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The Quiet Man(1952)
A retired boxer from the US returns to the village where he was born in Ireland, where he finds love.
For more about The Quiet Man and the The Quiet Man Blu-ray release, see the The Quiet Man Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 4, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick
Director: John Ford
» See full cast & crew
The Quiet Man Blu-ray Review
No need to stay quiet about this fantastic release.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 4, 2013
John Ford is a director who has become identified, almost synonymously so at times, with the American West. Probably no other director, not even Howard Hawks or Anthony Mann, has contributed as much to the Western genre as Ford did, and many of Ford's films set in the idiom have become all time classics. How interesting, then, that one of Ford's better remembered films (some might even argue his best remembered film) was the director's loving ode to his ancestral home of Ireland. In some ways, though, The Quiet Man plays very much like a Western, albeit a slightly comic one. The stalwart hero in this case is an expat American named Sean Thornton (John Wayne) who has returned to his ancestral home of Innisfree. Sean has twin (related) nemeses in the film, who may not be "bad guys" in the traditional sense (especially since one of them is a woman), but who offer an obstacle to overcome much like any good Western hero has to face. These "problems" are a blowhard named Will Danagher (Victor McLaglen) and Danagher's tempestuous sister Mary Kate (Maureen O'Hara), a feisty lass with whom Sean more or less falls instantly in love but who is not exactly going to go gently into that domestic bliss night with Sean. Much like most of Ford's Westerns, The Quiet Man's setting is as much a character as any of its human beings, and the film contains some of the most lustrous Technicolor footage of Ireland that's ever been captured on celluloid.
The Quiet Man is a near perfect entertainment that may indeed tonally echo some of Ford's Western oeuvre, but which in its own way is a rather subtle remaking of Shakespeare's immortal The Taming of the Shrew. When Sean returns to the tiny Irish village of his youth, he almost instantly sees Mary Kate dashing through a glorious field with a bunch of sheep, and it's not hard to see that the attraction is both magnetic and mutual. Sean's first order of business, though, is to buy his childhood home, which is currently owned by an elderly (and very wealthy) spinster named Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick). Sean's comrade in arms, Michaeleen O'Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald), takes him to the Widow, but she doesn't seem particularly prone to selling the property until Will Danagher storms in and berates her for even thinking of selling a property that he thinks she has already promised to sell him. That sets the Widow's teeth on edge and she sells the home and property to Sean on the spot. That in turn makes Will a very angry Irishman.
Sean manages to court Mary Kate despite Will's objections, and the two are married, but only after a bit of village wide subterfuge that ends up deeply embarrassing (even enraging) Will, which leads to him refusing to give Mary Kate her dowry. Now this arcane bit of marriage law may seem archaic and quaint to modern audiences, and in fact Sean is a sort of stand in for that point of view, for he expresses absolutely no interest in Mary Kate's dowry, which in turn enrages her. What Sean fails to realize is that Mary Kate's dowry is her claim to her own identity and in a very real way her ability to be her own woman, but it's also bound up in a tangential issue where she can't abide the fact that Sean won't at least fight for something she holds so dear. What she doesn't know is that Sean had been a professional fighter in the United States and had experienced a tragedy in the ring which colors his feelings for hand to hand combat. But the bottom line is Mary Kate, already not the calmest of women, becomes completely estranged from Sean, despite the fact that they're officially married.
To reveal much more about the plot would spoil some of the most heartfelt but boisterous interaction that Ford ever directed. A passing reference must however be given to an epic fight that ultimately does ensue between Will and Sean, for it is one of the funniest, fiercest contretemps in the entire history of film. (The technical term for the clash is "donnybrook", which in fact was the name of the musical version of the film which ran rather briefly on Broadway in 1961.) The Quiet Man is probably the best pairing of Wayne and O'Hara, a film where their simmering sexual chemistry really found full flower, perhaps because of the Irish environment. But the supporting cast here is simply a marvel, a gaggle of the kind of character actor and actress we're unfortunately unlikely to ever see again, including several vaunted members of the Irish Rep mixed with members of Ford's stock company. In addition to McLaglen, Fitzgerald and Natwick, the supporting cast also includes wonderful turns by Ward Bond as the village Priest and Ford's brother Francis as a townsman. Fitzgerald's brother Arthur Shields also has a small but important role as another clergyman who knows the secret of Sean's boxing past. (The film was something of an all around family affair. Maureen O'Hara's two brothers portray bit roles, as does John Ford's then brand new son-in-law, Ken Curtis, who would later acquire television fame as Gunsmoke's Festus. Wayne's four kids also show up as extras.)
I probably first saw The Quiet Man on television when I was a very young child, but it captured my imagination immediately and it has remained one of my all time favorite films in the (many) ensuing years. In fact The Quiet Man is that rare entertainment that can appeal to kids on one visceral level while speaking to adults on a completely deeper and more soulful level. The screenplay (by Maurice Walsh, Frank S. Nugent and Richard Llewellyn) mines the rather ripe comedic fields offered by the setting and the expert cast without ever tipping too far into self- parody, but the writing also captures the immensity of heart that is at the core of the Irish people. The Quiet Man is probably an idealized view of Ireland (warts, donnybrooks and all), but somehow it's an idealization that seems more real than mere "reality" could ever be.
The Quiet Man Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Quiet Man is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.37:1. There was quite a bit of internet hubbub when my interview with Olive Films' Frank Tarzi broke the news that The Quiet Man was coming to Blu-ray and also that Olive was not utilizing the UCLA restoration. Several experts expressed at least moderate surprise at this fact, though some conceded that the UCLA restoration had "issues" in and of itself and might not be proper material for a new HD master. All of that "palace intrigue" aside, Olive's press materials repeat Mr. Tarzi's comments in my interview with him and tout this transfer as coming from a new 4K scan from the original camera negative. The results are, in a word, sumptuous. The unbelievably gorgeous Technicolor cinematography of Winton Hoch and Archie Stout boasts all of the incredible variety of greens imaginable, but best of all (at least for true Technicolor aficionados), the reds are simply rock solid, from the slight auburn tint of O'Hara's hair to the deeper crimson of the dress she sometimes wears. The image is wonderfully sharp and precise and there are no major stability issues to report. Are there any issues? Well, yes, a couple of extremely minor ones which are in some cases no doubt endemic to the source elements, including some minor density fluctuations in some of the rear projection materials, and one or two times where some very moderate ringing surrounds objects. Olive has a long history of not digitally tweaking their releases, and some may wonder if that's the case here, given the relative paucity of overt overwhelming grain, but if any noise reduction has been applied, it's been done very judiciously as fine detail remains strong. Overall this is one gorgeous looking transfer that preserves the film's natural look while offering it in about as pristine a version as could be hoped for.
The Quiet Man Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Quiet Man features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mono mix that ably reproduces the original theatrical sonic experience. Victor Young's lovely score has never sounded better, with its fulsome brass orchestrations sounding especially bright and colorful. Dialogue is crisp and clean, and the evocative ambient environmental effects also sound precise and natural. There's just some slight boxiness to Ward Bond's narration as well as the "remembered" voiceover from Sean's mother.
The Quiet Man Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Quiet Man Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
What a phenomenal movie! Every time I watch The Quiet Man, I just fall in love with it all over again, and my love for it has only increased with this wonderful looking and sounding release. Olive Films quickly became one of my favorite "catalog" labels in 2012, and it looks like that tradition is continuing into 2013. Highly recommended.
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The Quiet Man Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: January 22-29 - January 20, 2013
For the week of January 22th, Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings End of Watch to Blu-ray. A cops-and-criminals thriller from Training Day writer David Ayer, End of Watch follows two hotshot police officers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) as they work ...
• The Quiet Man Blu-ray - October 29, 2012
Olive Films have revealed that they are planning to bring to Blu-ray director John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952), starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald. Recently restored in 4K from the original nitrate negative, the film will be available for ...
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