just part of the fun.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: when Danaher and Wayne start their epic donnybrook, a slew of others join in, prompting Og Flynn to fire off warning shots and lay down the ground rules to the fight. They quickly settle on fighting by the Marquis of Queensbury rules, and then Danaher promptly kicks Wayne in the face.
  • Logic Bomb: "He'll regret that to his dying day, if ever he lives that long!"
  • The Matchmaker: Michaleen Og Flynn, who does it for all the courting couples in the town—apparently he's called a "shaughraun". "No patty fingers if you please."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: John Wayne's expression during his flashback to the boxing match when he accidentally killed his opponent. The anguished expression he shows — countered by his crew, who just stand and stare — is heartbreaking.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: During the fight, Thornton and Danaher end up in a bar where they stop to have a shot of whiskey and each politely offers to pick up the tab. This soon turns into an argument and they end up fighting again.
  • Narrator: Father Lonergan.
  • Oireland: Every Irish stereotype you can think of is in this film. The love of drinking. The love of fighting. Members of the IRA sitting in the pub plotting their next mischief (relax, they're planning their next pub visit, not any bombing). Belief in both the Church and tales of druids and the Fair Folk. Matchmaking and marriage customs that Americans can't make heads or tails of. Yup, every stereotype an American can think of is in this film: and it is awesome.
    • If not the first Hollywood film to shoot on location in Ireland, it's certainly the first to take advantage of color cinematography to capture on film incredibly vivid landscapes of the Irish countryside. See Scenery Porn, below.
    • The confessional scene between Mary Kate and Father Lonergan was partially done in the Gaelic language, one of the few Hollywood movies to use the native Irish dialect.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Sean in the book. In the movie he's... well, John Wayne.
  • Romantic Rain: When Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher finally (mutually) decide to accelerate the socially prescribed and glacially slow courtship routine in turn-of-the-century Ireland, they seize their chance to be alone together and escape from their matchmaker-cum-chaperon Michaeleen Og Flynn on a tandem bicycle. They are overtaken by a torrential downpour and take refuge in the ruins of an old stone church, where both of them get soaked and have their first dramatic kiss (whereupon it immediately thunders, a metaphorical indication of "you shouldn't be doing that").
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: during the big fight scene, the bartender, Thornton and Danaher verbally fight over who's buying the drinks.
  • Scenery Porn: cinematographers Winton Hoch and Archie Stout won the Best Color Cinematography Academy Award for this film. The on-location shots were so beautifully done that when one views certain scenes which were clearly filmed on soundstages, the switch is jarring.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Much of the problems between Mary Kate and Sean stem from him not wanting to fight her brother to get her rightful dowry. He doesn't understand why she's obsessing about the money, and she doesn't understand why he won't fight for her legacy. In the end, Sean does demand the money, and when Danaher finally hands it over, he and Mary Kate promptly toss it into a furnace, starting the fight. Ultimately, it was more about Mary Kate's husband standing up for her and her honor than having the money.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: The less common male example happens when John Wayne is wearing a silk shirt in the rain.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Possibly the Trope Codifier.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: More like Kiss Slap Kiss. When Thornton (I mean Wayne) spends his first night in his family cottage he discovers Mary Kate there trying to tidy up the place. He grabs her while she tries to flee and kisses her passionately. She resists a bit, but warms to the embrace, but when they part, she ups and tries to slap him across the face, chewing him out for being too bold. After a brief discussion about what each other might want in a relationship, Mary Kate slips halfway out the door before turning back and giving Wayne a kiss to show she didn't mind their first one.
  • Teeth Flying: Will Danaher does this.
  • The Troubles: Hand-waved. There are a pair of IRA activists in Innisfree, but they mostly hang out at the pub discussing what to drink next. Subverted at the end when the mostly Catholic community of Innisfree pretend to be Protestant so that the Playfairs can stay.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: It's supposed to be a fair fight by the Marquis of Queensbury rules, but Will Danaher has no problem using kicks and sucker-punches.
  • The Vicar: Rev. Playfair.

PsychoDanny Peary Cult Movies ListRide The High Country
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The Prisoner of ZendaFilms of the 1950sRoad to ...
GildaNational Film RegistryForbidden Planet

alternative title(s): The Quiet Man
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