Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Quiet Man

Thursday night I watched The Quiet Man, as I do every St. Patrick's Day. My birth father was a proud Irishman and it was his favorite movie. After he retired, we took a trip together to Ireland, just him and I. We didn't grow up together, and it really was our first time alone to get to know one another. We had a wonderful time traipsing through castles and cemeteries, listening to folk music in pubs and enjoying the stunning vistas off the west coast of that beautiful country. It was one of greatest experiences of my life.

So on March 17th I wear a sweater that we bought over there, and in the evening I watch the John Ford classic, starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and Barry Fitzgerald. The movie has aged well, and I always enjoy it, and even appreciate something new each time. Maureen O'Hara dazzles me. There is a page of unwritten dialogue in every look she gives to Sean Thornton, Wayne's character. Thornton is a man's man, but it is O'Hara's Mary Kate Danaher that grabs control of this relationship and never lets go, manipulating Thornton at every turn, even when he grabs her from the train and literally drags her back to town.

Barry Fitzgerald makes the perfect matchmaker. His Michaleen Flynn has an Irishman's taste for drink and a knowing twinkle in his eye. Interesting footnote: When Flynn sees the broken bed, he exclaims: "Impetuous! Homeric!" When the movie premiered in Boston in 1952, this line was censored. My how times have changed.

Some movies are quickly forgotten. Others live forever in our memory, indelibly linked to an unforgettable time, place or relationship. My dad passed away several years ago, but it still feels like we're watching The Quiet Man together.


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