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Old 11th Oct 2010, 18:23   #1
Lucoid
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Default The Quiet Man

In case you haven't heard, there's a recession on, so I'm doing all I can to justify the pennies we spend in our house at the moment (Green & Black's dark chocolate is an essential purchase, not a luxury, by the way). To make the most of both our Radio Times subscription and the swanky Freesat HD receiver/hard disc recorder/Blu-Ray player hubby insisted we most definitely needed when our DVD player developed a mind of its own, I've started recording loads of films, an eclectic range chosen mostly on the basis of the reviews in the RT and, rather excitingly, including some I've not really heard of before. So, on Friday night we settled down to watch Western-director John Ford's romantic comedy The Quiet Man (1952), shown a couple of weeks ago in the daytime and awarded five RT stars, never an accolade to be taken lightly. It also won Ford 'best director' at the Oscars.

The premise: Sean Thornton (John Wayne) heads home from the US of A where they have cars and everything to the quaint Irish village he was born in, determined to make a new start by reclaiming the family cottage despite the fact he has to get his feet wet crossing a ford to get to it and horse power still means what it says in that part of the world. Pretty much as soon as he arrives, he spies a skittish red-headed lady (shy but feisty Mary Kate Danaher, played by Maureen O'Hara) in a field and apparently falls madly in lust straight away, despite standing some distance from her and exchanging not a word. I think the voyage must have been long and deprivation took its toll. Anyhoo, she lives with her controlling older brother who looks old enough to be her father (as does Wayne) and is tremendoudly mean to her and just about everyone else, and even tries to fight John Wayne though you just know this quiet yet brooding man can pack a punch, which tells us big bruv's clearly not right in the head.

It had elements I enjoyed, particularly the wonderful comic character of matchmaker Michaleen (Barry Fitzgerald) who had just about all the best lines, but overall it just didn't hit the spot for me, and certainly not the heights of five-stardom. I liked that it's clearly a direct ancestor of the gentle comedies typical of this side of the Atlantic (although of course the director was American), such as The Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain and Waking Ned but sadly it wasn't nearly so much fun as either of those. I must admit that my opinion was greatly influenced by how dated it felt – this is no timeless romance, despite there being more than a hint of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara in evidence. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of sideways glances and all that between the leads, but the attitude to relationships is so old-fashioned it made me angry (yes, Gone with the Wind does that, too, but this lacked the passion and trueness that makes GwtW forgivable). Of course, this portrayal was partly a teasing poke by the Americans at the supposedly backwards way things were in Ireland, just one of the many Irish cliches trotted out, but it's also of its time, and too much so for my liking. As the film progressed, the relationship verged on violent as these two people who fancy the pants off each other suddenly have to work out how to make married life work with their two different outlooks and her fiery temper, an argument for compulsory cohabitation for any couple considering marriage if ever I saw one. Of course, this is all only exacerbated by the rule at the heart of any romantic comedy – that there has to be a really sticky problem for the star-crossed lovers to surmount before they can live happily ever after. In this case it's Wayne's reluctance to fight his blustering, bullying brother-in-law over his bewildered new wife's dowry, which he's happy to forget about as he's a bit blind to the fact that it means everything to her, a symbol of her new freedom from forced servitude to her brother as she enters her life of voluntary servitude to her husband.

The Quiet Man completely missed the mark for my other half, who will probably never acquiesce to my choice of film ever again without making me present my case with a full report and slide show as to why I think it will be worthwhile, while I found it more than a little tedious (tooooo long!) and insulting to my intelligence and ideals, though there was enough humour in it to make me laugh out loud (that's not hard, for those who don't know me).

Dear Radio Times: 5 stars? Really? I give it 2.
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Old 12th Oct 2010, 4:36   #2
Beth
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Default Re: The Quiet Man

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucoid View Post
I liked that it's clearly a direct ancestor of the gentle comedies typical of this side of the Atlantic...
I like this quality as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucoid View Post
...the relationship verged on violent as these two people who fancy the pants off each other suddenly have to work out how to make married life work with their two different outlooks and her fiery temper, an argument for compulsory cohabitation for any couple considering marriage if ever I saw one.
teeheeheeheehee! And I think their "chemistry" is just as fine an argument against cohabitation.

It's all a bit over the top, yes. Not a favorite of mine by any stretch. Nice greenery scenery.
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Old 14th Oct 2010, 13:28   #3
Lucoid
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Default Re: The Quiet Man

Above all, it really wasn't the best choice I could have made for a Friday night in with a bottle of wine. Better suited to ironing on my own, without a bored husband fidgeting beside me on the sofa.
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