There’s a somewhat amusing story behind the making of The Quiet Man, John Ford’s love letter to the land of Ireland. Originally, no studio would back the picture, and Ford, along with the actors John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, who were already committed to the project, was forced to go to second-tier studios in order to find backing for the film. They finally found it at Republic Pictures, an until-then maker of low budget B-films, but only under a caveat. See, even Republic Pictures was convinced the film would never be a money-maker, so in order to give Ford and the cast the funds to do the film, they required the group to first make them a western, a popular genre at the time, through which the expected box office would be enough to fund both that film and The Quiet Man, in particular to recoup any losses expected from the latter film. Ford and the cast agreed, and the film they made, Rio Grande, also ended up making the list, as well as being a profitable picture. But it was The Quiet Man that would end up being the bigger blockbuster, and would also be up for Best Picture, the only such Academy Award nomination Republic Pictures would ever garner. Funny how things work, huh?
The first thing I noticed about the film was the absolutely lush and gorgeous landscapes. This film, and its filmmakers, have a sincere love of Ireland, and they are eager to capture every bit of it on camera. I suspect is this beautiful quality of the landscape that helped the film to win the Oscar for Best Cinematography, and at least for me, it was a win well deserved. John Wayne delivers a typical John Wayne performance here, which was made all the weirder because this wasn’t one of the many westerns Wayne is almost exclusively known for. The rest of the cast was enjoyable enough as well, though there was a little bit of overacting on the part of the antagonist Danagher. Another thing was the Irish accents of the cast; maybe my expectations were a little stereotypical, but there didn’t seem to be very many Irish accents at all among the main players, and what was there was very reserved and barely noticeable. There was dialect, which I attribute entirely to the script, but the accents were rather lacking. It ruffled my feathers a little bit, but it was ultimately forgivable, given that this was technically a Hollywood production, but still; they could’ve at least gotten the details as right as they could, especially since they went all the way to Ireland to film the picture in the first place. Last to note is the climactic fight scene between Wayne and Victor McLaglen (who plays Danagher), which usually takes up much of the breath when people speak about this film. It’s comic and bombastic in many ways, and part of the reason it is brought up so frequently in regards to the film is because it lasts so long, and the whole second half of the film is essentially a lead-up to it. To that end, I don’t think it pays off as well as the film thinks it does, but it was entertaining in a “facepalm” sort of way.
The film has a mix of comedy and drama as well as a heavy dose of romance, but for what it was worth, to me, the comedy wasn’t all that laughable (rather, a faint amusement), and the drama wasn’t all that suspenseful. That left the romance; I’m rarely one to be that affected by romance in movies, and this was just so melodramatic at times that I couldn’t help but shake my head at it, but I can see how others can easily get what they’re after with this one. Luckily, the cinematography more than made up for any deficits that threatened to make me want to stop the film and pick it up some other time; it really is that gorgeous to watch. I don’t know if that alone means it should’ve made the list, but I was able to get through the film largely thanks to it, and I don’t see how anyone else will have a problem doing the same.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10