Quiet Man [1952]

Blarney and bliss, mixed in equal proportions. John Wayne plays an American boxer who returns to the Emerald Isle, his native land. What he finds there is a fiery prospective spouse (Maureen O'Hara) and a country greener than any Ireland seen before or since--it's no surprise The Quiet Man won an Oscar for cinematography. It also won an Oscar for John Ford's direction, his fourth such award. The film was a deeply personal project for Ford (whose birth name was Sean Aloysius O'Fearna), and he lavished all of his affection for the Irish landscape and Irish people on this film. He also stages perhaps the greatest donnybrook in the history of movies, an epic fistfight between Wayne and the truculent Victor McLaglen--that's Ford's brother, Francis, as the elderly man on his deathbed who miraculously revives when he hears word of the dustup. Barry Fitzgerald, the original Irish elf, gets the movie's biggest laugh when he walks into the newlyweds' bedroom the morning after their wedding, and spots a broken bed. The look on his face says everything. The Quiet Man isn't the real Ireland, but as a delicious never-never land of Ford's imagination, it will do very nicely. --Robert Horton

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