The Quiet Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Ford
Screenplay byFrank S. Nugent
Based on”The Quiet Man”
(1933 short story)
by Maurice Walsh
Produced by
CinematographyWinton C. Hoch
Edited byJack Murray
Music byVictor Young
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release dates
  • June 6, 1952
    • (London and Dublin)[1]
  • August 21, 1952
    • (New York)
Running time
129 minutes
CountryUnited States[2]
Budget$1.75 million
Box office$3.8 million (rentals)[3]
John Wayne and Victor McLaglen in the movie shake hands, Ward Bond between them in the background.

The Quiet Man is a 1952 American[2] romantic comedy-drama film directed and produced by John Ford, and starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, Barry Fitzgerald, and Ward Bond. The screenplay by Frank S. Nugent was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story of the same name by Irish author Maurice Walsh, later published as part of a collection titled The Green Rushes. The film features Winton Hoch's lush photography of the Irish countryside and a long, climactic, semi-comic fist fight.

The film was an official selection of the 1952 Venice Film Festival. John Ford won the Academy Award for Best Director, his fourth, and Winton Hoch won 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".[4][5][6]


In the 1920s, Sean "Trooper Thorn" Thornton, an Irish-born retired boxer, travels from Pittsburgh to his birthplace of Inisfree to purchase the old family farm.[a] Shortly after arriving, he meets and falls in love with fiery, red-headed Mary Kate Danaher, the sister of bullying Squire "Red" Will Danaher. Will also wants to buy the old Thornton property, and is angered when the property's current owner, the wealthy Widow Tillane, accepts Sean's bid instead of his. Will then retaliates by refusing consent for Sean to marry his sister.

Some village residents, including Father Peter Lonergan and local matchmaker-cum-bookmaker Michaeleen Óge Flynn,[b] trick Will Danaher into believing that Widow Tillane will marry him if Mary Kate is no longer under his roof. He gleefully allows the marriage, but he refuses to give Mary Kate her dowry when he finds he was deceived. Sean, unschooled in Irish customs, professes no interest in obtaining the dowry; but to Mary Kate, the dowry represents her personal value to the community and her freedom. She insists that the dowry must be received to validate their marriage, causing an estrangement between her and Sean. The villagers eventually persuade Will to release Mary Kate's furniture, but Will refuses to hand over the monetary part of the dowry.

Mary Kate believes Sean is a coward for not fighting Will. Sean goes to local Protestant Minister and fellow former boxer, Rev. Cyril Playfair, and reveals that he once accidentally killed a younger, married opponent in the ring. Sean had sworn to give up fighting out of fear and guilt over the manslaughter. Mary Kate also confesses (in Irish Gaelic) her part in the quarrel to Father Lonergan, who berates her for her selfishness. She and Sean partially reconcile that night, and they share the bedroom for the first time since their marriage.

However, the next morning, Mary Kate quietly leaves their cottage and boards a train for Dublin, hoping this pretense of leaving will spur Sean to action. Sean soon learns from Michaeleen where she is, races his horse to the train station, and pulls her off the train. Followed by a growing crowd of villagers, Sean forces Mary Kate to walk with him the five miles (8 km) back to the Danaher farm. There, Sean confronts Will and demands the dower-money. When Will refuses, Sean throws Mary Kate back at her brother, declaring he will abide by the Irish custom "no fortune, no marriage". The ultimatum shocks both Mary Kate and Will, who finally pays the £350 (over £17,000 in 2022). Sean immediately burns it in the boiler, abetted by Mary Kate. She proudly leaves for home, but a humiliated Will takes a swing at Sean, only to be knocked down by Sean's defensive counter-punch.

A donnybrook ensues, then evolves into a long Homeric fistfight between Sean and Will after they insincerely agree to adhere to the Marquess of Queensberry rules. This much-anticipated match attracts more and more spectators as it continues for miles across the landscape. The fighters finally pause for a drink inside Cohan's Bar, where they begrudgingly admit a mutual respect for one another. As they argue over who will pay for the drinks, Will tosses a brew into Sean's face. Sean punches Will, sending him falling through the bar doors to lie unconscious in the street, ending the fight. Later, the reconciled and inebriated brothers-in-law stagger arm-in-arm back to Sean and Mary Kate's home for supper, much to Mary Kate's amusement and delight.

The next day, a humbled Will and the Widow Tillane begin their own courtship, and they ride out of the village side by side in a jaunting car driven by Michaeleen. Sean, Mary Kate, and the villagers wave to them as they pass, before Sean and Mary Kate playfully chase each other across the fields back to the cottage.



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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] Vawn Corrigan reports that Ford made considerable efforts to get the costumes correct for the period with Ó’Maille – The Original House of Style in Galway tasked with sourcing the costumes.[9]

"The Quiet Man Bridge"

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 county 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.[10] The Quiet Man Fan Club holds its annual general meeting in Ashford Castle. Other locations in the film include Thoor Ballylee, County Galway, home of poet W.B. Yeats for a period, Ballyglunin railway station near Tuam County Galway, which was filmed as Castletown station, and various places in Connemara County Galway and County Mayo. Among those are Lettergesh beach, where the horse race scene was filmed,[11] "The Quiet Man Bridge", signposted off the N59 road between Maam Cross and Oughterard[12] and the "White O'Morn" cottage. The latter is located on R336 south of Maam, but long ago fell into ruin.[13]

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.[citation needed] 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)[11] 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."

Ernie O'Malley, an Irish Republican Army officer during the war of independence, commander of the anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War, and author, acted as an advisor to Ford on the local culture, being on set with him every day. According to O'Hara, Ford "had a great deal of respect for Ernie... He had such respect for Ernie. They would natter away like old buddies... They liked each other. They were friends".[14]

This movie is, in many ways a family affair. Francis Ford, who played the old man who gets up from his deathbed to watch the fight, is John Ford's older brother. Patrick Ford, the directors son, did much of the stunt work for Victor McLaughlin during the fight scene, and was a unit director. Arthur Shields, who played the Reverend Playfair, is the younger brother of Barry Fitzgerald, Michaeleen Óge Flynn, who was born William Joseph Shields. Charles B. Fitzsimmons, who played Hugh Forbes, and James O'Hara, who played Father Paul, are the brothers of Maureen O'Hara. In addition, four of John Wayne's children are seen in the horse race scene.[15]


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.[16] Filmmaker George A. Romero was also said to have died listening to the score.[17]


Stone inscription for The Quiet Man at Ford's statue in Portland, Maine.

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."[18] 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."[19] 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."[20] 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."[21] 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."[22] In contrast to contemporary reviews of the film, editorial writer Frances Mulraney saw the film as "misogynistic" and "outdated"—due not just to the psychological and physical control the male characters exert over the female characters, but also for the female lead's gender-based expectations of her husband.[23]

On the review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, The Quiet Man in 2023 has a 91% approval rating based on reviews from 46 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."[24]

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.[25] It was also the seventh most popular film for British audiences in 1952.[26]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Recipient(s) Result
Academy Awards[27] Best Actor in a Supporting Role Victor McLaglen Nominated
Best Art Decoration - Set Direction, Color Frank Hotaling, John McCarthy Jr., Charles S. Thompson Nominated
Best Cinematography - Color Winton C. Hoch, Archie Stout Won
Best Director John Ford Won
Best Picture John Ford, Merian C. Cooper Nominated
Best Sound, Recording Daniel J. Bloomberg Nominated
Best Writing, Screenplay Frank S. Nugent Nominated
Golden Globes[28] Best Director John Ford Nominated
Best Original Score Victor Young Nominated
Directors Guild of America[29] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures John Ford, Wingate Smith Won

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.

In popular culture

The scene where John Wayne kisses Maureen O'Hara during a storm appears on a television set in a scene of the 1982 Steven Spielberg film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

See also



  1. ^ 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".
  2. ^ 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.


  1. ^ "The Quiet Man - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 21, 2018 – via
  2. ^ a b "The Quiet Man (1952)". BFI. Retrieved November 23, 2023.
  3. ^ "Top 20 Films of 1952 by Domestic Revenue". Archived from the original on June 15, 2008.
  4. ^ "Library of Congress announces 2013 National Film Registry selections". The Washington Post (Press release). December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  5. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Washington, DC: National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  6. ^ "Cinema with the Right Stuff Marks 2013 National Film Registry". Washington, DC: National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  7. ^ Maureen O'Hara with John Nicoletti. 'Tis Herself: An Autobiography, p. 158-159. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (2005 edition).
  8. ^ Maureen O'Hara with John Nicoletti. 'Tis Herself: An Autobiography, p. 169-170. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (2005 edition).
  9. ^ Corrigan, Vawn (2020). Irish Tweed: History, Tradition, Fashion. O'Brien Press. ISBN 9781788490214.
  10. ^ "Quiet Man fans can sup a stout in the film's pub," Belfast Telegraph, August 25, 2008.
  11. ^ a b "The Quiet Man (1952) Trivia". IMDb. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "The Quiet Man Bridge". Oughterard Tourism. Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ Richard English (March 26, 1998). Ernie O'Malley: IRA Intellectual. Clarendon Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-19-151339-8.
  15. ^ "The Quiet Man (1952) Trivia". IMDb. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  16. ^ "Actress Maureen O'Hara dies at 95". USA Today. Associated Press (October 25, 2015)
  17. ^ "George A. Romero, 'Night of the Living Dead' creator, dies at 77". LA Times (July 16, 2017)
  18. ^ Weiler, A. H. (August 22, 1952). "The Screen In Review". The New York Times: 13.
  19. ^ "The Quiet Man". Variety: 6. May 14, 1952.
  20. ^ "'The Quiet Man' with John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen and Barry Fitzgerald". Harrison's Reports: 79. May 17, 1952.
  21. ^ Coe, Richard L. (October 3, 1952). "Now Irish Eyes Are Smiling Again". The Washington Post. p. 30.
  22. ^ Hamburger, Philip (August 23, 1952). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. pp. 56–57.
  23. ^ Mulraney, Frances (March 19, 2020). "Is The Quiet Man misogynistic and outdated?". Irish Central. Retrieved May 2, 2021.
  24. ^ "The Quiet Man (1952)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 9, 2023.
  25. ^ Gallagher, Tag (1986). John Ford: The Man and his Films. University of California Press. p. 499.
  26. ^ "Comedian Tops Film Poll". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. December 28, 1952. p. 4. Retrieved August 12, 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  27. ^ "The 25th Academy Awards | 1953". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  28. ^ "Winners & Nominees 1953". Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  29. ^ "Awards / History / 1952". Retrieved October 22, 2020.