The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man is a 1952 Technicolor American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Ford. It stars John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen. The screenplay by Frank S. Nugent was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story of the same name by Maurice Walsh, later published as part of a collection titled The Green Rushes. The film is notable for Winton Hoch's lush photography of the Irish countryside and a long, climactic, semi-comic fist fight. It was an official selection of the 1952 Venice Film Festival.

The Quiet Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Ford
Produced byJohn Ford
Merian C. Cooper
Screenplay byFrank S. Nugent
Based onThe Quiet Man
1933 story in The Saturday Evening Post
by Maurice Walsh
StarringJohn Wayne
Maureen O'Hara
Barry Fitzgerald
Ward Bond
Victor McLaglen
Narrated byWard Bond
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyWinton C. Hoch
Edited byJack Murray
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
June 6, 1952 (London and Dublin)[1]
August 21, 1952 (New York)
Running time
129 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish, Irish
Budget$1.75 million
Box office$3.2 million (rentals)[2]

The Quiet Man won the Academy Award for Best Director for John Ford, his fourth, and for Best Cinematography. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[3]


In the 1920s, Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an Irish-born American from Pittsburgh, travels to his birthplace—"Inisfree", Ireland—to purchase his family's former farm.[4] Shortly after arriving in Inisfree, he meets and falls in love with the fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara), the sister of a bullying but prosperous landowner, Squire "Red" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). Will also wants to buy the Thornton family's old cottage and land, and he is angered when the property's current owner, the Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick), accepts Sean's bid instead of his offer. Will then retaliates by refusing consent for his sister to marry. Soon some village residents — including Father Peter Lonergan (Ward Bond) and local matchmaker-cum-bookmaker Michaeleen Óge Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) — conspire to trick him into believing that the wealthy Widow Tillane wants to marry him, but only if Mary Kate is no longer living in his household.[5] Will now allows Mary Kate to marry Sean; however, at their wedding he realizes he was deceived about the widow's willingness to marry him. He therefore refuses to give his sister her dowry, which consists of 350 Irish pounds in gold, as well as family furniture and other heirlooms Mary Kate inherited from her mother and grandmother.

Sean, unschooled in Irish customs, professes no interest in obtaining the dowry; but to Mary Kate the dowry represents her sense of personal value not only within her family's own history but within the surrounding community as well. She insists that the dowry is hers and must be received to validate their marriage. Angered and shamed by Sean's refusal to confront her brother and demand what is legally hers, she brands him a coward; and, despite living together, they are estranged as husband and wife. Yet, the morning after their wedding, villagers arrive at the couple's cottage with Mary Kate's furniture. The men inform her and Sean that they persuaded Will to release the material portion of the dowry, but they could not convince him to pay the dowry money.

Sean's quiet manner and reluctance to fight for his new wife's dowry are attributed to a tragedy he experienced prior to his return to Ireland. Portrayed in a flashback earlier in the film, scenes depict the event, which occurred during his career as a professional heavyweight boxer in the United States. While fighting as "Trooper Thorn", he accidentally killed an opponent in the ring. Devastated by the death, Sean quit the sport, vowing never to fight again. In Inisfree only one person—the Reverend Cyril Playfair (Arthur Shields)—is aware of Sean's former career and the tragedy. The minister many years earlier had been a lightweight boxing champion himself, so he maintains a scrapbook of news articles about the sport. He therefore relates to Thornton's grief and internal conflict regarding the fatal fight.

Early the next morning, in an attempt to force her new husband to confront her brother, Mary Kate quietly leaves their cottage to board a train departing Castletown for Dublin. Sean soon learns from Michaeleen that she has gone to the station, where Thornton finds her and drags her off the train. Followed by a crowd of villagers, he forces her to walk with him the five miles back to the Danaher farm. There Sean confronts Will and demands the dowry money. When he refuses to give it to him, Sean throws Mary Kate back at her brother, declaring "no fortune, no marriage" is their custom, not his. The ultimatum shocks both Mary Kate and Will, who finally pays the 350 pounds, tossing the cash onto the ground. Sean promptly picks up the money and throws it into the fire of a nearby boiler. Mary Kate assists him by opening the boiler's door, an act that shows she never really cared about the money itself, only about what it represents. As the reconciled couple starts to depart for home, Will tries to punch Sean but is knocked down by a counterpunch from his brother-in-law.

A long fistfight ensues between the two men, a battle that attracts more and more spectators as they slug it out across the countryside and into the village. The fighters finally pause for a drink inside Cohan's Bar, where they begrudgingly admit a mutual respect for one another. After arguing over who is to pay for the drinks, Sean ends the fight by hitting Will so hard that he falls back, crashes through the bar's front door, and ends up lying unconscious in the street. Later, with their rift apparently healed, the men get drunk and then together stagger back to Sean and Mary Kate's home for supper.

As part of the story's conclusion, Will and the Widow Tillane begin their own courtship and are shown riding out of the village side by side in a jaunting car carriage driven by Michaeleen. Then, in the film's final scene, Mary Kate and Sean are standing together at the stream by their cottage, smiling and waving at Michaeleen's cart. Mary Kate then whispers something to Sean, prompting a surprised look. Leading the way, she encourages Sean to chase her to their cottage. When he catches her they embrace, then playfully march on arm in arm.


  • John Wayne as Sean Thornton
  • Maureen O'Hara as Mary Kate Danaher
  • Barry Fitzgerald as Michaeleen "Óge" Flynn
  • Victor McLaglen as Squire "Red" Will Danaher
  • Ward Bond as Father Peter Lonergan
  • Mildred Natwick as the Widow Sarah Tillane
  • Francis Ford as Dan Tobin
  • Arthur Shields as Rev. Cyril Playfair
  • Eileen Crowe as Elizabeth Playfair
  • Charles FitzSimons as Hugh Forbes
  • James Fitzsimons (as James Lilburn) as Father Paul
  • Sean McClory as Owen Glynn
  • Emily Eby as Mave Campbell
  • Jack MacGowran as Ignatius Feeney
  • Philip Stainton as Anglican Bishop
  • May Craig as Fishwoman with Basket at Station
  • Paddy O'Donnell as Railway porter
  • Eric Gorman as Costello – Engine driver
  • Kevin Lawless as Engine fireman
  • Joseph O'Dea as Molouney – Train guard
  • Tony Canzoneri as Boxing Second (uncredited)
  • Frank Baker as Man in Bar (uncredited)
  • Ruth Clifford as Mother (uncredited)
  • Maureen Coyne as Dan Tobin's Daughter Ireland (uncredited)
  • Mimi Doyle as Dan Tobin's Daughter USA (uncredited)
  • Ken Curtis as Dermot Fahy (uncredited)
  • Douglas Evans as Ring Physician (uncredited)
  • Charles Ferguson as Danaher Brother (uncredited)
  • Robert Foy as Driver of Cart Across River (uncredited)
  • Sam Harris as the deaf General (uncredited)
  • D.R.O. Hatswell as Guppy (uncredited)
  • John Horan as Man at Railway Station (uncredited)
  • David Hughes as Police Constable (uncredited)
  • Billy Jones as Bugler (uncredited)
  • Tiny Jones as Nell (Maid) (uncredited)
  • Colin Kenny as Pub Extra (uncredited)
  • Patrick Wayne as Boy on Wagon at Horse Race (uncredited)
  • Michael Wayne as Teenage Boy at Races (uncredited)
  • Toni Wayne as Teenage Girl at Races (uncredited)
  • Melinda Wayne as Girl on Wagon at Horse Race (uncredited)
  • Mae Marsh as Father Paul's Mother (uncredited)
  • Jim Morrin as Roof Thatcher (uncredited)
  • Jim McVeigh as Man Following Cart Across River (uncredited)
  • Harry Tenbrook as Police Sergeant Hanan (uncredited)
  • Harry Tyler as Pat Cohan (Publican) (uncredited)
  • Al Murphy as Boxing Referee (uncredited)
  • Hank Worden as Boxing Trainer (uncredited)
  • Michael O'Brian as Musha Musha Man (uncredited)
  • Pat O'Malley as Man in Bar (uncredited)
  • Frank O'Connor as Ringside Photographer (uncredited)
  • Web Overlander as Hugh Bailey (Stationmaster) (uncredited)
  • Bob Perry as Trooper Thorn's Ringside Trainer (uncredited)
  • Darla Ridgeway as Girl (uncredited)
  • Freddy Ridgeway as Boy (uncredited)
  • Philip Stainton as Anglican Bishop (uncredited)
  • Jack Roper as Tony Gardello (Boxer) (uncredited)
  • Brick Sullivan as Townsman (uncredited)


The film was something of a departure for Wayne and Ford, who were both known mostly for Westerns and other action-oriented films. It was also a departure for Republic Pictures, which backed Ford in what was considered a risky venture at the time. It was the only time the studio, known for low budget B-movies, released a film that would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Ford read the story in 1933 and soon purchased the rights to it for $10. The story's author was paid another $2,500 when Republic bought the idea, and he received a final payment of $3,750 when the film was actually made.[6] Republic Pictures agreed to finance the film with O'Hara and Wayne starring and Ford directing, but only if all three agreed to first film a Western with Republic. They did, and after completing Rio Grande, they headed for Ireland to start shooting.

One of the conditions that Republic placed on Ford was that the film run under two hours. However, the finished picture was two hours and nine minutes. When screening the film for Republic executives, Ford stopped the film at approximately two hours in, on the verge of the climactic fistfight. Republic executives relented and allowed the film to run its full length.[7] It was one of the few films that Republic filmed in Technicolor; most of the studio's other color films were made in a more economical process known as Trucolor.

The film employed many actors from the Irish theatre, including Barry Fitzgerald's brother, Arthur Shields, as well as extras from the Irish countryside, and it is one of the few Hollywood movies in which the Irish language can be heard. Filming commenced on June 7, 1951. All of the outdoor scenes were shot on location in Ireland in County Mayo and County Galway. The inside scenes were filmed toward the end of July at the Republic Studios in Hollywood.

The story is set in the fictional community of Inisfree. This is not the same as the Lake Isle of Innisfree, a place in Lough Gill on the SligoLeitrim border made famous by poet William Butler Yeats, which is a tiny island. Many scenes for the film were actually shot in and around the village of Cong, County Mayo, on the grounds of Cong's Ashford Castle. Cong is now a wealthy small town and the castle a 5-star luxury hotel. The connections with the film have led to the area becoming a tourist attraction. In 2008, a pub opened in the building used as the pub in the film (it had actually been a shop at the time when the movie was shot); the pub hosts daily re-runs of the film on DVD.[8] The Quiet Man Fan Club holds its annual general meeting in Ashford Castle. Other locations in the film include Thoor Ballylee, Co. Galway, home of poet W.B. Yeats for a period, Ballyglunin railway station near Tuam Co. Galway, which was filmed as Castletown station, and various places in Connemara Co. Galway and Co. Mayo. Among those are Lettergesh beach, where the horse race scene was filmed,[9] "The Quiet Man Bridge", signposted off the N59 road between Maam Cross and Oughterard[10] and the "White O'Morn" cottage. The latter is located on R336 south of Maam, but long ago fell into ruin.[11]

The film also presents Ford's depiction of an idealized Irish society, with only implied social divisions based on class and differences in political or religious affiliations. The Catholic priest, Father Lonergan, and the Protestant minister, Reverend Playfair, maintain a strong friendly relationship throughout the film, which represented the norm in what was then the Irish Free State, where religious tensions occurred in the 1930s but were the norm only in Northern Ireland. One of the allusions to Anglo-Irish animosity occurs after the happy couple is married and a congratulatory toast offered by Hugh Forbes expresses the wish that they live in "national freedom" (the term national has been censored from most editions)[9] and before the final donnybrook when Thornton demands his wife's dowry from Danaher. Danaher asks Hugh Forbes, who had been commander of the local Irish Republican Army unit during the fight to expel the British, "So the IRA is in this too, ah", to which Forbes replies, "If it were, not a scorched stone of your fine house would be standing."


Ford chose his friend, Hollywood composer Victor Young, to compose the score for the film. Young sprinkled the soundtrack with many Irish airs such as the "Rakes of Mallow" and "The Wild Colonial Boy". One piece of music, chosen by Ford himself, is most prominent: the melody the "Isle of Innisfree", written not by Young, but by the Irish policeman/songwriter Richard Farrelly. The melody of the "Isle of Innisfree", which is first heard over the opening credit sequence with Ashford Castle in the background, becomes the principal musical theme of The Quiet Man. The melody is reprised at least eleven times throughout the film.

The upbeat melody comically hummed by Michaeleen Oge Flynn and later played on the accordion is the "Rakes of Mallow".

A portion of the Irish version of "The Wild Colonial Boy" is played throughout the film.

When Maureen O'Hara died in October 2015, her family stated she listened to music from The Quiet Man during her final hours.[12] Filmmaker George A. Romero was also said to have died listening to the score.[13]


In 1952 A. H. Weiler of The New York Times viewed the film "as darlin' a picture as we've seen this year," with "dialogue that is as tuneful as a lark's song."[14] In another contemporary review, the entertainment trade paper Variety called the picture "beautifully filmed" and wrote that "Wayne works well under Ford's direction," but found the 129-minute running time "unnecessary."[15] Harrison's Reports described the film as "a delightful and rollicking comedy melodrama of Irish life, directed with skill and acted with gusto by a fine cast."[16] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post declared it "a complete jim-dandy ... The photography is glorious and Victor Young's score, inspired by folk airs, is a complete joy for an exuberant, vigorous picture."[17] Philip Hamburger of The New Yorker was not so taken with the film, writing, "If am to believe what I saw in John Ford's sentimental new film, 'The Quiet Man,' practically everybody in Ireland is just as cute as a button," adding, "Mr. Ford's scenes of the Irish countryside are often breathtaking ... but the master who made 'The Informer' appears to have fallen into a vat of treacle."[18]

On the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, The Quiet Man in 2019 has a 90% approval rating based on reviews from 41 critics. Critical consensus on the website states, "Director John Ford and star John Wayne depart the Western for the Irish countryside, and the result is a beautifully photographed, often comedic romance."[19]

The film was also a financial success, grossing $3.8 million in its first year of release. This was among the top ten grosses of the year.[20] It was also the seventh most popular film for British audiences in 1952.[21]

Academy Awards

Award[22][23] Person
Best Director John Ford
Best Cinematography Winton C. Hoch
Archie Stout
Best Picture John Ford
Merian C. Cooper
Best Supporting Actor Victor McLaglen
Best Art Direction Frank Hotaling
John McCarthy Jr.
Charles S. Thompson
Best Sound Daniel J. Bloomberg
(Republic Sound Department)
Best Adapted Screenplay Frank S. Nugent

Home video

It was first released on DVD December 14, 1998 by Artisan Home Entertainment. It was also released 4 years later on a Collector's edition DVD on October 22, 2002 by Artisan. The Special features on this edition include "The Making of the Quiet Man" Documentary with Leonard Maltin, and "The Joy of Ireland" Documentary with Maureen O'Hara and Andrew V. McLaglen, and "Remembering The Quiet Man Montage".

On January 22, 2013 Olive Films released The Quiet Man on DVD and for the first time on Blu-ray, as a 60th Anniversary Special edition. It included the documentary "The Making of the Quiet Man" with Leonard Maltin.

In 2010 there was a documentary called Dreaming The Quiet Man made about the journey and making of The Quiet Man. It was narrated by Gabriel Byrne, and had interviews with Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Charles F. Fitzsimons, and Maureen O'Hara. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time on March 24, 2015.

See also

References and notes

  1. "The Quiet Man - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  2. 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953.
  3. "Library of Congress announces 2013 National Film Registry selections". Washington Post (Press release). December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  4. The spelling of the fictional village "Inisfree" can vary in spelling in some film reviews and articles, often being cited "Innisfree". In the film, however, the public notices announcing the upcoming horse race are boldly printed "INISFREE RACE MEET".
  5. Michaeleen’s full name includes "Óge", which in Irish translates to "young" in English. Óge is used to distinguish between a father and his son with the same name, much in the manner that the suffixes "Sr." and "Jr." do in English.
  6. Maureen O'Hara with John Nicoletti. 'Tis Herself: An Autobiography, p. 158-159. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (2005 edition).
  7. Maureen O'Hara with John Nicoletti. 'Tis Herself: An Autobiography, p. 169-170. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (2005 edition).
  8. "Quiet Man fans can sup a stout in the film’s pub," Belfast Telegraph, August 25, 2008.
  9. "The Quiet Man (1952) Trivia". IMDb. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  10. "The Quiet Man Bridge". Oughterard Tourism. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  11. "Day Two of the Quiet Man Celebration: I fell in love with the cottage at first sight ..I'll bring the dream alive and put back all that movie magic; White O'Morn Owner Vows to Restore It". The Mirror. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  12. "Actress Maureen O'Hara dies at 95". USA Today. Associated Press (October 25, 2015)
  13. "George A. Romero, 'Night of the Living Dead' creator, dies at 77". LA Times (July 16, 2017)
  14. Weiler, A. H. (August 22, 1952). "The Screen In Review". The New York Times: 13.
  15. "The Quiet Man". Variety: 6. May 14, 1952.
  16. "'The Quiet Man' with John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen and Barry Fitzgerald". Harrison's Reports: 79. May 17, 1952.
  17. Coe, Richard L. (October 3, 1952). "Now Irish Eyes Are Smiling Again": 30. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. Hamburger, Philip (August 23, 1952). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker: 56–57.
  19. "The Quiet Man (1952)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  20. Gallagher, Tag John Ford: The Man and his Films (University of California Press 1986) p.499
  21. "Comedian Tops Film Poll". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. December 28, 1952. p. 4. Retrieved August 12, 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  22. "The 25th Academy Awards (1953) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  23. Crowther, Bosley (March 29, 1953). "The 'Oscar' Awards; Showmanship Rather Than Artistry Reigned at the Academy Affair". The New York Times. Retrieved August 12, 2017.


  • Crosson, Seán and Rod Stoneman (2009). The Quiet Man ... and Beyond: Reflections on a Classic Film, John Ford, and Ireland. Liffey Press. ISBN 9781905785568. Includes chapters examining the film's use of language, style, landscape and Ford's connection more generally with Ireland.
  • MacHale, Des (2004). Picture The Quiet Man. Appletree Press. ISBN 9780862819309. Includes an in-depth chapter on the film's score and the "Isle of Innisfree". No online access.
  • McNee, Gerry (2012). In the Footsteps of the Quiet Man: The Inside Story of the Cult Film. Random House. ISBN 9781780574691. Narrative of the film's production.
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