Thursday, March 25, 2010

'The Quiet Man' Open Thread


  1. Oh, geez, I didn't see this until now!

  2. I heard about the big slumber party you are getting together. April seems really taken with this show...firefly. Might be fun.

    Anyways, this is another movie that is best watched on a night with a little rain, what my relatives would call a 'soft night'. It rains a lot here in Oregon, and so it does in Ireland as well, but never very hard, so I felt right at home with this expression.

  3. a soft night That's lovely. And I know right away what kind of rain you mean. My grandparents had a house on Cape Cod, and I would sometimes get one of the upstairs bedrooms under the eaves. (Too bad I didn't know about counting the beams as a kid!) I can still remember how comforting it felt to be surrounded by a soft, steady summer rain.

    I used to visit Seattle and Tacoma quite a bit for a few years, long, long ago. Is that what the weather is like in Oregon?

    Firefly is a fun show, and since it was cancelled pretty quickly, there were questions that I'm hoping are addressed in the movie Serenity. It will be interesting to see what kind of viewing we end up with!

    I hope The Quiet Man shows up tomorrow.

  4. Well, what a nice, quiet story. It holds a lot of feeling for my family. An American who has come back home to Ireland touches the heart. I could imagine being that person - all of us could. Well, I wont say much at this point, except to say that I loved the detail of the minor characters, and all the little stories running about which gave the town itself a real feel - the train that runs late, the pastor who is valued and cherished by the town, and yet has no real parish because everyone there is Catholic, the railway men willing to fight over their memory of which team last won a championship, the village priest who is a source of guidance and wisdom for the community, even though it is not always clear how good and peaceable a man he is, all fleshes it out. When he remembers Sean's family..

    "And your grandfather.. who died in Australia... in a Penal colony"

    at first you are thinking it is a word against his family

    ... and your father, he was a fine man too. Bad accident, that'

    And you realize that being sent off by the English to die in a penal colony in Australia is actually a fine recommendation, and is what might happen to good men of courage, and is a reflection of the long struggle Ireland has had under the loving boot of the English. That is why you will hear Mickeleen speaking of going to the pub to 'talk a little treason.' And the loving references made to the virtue of freedom.

    But it is John Wayne that I enjoyed the most watching this movie. I had seen him in a number of Westerns, where especially in later years he plays a larger than life tough as nails cowboy. But here we see he plays a very real character with depth and feeling, who is both direct and conflicted, strong and gentle. My favorite scene was of him walking home after his bride jilted him in town, because she was angry with him for not asking her hard nosed brother for the money she was due. I loved that scene, kicking rocks, breaking wood, throwing down whatever was at hand.

    Good stuff.

  5. You know, this movie makes a lot more sense when you see it from the beginning!

    Of course, I loved the minor characters. Much more comical than the 'locals' in I Know Where I'm Going, but that matches the rather 'tall tale' feeling to much of this movie. All the characters are so large, so grand -- even little Michaeleen -- and John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara are so perfect together. I can't imagine any actress that could better match his mass with her energy.

    The central conflicts in the story all rise from the differences in culture -- we all think we know what another's actions "mean" based on our own experiences and expectations -- and the issue over Mary Kate's dowry might not be the most extreme these two characters would encounter in their marriage.

    I loved, loved, loved, that the resolution respected both characters' points of view. He doesn't want money to ever become so important in his life again, as it was when he killed a man in the ring: she doesn't want to spend her life with someone who lets her brother bully him out of his legal rights, and hers. So when the money is finally in Sean's hands, they throw it, together, into the fire. My absolute favorite moment of the movie. (Madness, of course, but they've reached a perfect understanding.)

    And the little moments scattered throughout! Michaeleen looking at the broken bed: "Impetuous. (pause) Homeric." The priest, when they're working on the Widow Tillane con, and Will Danaher looks to him for confirmation: "Well, I can't say that it's true; but I won't say that it isn't. But there's been talk." (For all his trying so hard not to lie, still he's given penance to do -- by Michaeleen!) And when Sean is dragging Mary Kate back from the train station, and I was starting to feel really uncomfortable about how abusive it was getting -- she pops up a takes a massive swing at him! OK, OK, she's going to be fine.

    Perhaps the best was not comical -- that beautiful, even somber, wedding toast. For that moment we are reminded that life, marriage, all we value, are real, and need to be both honored and protected.

    I like the way you described John Wayne in this: a very real character with depth and feeling, who is both direct and conflicted, strong and gentle. Lovely.

    Something I can't quite decide what to think about -- maybe this is just an issue of the difference between then and now, maybe it's the limitation of the female perspective -- but I don't know that the (implied?) advice from Rev. Playfair, that Sean should fight it out with Danaher, seems right. Sean never wants to risk killing anyone again -- is this his "getting back on the horse" opportunity?

    And the scenery in this, some of the long shots of the cottage and the fields all around, the cross-country route that Sean rides on the hunter -- too beautiful. I wonder if the sky is still that blue.

  6. Phew, it is fun to come back here and get away from all the political brouhaha.

    Wasn't that a pleasant movie. And it twas like a little visit to Ireland - such lovely countryside. I was struck with how gentle Sean was with Mary Kate. She was a hard woman to deal with, and there was much that went unsaid. I think it would behoove a woman to appreciate the aspects of a man that may be present but that do not immediately present themselves as his meeting her desires, which was nicely illustrated when Mary Kate asks "What sort of a man am I married to?" to which one of the young men answer "A far better one than you are aware of, Mary Kate", which was true.

    Yes, you have summed it up nicely, with a great deal of trouble coming from the fact that Sean is not familiar nor comfortable with Irish customs. But a great deal of the trouble stemmed from the past experiences of each of the characters. For Sean it was plain enough, the death of a fellow prize fighter at his hands, causing the loss of a husband to his wife and the loss of the father to his two children, it was a heavy burden to bear and he traveled a long way to get away from the past and forget his former life. For Mary Kate, she is passed over and forgotten, of little worth, little more than a servant at the home of her brother. But all the while she had hopes and dreams, to have her own home and her own family, to be cared for and loved, and to have her children about her.

    The dowry was negotiated at the start of the courting. Micheleen asked for 500 pounds, Will Danaher countered with 350, and the deal was closed when Micheleen accepted with the word "Done!" So that was it. It was her dowry, and it underscored the fact that she was valuable. For Will Danaher not to give it up, on account that he was tricked and cheated, was to treat her as the servant she had always felt to be.

    Sean's meeting with the Reverend Playfair allowed him a chance to air out his feelings, which the Reverend admitted were very understandable. But the fact of the matter was that Sean was married to Mary Kate now, and she had to be considered first. It may seem odd to some, but I think it to be right. Sean needed to place his principles secondary to the well-being of his wife.

    I loved the way the reverend helped to guide him, assuring him that he would come upon the right answer, in good time. Then offering him a drink, and correcting himself with "Oh no, you'd be in training now."

    He awakes to find that she had left him, and there she was waiting at the train, hoping he would come get her. Now he is playing by their rules, and he roughly takes her back to her brother, saying not paying the dowry breaks their agreement..."It's your rules, not mine", and of course you know the rest.

    She was worth all the dowry, and much more. She was worth breaking the vow he had made himself, she was worth fighting for, if need be. And of course he was far more important to her than the money.

    Well, those are my thoughts. Thanks for your comments, and let me know when you would like to do another.

  7. "Oh no, you'd be in training now."

    And the look on Sean's face! It would have been funny, if it hadn't been so serious.

    For Mary Kate, she is passed over and forgotten, of little worth, little more than a servant at the home of her brother. But all the while she had hopes and dreams, to have her own home and her own family, to be cared for and loved, and to have her children about her.

    Oh, exactly! And those "things" that meant so much to her, those things that were hers, from her mother, and grandmother, were more than just belongings she could enjoy, or be proud of. They were the tangible proof of what she needed to believe -- that she was not merely chattel transfered from one man's ownership to another, but a wife, a helpmeet, a partner (OK, a junior partner) who brought value to the marriage.

    You noted that it is one of the friends who suggests Sean is "a better man" than Mary Kate recognizes, and I think that's a key element in this movie -- both Sean and Mary Kate are willing to allow the possibility that they're wrong, and are open to, and seek out, better understanding from people they respect.

    As for doing another, the one-movie-a-week rule is fine by me. (You have been doing some wonderful stuff on the regular blog, BTW.) Do you have any druthers? I've got a couple of Hitchcocks in my queue, and there are also the Humphrey Bogart movies you mentioned a while ago (all of which are great, and I haven't seen in I-don't-kmow-how-long, and Netflix lists all three as DVDs), and the Jane Austens, or anything else that may have come to mind! Your picks have been great.

  8. "I think that's a key element in this movie -- both Sean and Mary Kate are willing to allow the possibility that they're wrong, and are open to, and seek out, better understanding from people they respect."

    You're good.

  9. My choice would be for you to pick a movie that you have seen, say three years ago or longer, that you thought was very good, and for the movie club to watch it again and comment.

    Now, what might that movie be?

  10. Well... I was all excited to nominate Gaslight, but when I checked Netflix the availability was "unknown" (Huh?), so there may be too much overhead to do that next. So,

    How about The Thin Man? William Powell, Myrna Loy, Pure Fun. (And the dog Asta.)

  11. Cathy, these are films that you have seen? I may have seen a bit of The Thin Man, but just a glimpse.

    Alright then, The Thin Man.