Taking place in Ireland in the 1920s; John Wayne plays a former boxer with a haunting past, and decides to live in Ireland, which was his birth place, to start a new beginning. Wayne falls in love with an Irish woman played by Maureen O'Hara, and the two slowly start to fall in love. However, she is the sister of a town bully played by Victor McLaglen and after tricking him into thinking that a rich widow wants to marry him by order for Wayne and O'Hara to get married; he forbids to give him and his Sister the Dowry of money and possessions, which happens to be a very big marriage tradition in Ireland. O'Hara wants the Dowry, and Wayne who doesn't understand about Irish customs and traditions, refuses to get her what she wants, because he not only thinks that the marriage should be based on love and not traditions, but also the fact that he has to fight her Brother for the Dowry, which Wayne won't because of his haunting past as a boxer. Everyone, including his Wife (Not knowing about his past) see him as a coward, and a man that doesn't love his wife enough to fight for her. The film has not only became a classic film to watch on St.Paddy's day; but it's been nominated for 7 Oscars including Best Picture, and has won two for Best cinematography and Best Director; its recognized by the American Film Institute; and is considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time. You know when you hear so much praise about a film, especially when being considered a classic, but sadly find out that it wasn't as great as you thought it was going to be, and feel bad that you don't find it as good as most people think? That's pretty much my experience with this film, which is one of the worst feelings to ever have, especially when having a big love and passion for film. With that said, that doesn't mean I think the film's bad, because it does have some good things going for it.
John Wayne as our lead, despite that's he's just playing John Wayne, like in every film he's in, I will say I do think this is one of his best performances. He's cool, smooth, fun, likable, and does a good job at carrying out his character's emotions of his haunting past. I even like how the film hints and symbolizes his haunting past before we find out, and the symbolism's, story, and acting don't feel forced or just thrown into the film just to give Wayne a back story, it does flow and fit the story perfectly. We even get a flashback of Wayne's haunting past, which I thought was done very effectively through the visuals, music, and of course Wayne's acting, and we don't even get a single piece of dialogue in that scene (Well, at least from Wayne). As for the concept of Wayne getting into a culture with traditions that he's unfamiliar with and has trouble accepting them, is interesting as well.
Maureen O'Hara as Wayne's love interest is very charming, and there are a great amount of scenes between her in Wayne that are very beautiful. The scene when Wayne finds her in the Cottage; the first time Wayne spots her; and the scene with them in the Graveyard are very beautiful and touching scenes, as well as being very atmospheric with the music, sound effects, lighting, and sets. However, as beautiful as those scenes are, and as charming as O'Hara is, her character sucks. The whole plot of her thinking Wayne is a coward for not facing her Brother to get her the Dowry is a tease and makes her character seem very shallow. I know it has to do with the fact that she's attached to Irish traditions, while Wayne isn't, as well as the fact that she feels that it isn't right for her Brother to keep it, but she seems to be opened to the changes in traditions that Wayne smoothly convinces her to accept. Hell, he and his Irish friends even get her not only her furniture back, but even expensive things without the Dowry. Wayne proves to her that she doesn't need the fortune and that they can live happily together, as well as him being able to get her things without it, but she's still not satisfied with Wayne and his friends efforts, and still thinks that he's a coward that doesn't love her enough to fight for her fortune just because her Brother has it. She even pulls a cold stunt to get to Wayne's breaking point, and instead of Wayne subtly talking to her, telling her if he'll get her, her fortune or not, he forcefully drags her and throws her around like a rag doll for 5 miles as all the people in town cheer for him and encourage his abuse. Even if this act is acceptable in Ireland at the time, there's something about it that doesn't feel right or necessary in this film. I always felt like Wayne should've have just told her about his past, instead of hiding it from her, at least we wouldn't have an annoying misunderstanding. Without giving away the ending, let’s just say I felt really annoyed by O'Hara's action, just as much as I was annoyed by Mary Jane telling Peter in "Spider-Man 2", that she knew that he was Spider-Man all along, which doesn't at all become as touching as the scene was supposed to be. I know the action was revenge against the Brother, but I still can't help but feel that her messing with Wayne's emotions just for a simple revenge against her Brother, was kind of cold and shallow. Much like Mary Jane in the Spider-Man Trilogy, O'Hara is really a tool for Wayne to kiss and look good.
The film itself again, does have a great look to it. Ireland again looks pretty; the music is moving; and the color in the film is beautiful; it is a gorgeous looking movie. However, I will admit, that the color at times does make the film look like that the film's been colorized, when it really wasn't; and we do have some noticeable painted back drops, and projection screens, that look phony, instead of adding to the films beauty and classic charm despite looking fake. There's also a horse race in this film, and while the stunts are nice, it's very unexciting and boring, because of the way its shot in such a far away distance where we can't tell if Wayne is gaining or not. The best scene in the entire movie is the climatic fight scene between Wayne and the bully. Yes the scene is over the top; yes this scene encourages the stereotype of Ireland's love for violence; and yes, the result of the rivalry between Wayne and the bully felt more like it was based on the stereotypes, instead of feeling like an actual solution. But with that said, I still really enjoyed the whole fight sequence despite the issues that I have with it, which are major issues. The humor and over the topness in this fight sequence really does work and makes the fight really fun and entertaining to watch, as well as making it the highlight of the movie. It's the equivalent of watching Stallone fighting Hulk Hogan in "Rocky 3", it's pointless, it's goofy, and has a silly result at the end of the fight, but it's all just good fun entertainment.
After watching "The Quiet Man" two times, I did get more into the film a second time. Wayne is great as our lead; O'Hara despite playing a female character as shallow as Mary Jane, is still charming; the film does look beautiful and atmospheric at many points; and the fight at the end is lots of fun. However, I still think it's a very overrated film. The film's outlook of Irish culture is over the top, mean spirited, and stereotypical; O'Hara's character is unlikable; the stuff that looks fake in the film, looks so fake that it's distracting; and the story, while having an interesting set-up, that does succeed at some points, the solutions leave nothing but a bad taste in my mouth after watching the movie (Much like how feel about the ending of "Grease). It's not a bad movie since there are plenty of things to admire about it, but I don't think its good enough to be one of the greatest films of all time, where even the good things are a mixed bag as well.