The Quite Man – An American Sings Irish Ballad!

By: Tom Watson

Action...Excitement...Romance...Fill the Screen! This one is the perfect tagline to define The Quite Man. One of the Hollywood’s longest in the making movie; The Quite Man was screened in 1952 worldwide. Director John Ford’s one of classic movies, The Quite Man reflects human relationships, nostalgic flavour and contemporary imageries of Irish heritage in its purest forms. Apart from the script, all the characters in The Quite Man display personal endeavours to entertain the warmth and vitality of human relationships in every possible level. Cinematography in The Quite Man is at its best and Winton C. Hoch has done exceedingly well in picturising various Irish locations in the backdrop of story. In true sense The Quite Man is a cinematic representation of a classic romantic drama.

The storyline is very simple and there is nothing historic about the story or it does not carry any social message. The story is all about two lovers Sean Thornton (John Wayne) and Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) and their struggle through time and finally reconciliation in between them. The main plot can be summarised as “Set in 1920s Ireland, Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an Irish-American from Pittsburgh, returns to Ireland 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. The truth about Sean, however, is known only to one other person in the village, the Church of Ireland minister Rev. Playfair (Arthur Shields). Sean is a former boxer in the United States, a heavy weight champion known as "Trooper Thorn." After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, Sean hung up his gloves, vowing never to fight again.

Later, in an attempt to force Sean to confront Will Danaher, Mary Kate leaves him and boards a train departing Castletown and headed to Dublin; Ireland's Capital. 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 stands up for his wife. Sean and Will slug it out through the village, stop for a drink, brawl again, then becomes best friends. Sean regains Mary Kate's love and respect. Will Danaher and the Widow Tillane begin courting, and peace returned to Innisfree.” (Courtesy:

In the movie one can see the underlying conflict has a great deal in common with the Western culture and lifestyle. At its core, there is a “good man” that represents an outsider, who enters into conflict with the “bad man” in the protagonist who represents the established, rich, and overbearing land owner. The conflict revolves around love, honour and social acceptance. The Quiet Man is a definitely a Fordian film in every sense as it represents uniqueness of Ford and his immense love Ireland. If I were asked, I would have advised every to keep one DVD copy of The Quiet Man in your movie wallet. The new special edition DVD has several interesting features. The print is bright and colourful. You can order this from right now.

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