It’s St. Paddy’s Day and I just have to mention something Irish. John Ford’s The Quiet Man is our film of choice on this day. As they say, it’s a love letter to Ireland, full of green vistas, quirky village characters, and that lilting haunting music. It stars John Wayne as the titular protagonist and Maureen O’Hara as Mary-Kate, his hot-tempered, wild-haired Irish wife. Character actor Barry Fitzgerald plays Michaleen Oge Flynn, the cheeky local matchmaker and the pub’s most faithful patron.
The plot revolves around a culture clash as American Sean Thorton (Wayne) tries to navigate the Irish marriage customs, his pig-headed brother-in-law’s refusal to hand over Mary-Kate’s dowry, and Mary-Kate’s expectations that Sean will stand up for her–all while dealing with the demons that drove him to Ireland to begin with.
As a kid, the climatic scene, with Sean dragging Mary-Kate from the train station back to her brother’s, unsettled me. (It should be said that Mary-Kate can more than hold her own in her male-dominated world.) But now it’s a favorite classic. There are so many things I love about this film, not the least the music and the sizzling chemistry between Wayne and O’Hara. It makes me wish I lived in Innisfree.
Hands down, however, my favorite scene is the one where Michaleen accompanies Sean home to his family’s old cottage. The soft score plays as they strain against the hollowing wind, gray sky overhead and swollen river coursing through the field. They part ways at the bridge where Michaleen looks to the sky and says, “Well, it’s a nice, soft night. So I think I’ll join me comrades down at the pub and talk a little treason.”
I don’t know why but my mom and I love that line. It’s a lovely scene–we don’t seem to get many lovely scenes in movies these days.
How about you? What’s your favorite Irish film?