Blu-ray review: The Quiet Man

Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Victor McLaglen

quiet-man 1This bucolic tale has always been a popular favourite among John Ford’s movies, although less kindly regarded by the critics. John Wayne plays a “Yankee from Pittsburgh” who has come back to buy the cottage where he was born and set down roots. He quickly falls in love with and wants to marry a local girl (Maureen O’Hara), but her hulking, quarrelsome brother (Victor McLaglen) is a serious impediment to the nuptials.

Not for the first or last time in his career, Ford balances lyricism and sentimentality with rough knockabout comedy and generates a warm family feeling with his cast of regular supporting actors – burly Ward Bond as the fish-fancying parish priest, Barry Fitzgerald as the village’s drunken match-maker. Voices get raised and fists get clenched, but a singalong is never far away. The special added ingredient is Winton C. Hoch’s glorious Technicolor location cinematography, thanks to which the Emerald Isle has never looked more gem-like.

Granted, if you’re not in the mood, Ford’s mixture of humour and misty-eyed idealism can seem ponderous and cloying, but even so there’s an infectious charm and innocence to the film’s major set-pieces, such as the race meet on the sea shore, which can’t help but tug on the heartstrings. 7/10

The occasional process shots and a few of the interiors retain some graininess, but the quiet-man 2scenes filmed on location are extremely sharp and lush. During that first sight of Maureen O’Hara, the scarlet of her skirt really pops, and the subsequent waist-up shot of the actress looks very real and present. Throughout, that particularly Irish palette of plump greens and soft, slatey greys is delicious to behold. 8/10

Interesting 17-min piece discussing Ford’s attitude to the Irish, his simplified, fairy tale imagery and his depiction of real life as a form of theatre. ~ An old and slightly schalmtzy but very thorough 27-min “making of”, with contributions from Wayne’s family and a clip of the director and the Duke reminiscing in a ’50s TV show. 7/10