The Quiet Man (1952)

the quiet manJohn Wayne goes to Ireland and tries not to punch people.


With St. Patrick’s Day almost upon us, I thought this was a solid choice. It’s packed full of all kinds of Irish-ness, including a few lines of Gaelic.

And while the Hollywood portrayal of Ireland is probably more idealized than reality, the experience feels real enough for people like me, whose interaction with the Irish has been limited to reruns of Riverdance on PBS and a brief but heartfelt relationship with a leprechaun pen-pal named Fitzy McMuffinpants, whom I later discovered was my older sister. (Painful memories…I was only 17.)

Like most old movies, much of it is on the slow side, but hang in there because the epic fist fight at the end is worth it. In fact, that climax is probably one of the most famous fight scenes ever recorded.

The Quiet Man was a bit of a risk for John Wayne and director John Ford, both of whom were mostly known for Westerns. Their gamble paid off, though, as the film ended up being a huge success and winning a couple of Oscars, including Best Director for Ford.

This movie also stars a young lass named Maureen O’Hara, whom you might recognize from The Parent Trap, and Barry Fitzgerald, who won an Academy Award for a film he did with Bing Crosby called Going My Way.

And not to go off the rails on the crazy trivia train, but each of the individuals I’ve mentioned thus far (not including McMuffinpants) actually had family members in the movie as well:

  • quiet man john wayneBarry Fitzgerald’s brother, Arthur Shields, plays the Protestant vicar
  • Maureen O’Hara’s younger brothers, James and Charles Fitzsimons, play Father Paul and Hugh Forbes.
  • John Ford’s older brother, Francis Ford, plays the crazy old guy who leaps from his deathbed to watch the fight
  • And John Wayne’s four kids, Michael, Mary, Patrick, and Melinda, are the kids sitting on the fence in the race scene.

I know. Your mind is blown. We are officially off the rails.

OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW:  This is the movie with the kissing scene that E.T. is watching on TV and acts out through Elliot while he’s at school. So yes, it’s safe to say The Quiet Man is the No. 1 catalyst for extra-terrestrials telepathically controlling our children.

I think this film is a great reminder of the importance of temperance — an elusive attribute for many of us. I love this quote by Ulisses Soares:

“Because the natural man dwells within each one of us and because we live in a world full of pressure, controlling our temper may become one of the challenges in our lives.

“Think for a few seconds how you react when someone does not comply with your desires the moment you want them to. What about when people disagree with your ideas, even though you are absolutely sure that they represent the proper solution to a problem? What is your response when someone offends you, critiques your efforts, or is simply unkind because he or she is in a bad mood?

“At these moments and in other difficult situations, we must learn to control our temper and convey our feelings with patience and gentle persuasion. This is most important within our homes and within our relationships with our eternal companions.”

The key to temperance is not letting our emotional pendulums swing too far to the extremes. We must develop both thick skin and soft speech, or in other words, we should try to be less sensitive in our reactions and more sensitive in our responses — especially when it comes to family.

So this week, instead of being quick to anger or offense, let’s try being “the quiet man” (or woman) for a change.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” – 1 Corinthians 9:25

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