The Quiet Man (1952)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Quiet Man</strong> (1952)

(On TV, March 2018) There’s quite a lot that I don’t particularly enjoy about The Quiet Man, starting with John Wayne and the overly romanticized portrait of the Irish. I should probably add right now that I don’t have anything against Ireland of the Irish diaspora—after all, I’m part Irish myself (much diluted) due to a quirk of French-Canadian history—but I’ve seen enough Irish romanticism in my life to be largely immune to it by now. As for John Wayne, the irony is that I don’t like him but I like many of his movies especially when they feature him as a quasi-villain. Alas, that’s not the case here, as Wayne is out of his traditional element as a disgraced 1920s boxer returning to Ireland to reclaim his family farm. As with most “stranger coming to town” stories, he falls in love (understandably with a character played by Maureen O’Hara), makes a few friends and temporary enemies that he’ll have to deal with before a happy ending comes back. The Quiet Man is in colour largely to showcase Ireland’s Green tone and O’Hara’s fiery-red hair. It ends with a memorable knock-down drag-out fight played for laughs in the middle of the village. Wayne looks a bit lost in trying to act tough in the middle of a comedy, while the film’s blatant idolization of the rural Irish lifestyle will be lost on those who, like myself, can’t see what the fuss is about. As a result, the film is a bit obnoxious at times, and definitely too long otherwise. Director John Ford knows what he’s doing, so I suspect that this is as clear a case of “this film is not for me” as it’s possible to get. The Quiet Man is a fine film, but it just didn’t resonate. At all.

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