Irish Film Studies: The Quiet Man

This semester, I’m attending a course on Irish cinema. Each week, we are expected to write a blog-like journal about the film we watched in class and/or our class discussion about the film. I’ve decided to include those entries to my blog, so it would be more agreeable to read than a Word document. This was my journal entry on The Quiet Man (week 4).

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Just like Odd Man Out, John Ford’s The Quiet Man was one of those films I wanted to see for a long time. It didn’t become my favourite John Ford’s film (that would The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), but it remains a great one and a relevant one for an Irish Film Studies class. The film was presented to us as a western, but despite our class discussions on its western iconography, I’m still not completely convinced it’s one. Yes, it takes place in the country, there are horses, John Wayne, etc., but I didn’t quite feel that western touch that we can perfectly see in typical westerns like The Wild Bunch or The Searchers. Of course, this is just my personal opinion.

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The film, however, was a way for us to make a travel to Ireland and observes those majestic green landscapes that are nicely reflected in Maureen O’Hara’s eyes. The cinematography of this film is simply majestic and the film won an Oscar for it. It seems to give us an accurate portrayal of the Irish countryside and Irish peasants. Despite being an American production, we can perfectly feel the Irish spirit in this film, and this one is not only embodied by the colourful landscapes and the characters, but by the movie team as well. First, director John Ford was born in a family of Irish immigrated, so he knew how to represent his native country on screen. John Wayne was known as a very American icon, but also had Irish blood and couldn’t be better cast as the American citizen who is back to his Irish hometown. Maureen O’Hara was an Irish actress, and, as for Barry Fitzgerald, he might be the most Irish person of the lot, and this is particularly felt in his voice. Interestingly enough, The Quiet Man is also one of the few Hollywood films where the Gaelic language is spoken, which is obviously a typical characteristic of Irish traditional culture.

The Quiet Man is a great representation of John Ford’s filmography: the type of location, the values that are presented, and Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne who were often cast together in John Ford’s films.

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Another John Ford’s film that takes place, not in Ireland, but not very far is How Green Was My Valley. The Oscar-winning picture takes place in the South Wales Valleys. We can feel a similar spirit to the one presented in The Quiet Man, a spirit of community and traditionalism. Although the film was shot in black and white and it is hard to say how green the valley is, the cinematography impresses in its own way just like it is the case for The Quiet Man.

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Words: 452

Photos sources

Everett, ” The Quiet Man, John Waye, 1952.” Film Art America, n.d, https://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-the-quiet-man-john-wayne-1952-everett.html.

“#ManCrushMonday St. Patrick’s Day Special: John Wayne in “The Quiet Man” (1952).” Popcorn and Red Wine, n.d, http://popcorn-and-red-wine.blogspot.ca/2016/03/mancrushmonday-st-patricks-day-special.html.

“Maureen O’Hara Most Notable Quotes Showcase the Actress’ Unending Wisdom.” Bustle, Oct. 24, 2015, https://www.bustle.com/articles/119212-maureen-oharas-most-notable-quotes-showcase-the-actress-unending-wisdom.

“The Quiet Man (1952).” AMC Film Site, n.d, http://www.filmsite.org/quie.html.

“The Quiet Man- Battling for Respect.” Screen Fish, Oct. 27, 2016, http://screenfish.net/the-quiet-man-battling-for-respect-tbt/.

” 1941, How Green Was My Valley.” The Red List, n.d, http://theredlist.com/wiki-2-20-777-786-view-1940-1950-profile-1941-bhow-green-was-my-valley-b.html.

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6 thoughts on “Irish Film Studies: The Quiet Man

  1. This is a fine article about an excellent Code film from 1952. I was fascinated by the multiple Irish artists in the film who provided authenticity. There is one Irishman, however, who is never given credit for his input in this film or any other. I mean Joseph I. Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration from 1934 to 1954 who carefully protected the country’s morals and the industry’s finances by ensuring that all films were proper for everyone. I know that many people now remember him as little more than the public enemy of free speech and the tyrant of the film industry, but I have found through my studies that he was a fine, upstanding man who helped Hollywood to make its greatest films by protecting it from itself. Code films display drama, entertainment, and serious subjects without the dirt, grime, and embarrassing elements which are found during every other time. Please look at my column at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com to learn more about the Code, Mr. Breen, and the PCA. Also, please look at my article about one of the greatest Irish actors, James Cagney: https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/james-cagney-hollywoods-favorite-irish-gangster/ Please show your support for pure entertainment in America by following and liking my column. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for liking my comment. You might be surprised, but I too like pre-Code films. I enjoy them for their historical significance, interesting plots, age, and excellent acting. I frequently prefer pre-Code films to films made between 1954 and 1968, when Geoffrey Shurlock was failing to enforce the Code effectively. I think it is positively depressing to see the Code falling apart before one’s very eyes during these years. On the other hand, the Code was only an idea between 1930 and 1934. There is a feeling of glamour, progress, and the definite need for change before things get too far out of hand.

        Liked by 1 person

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