Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: The Quiet Man

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, September 30, 1999

Have the good manners not to hit the man until he’s your husband.

Special features

Making Of5

Probably the best John Wayne/John Ford movie I’ve seen, mostly because I’m not particularly a big fan of westerns (I also really liked “Allegheny Uprising”). Here, John Wayne plays a boxer returning to his Irish home and falling in love with Maureen O’Hara. He ends up at cultural loggerheads with his love’s brother and his love. Big problem with the DVD: the audio doesn’t play on Pioneer 414s! Owners of other models of players have also noted low quality audio, although most of them can actually hear it to judge.

RecommendationPossible Rental
DirectorJohn Ford
WritersFrank S. Nugent, Maurice Walsh
Movie Rating7
Transfer Quality2
Overall Rating2
  • Academy Ratio

“Saddle up my horse, will you please?”

That’s probably the only western-sounding phrase in this movie. It’s a fairly authentic movie in Ireland. An Irish friend of mine called it a “great movie. Many of the Irish accents are actually genuine. The locations are genuine. In fact it’s a popular movie in Ireland.” Whether he meant it was a great movie because it was great, or because they got the accents right, I don’t know. They filmed on location, which was not only odd for Hollywood at the time, but especially odd for Republic Pictures, who were known for their “B” grade, lower budget, movies. But Republic wanted to revamp their image, and John Ford wanted to make a movie that no one in Hollywood wanted to back, so they came to an agreement: make us a hit on the cheap, and we’ll let you make “The Quiet Man”. So John Ford got John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara together and made “Rio Grande”. (Victor McLaglen was also in “Rio Grande”.)

In “The Quiet Man”, Sean Thornton (John Wayne) is an American boxer who “returns” to his Irish hometown. His family left Innisfree when he was very young, and most of his memories of the town appear to be from his mother’s stories, including stories of the small cottage they left. Still, Sean remembers a few faces, and they remember him and his family. Towards the beginning, the Catholic priest (there is a Protestant minister, but he has a tiny, tiny denomination) tells Sean, “I knew your people, Sean. Your grandfather; he died in Australia, in a penal colony. And your father, he was a good man too.”

The Irish Republican Army is still remembered fondly in Ireland in this time. Michaleen Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald), the village marriage-broker, is also part of the remnants of the IRA.

John Wayne really shines as an actor in this movie. I’ve never been as big of a fan of Wayne as others are, but “The Quiet Man” really shows him at his best. Maureen O’Hara was her usualy fiery red-headed self. Perhaps the best part of the movie was the naturalness of the bit parts. Many of the walk-ons were, in fact, taken from the local village. You’ll see a number of locals in the crowd scenes. You’ll also see John Wayne’s children, and on the other side of the hill you’ll see John Ford’s elder brother.

The scenery is very nice to look at, and must have been impressive on the big screen. John Ford had to argue with Republic to use technicolor: they wanted him to use the cheaper color process that Republic used on most of their other color films.

The trailer is not listed separately: it is part of the “making of” documentary with Leonard Maltin. It’s an interesting program, but each of the elements are a bit short, and there’s little detail. But it does explain something of the friendship and respect between John Wayne and John Ford. It also goes into some of the deleted scenes (which were never filmed) and points out where the results of one deleted scene made it into the final movie, even if the scene did not.

The video quality seems pretty good, especially considering this was made in 1952. Some people have complained about light fading problems, but it seemed fine on my Macintosh. The biggest problem with this DVD is that it has problems playing the audio. This is currently the only DVD I know about that won’t play on the Pioneer 414. The 414 gets no audio at all during the movie or the extras. The only time you hear the audio is in the company logo before the menu. Obviously, if you own a player it doesn’t play on, you should neither purchase nor rent. It did play fine on the Macintosh G4 in my office, though it seems silly to have to come to work early to watch a movie when I’ve got a player at home.

The best bet is to find someone else who already owns this DVD and borrow it from them. It’s a good movie, well worth watching, but you don’t want to bet the purchase price, or your weekend movie screening, on the disc actually working.

Recommendation: Possible Rental

DirectorJohn Ford
WritersFrank S. Nugent, Maurice Walsh
ActorsJohn Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Barry Fitzgerald
Spoken languageEnglish
Special FeaturesMaking Of, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed The Quiet Man…

For more about Barry Fitzgerald, you might also be interested in Going My Way/Holiday Inn.