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The Quiet Man is a Americanmarker romantic drama film directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen and Barry Fitzgerald. It was based on a Saturday Evening Post short story by Maurice Walsh. The film is notable for its lush photography of the Irishmarker countryside and the long, climactic, semi-comic fist fight between Wayne and McLaglen.


Set in 1930s Ireland, Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an Irish-American from Pittsburghmarker, returns to Irelandmarker to reclaim his family's farm in Innisfree. He meets and falls in love with the fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara), the spinster sister of the bullying, loud-mouthed landowner "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). Danaher, angry that Sean outbid him for the Thornton land adjacent to his property, initially refuses to sanction the marriage until several town locals, including the parish priest, conspire to trick him into believing that the wealthy Widow Tillane wants to marry him, but only if Mary Kate is no longer living in the house. After learning the truth on Sean and Mary Kate's wedding day, an enraged Will refuses to give his sister her full dowry.

Sean, unschooled in Irish customs, cares nothing about the dowry, but Mary Kate is obsessed with obtaining it, the dowry representing her independence, identity, and pride. Angered and shamed by Sean's refusal to confront her brother and demand what is legally hers, she brands him a coward, and, despite living together, they are estranged as husband and wife.

Sean is a former boxer in the United Statesmarker, a heavyweight champion known as "Trooper Thorn." After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, Sean hung up his gloves, vowing never to fight again. The truth about Sean, however, is known only to one other person in the village, the Church of Ireland minister Rev. Playfair (Arthur Shields).

Later, in an attempt to force Sean to confront Will Danaher, Mary Kate leaves him and boards a train departing Castletown and headed to Dublinmarker. Infuriated, Sean arrives and drags her off the train, and, followed by the townspeople, forces her to walk the five miles to Innisfree from Castletown to Will Danaher's farm. Sean demands that Will hand over her dowry. Will finally relents and gives him the cash. Mary Kate and Sean throw it into a furnace, showing that Mary Kate never cared about the money, but only that Sean stand up for his wife. Sean and Will slug it out through the village, stop for a drink, brawl again, then become best friends. Sean regains Mary Kate's love and respect. Will Danaher and the Widow Tillane begin courting, and peace is returned to Innisfree.


Cast notes:
  • Charles Fitzsimons and James Fitzsimons were Maureen O'Hara's real life younger brothers. In this film, James was billed as James Lilburn, though he was later better known as James O'Hara. Barry Fitzgerald and Arthur Shields were also brothers in real life, and Francis Ford was John Ford's older brother.


The film was something of a departure for Wayne and Ford, who were both known mostly for Westerns and other action-oriented films. It was also a departure for Republic Pictures, which backed Ford in what was considered a risky venture at the time. It was the first time the studio, known for low budget B-movies, released a film receiving an Oscar nomination, the only Best Picture nomination the studio would ever garner.

Ford read the story in 1933 and soon purchased the rights to it for $10. Republic Pictures agreed to finance the film with O'Hara and Wayne with Ford directing, only if all three agreed to film a western with Republic. All agreed and after filming Rio Grande they headed for Ireland to start shooting.

One of the conditions that Republic Pictures placed on John Ford was that the film came in at under two hours total running time. The finished picture was two hours and fifteen minutes. When screening the film for Republic Studio executives, Ford stopped the film at approximately two hours in: on the verge of the climactic fight between Wayne and McLaglen. Republic executives relented and allowed the film to run its full length. It was one of the few films that Republic filmed in Technicolor; most of the studio's other color films were made in a more economical process known as Trucolor.

The film employed many actors from the Irish theatre, including Barry Fitzgerald's brother, Arthur Shields, as well as extras from the Irish countryside, and it is one of the few Hollywood movies in which the Irish language can be heard.

The story is set in Innisfree, a city in Lough Gillmarker, County Sligomarker. Many scenes for the film were actually shot in and around the village of Cong, County Mayomarker and on the grounds of Cong's Ashford Castlemarker. Cong is now a wealthy small town and the castle a 5-star luxury hotel. The connections with the film have led to the area becoming a tourist attraction. The Quiet Man Fan Club hold their annual general meeting in Ashford Castle each year.

The film also presents John Ford's depiction of an idealized Irish society, with Catholics and Protestants living in harmony, and no social divisions based on class or religion. The Catholic priest Father Lonergan and the Protestant Rev. Playfair maintain a strong friendly relationship throughout the film. The only allusion to Anglo-Irish animosity occurs after the happy couple is married and a congratulatory toast expresses the wish that they live in "freedom."

Academy Awards

Award Person
Best Director John Ford
Best Cinematography Winton C. Hoch

Archie Stout
Best Picture John Ford

Merian C. Cooper
Best Supporting Actor Victor McLaglen
Best Art Direction Frank Hotaling

John McCarthy Jr.

Charles S. Thompson
Best Sound Daniel J. Bloomberg

(Republic Sound Department)
Best Adapted Screenplay Frank S. Nugent

Public reception

The film was a financial success grossing $3.8 million in its first year of release. This was among the top ten grosses of the year. . The film also inspired the 1961 Broadwaymarker musical Donnybrook!.

The famous kissing scene between John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara is shown in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) when E.T. watches television. E.T. is interested and, moved by the scene, his telepathic contact with Elliot causes the boy to re-enact it while he is at school.

See also


  1. Gallagher, Tag John Ford: The Man and his Films (University of California Press 1986) p.499

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