Today! Because I think your in-laws are coming to pay you visit, Squire darling –
The Quiet Man (1952)
Directed by John Ford (x3)
Starring John Wayne (x3), Maureen O’Hara, Victor McLaglen (x2), Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, Mildred Natwick (x2), Francis Ford (x2), Arthur Shields (x2), James O’Hara, Eileen Crowe, Sean McClory, Jack MacGowran (x2), Ken Curtis
Back in the days of my epic MySpace blog – where all of Parade Day was originally published – I ran a movie ranking not unlike this one, except it was encapsulated in a single post and focused on drinking movies. Parade Day, you may recall, is basically a comedy booze adventure itself, so maybe this was just the weird place I was in circa the early-to-mid ’00s. You see, when you commute to college, you largely miss getting the wild drunken antics out of your system, and so in some cases this chases you into your 30s. Anyway, that movie ranking – which I cannot find at present, with MySpace no doubt holding it hostage somewhere – was topped by that greatest of drinking films, John Ford’s brawling comic romance The Quiet Man, a movie so ingrained as a love letter to alcohol that it also dragged E.T. onto the list, for that one crazy sequence where E.T. and Elliott get hammered while the alien watches John Wayne romance Maureen O’Hara.
Like all the Ford/Wayne films on this list (this being the third and final), my old man is directly responsible for my exposure to this movie. And while the other two – #364 She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and #170 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – are tough guy westerns, why my Italian dad gravitated to this Irish romance I don’t know. Hell, why we lived in North Scranton was always a bit of a mystery to me, as back when I was growing up it was a predominantly Irish neighborhood, with my swarthy ass sticking out like a holy cannoli. But then again, not to keep plugging Parade Day, a book I strongly recommend you don’t buy, it is set during the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day parade, so maybe growing up Scranton Catholic just forces you into Irish culture. It was fine by me, as I have no significant connection to Italian heritage, besides deep abiding love for gangster movies and TV shows, and the aforementioned dessert.
Which I guess brings us all the way back around to The Quiet Man. Drinking aside, it is still a wonderful movie, with just dynamite performances across the board. John Wayne is still basically John Wayne, but also surprisingly effective as a romantic lead who only does a limited amount of punching as former boxer Sean Thornton. Maureen O’Hara’s gorgeous technicolor hair is the sharp accent to her fiery Mary Kate, Barry Fitzgerald is hilarious as Thornton’s guide and pseudo-matchmaker Michaleen, Ward Bond makes for a terrifically funny priest, Father Lonergan, and not unlike Yellow Ribbon, Victor McLaglen nearly steals the whole film as the mountain of a villain, Squire Red Will Danaher. He gets many of the films best lines (“Feeney, get your book out” “I’m taking no drinks from you, you little squint!”) plus his climatic battle with Thornton is easily the Best Extended Comic Fistfight of all time.
This movie also spurred my continued love of Irish drinking songs (okay, Irish folk songs might be more fair), as the soundtrack is just teeming with them – “Wild Colonial Boy,” “Mush-Mush-Mush Tural-i-addy,” “The Humor is On Me Now” – which led me to create many a Parade Day soundtrack, back in my mix CD days. What does Spotify have in this regard? Plenty, I imagine! Time for playlists!
Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor for McLaglen, it won Cinematography and Best Director for Ford, his fourth and final statue, still the directing Oscar record. Ford’s stock company of actors creates a bunch of Two-Timers, with McLaglen, Natwick, Shields, and his older brother Francis all having appeared in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, while Jack MacGowran would later pop up in #216 The Exorcist. Ford is the 16th Three-Timer director, with all three featuring Wayne as the star. Spotlight!