The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, was a film I saw often while I was growing up. I can still recall, in my youthful naiveté, hoping to someday meet John Wayne, whom I only later learned had died before my time. Despite that, he remains one of my favorite actors to this day and, in my opinion, one of the world’s finest actors.
I also consider Maureen O’Hara to be one of Earth’s greatest actresses, due largely to her part in The Quiet Man. Though she and Wayne rarely starred in the same film (I can only name four films in which I know they performed side by side), when they did work together, the audience could count on great performances from the two of them.
The Quiet Man is no exception. In fact, it may be the pinnacle of their partnership. In the film, Wayne stars as a retired American boxer who travels to his ancestral home in Ireland. Entering the town, he spies O’Hara’s character walking through a nearby field. O’Hara looks over her shoulder at this point and makes eye contact with Wayne for a full minute, then ‘scurries’ on home. But the look is enough to tell Wayne’s character – and the audience – that they have just witnessed a love-at-first-sight moment.
O’Hara reportedly said that she thought this scene was the most important one in the film, which would also make it the hardest to perform. And, perhaps, it also made it hard for her to write it. That is correct. Maureen O’Hara wrote the screenplay for The Quiet Man herself, based on a short story of the same name but in a different setting.
O’Hara, when she told her father that she wanted to be an actress, reports that he stated she could try to be an actress. But in case that career choice did not work out, he convinced her to take a secretarial course so that she would have a job to fall back on if her acting wish did not come true.
Luckily for the world, she made it as an actress and a writer. Her typist lessons certainly came in handy for The Quiet Man!
There is one more thing I wish to mention about The Quiet Man. Those who have seen the film all the way through know that, at the end of the movie, Maureen O’Hara stands on tiptoe and whispers something in John Wayne’s ear. Whatever she said, she genuinely startles Wayne, who looks at her in complete shock.
O’Hara has stated that only she, John Ford, and John Wayne knew what she said. Neither man ever revealed what she said – and she herself has stated that she will pass on without revealing what it was she told Wayne.
Those who viewed Marvel’s The Avengers may have guessed where I am going with this. At the end of that film, when Selvig and the other Avengers are bidding Thor good-bye, Black Widow leans over and whispers something to Hawkeye about Loki, which makes him smile in what appears to be wickedly amused anticipation.
So, before Johansson makes a vow of silence on what it was Joss Whedon told her to say, as Maureen O’Hara has – IN HEAVENS’ NAME, WHAT DID SHE TELL HIM?!?
That being said – or asked, as the case may be – I believe that The Quiet Man is a jewel among movies, filled with the indomitable spirit of the greatest actor and actress of a great age. I definitely recommend The Quiet Man to any and all who enjoy a great story, well told and well performed.
Until next time!
The Mithril Guardian