John Ford: Dreaming “The Quiet Man” Blu-ray Review
Everything you need to know about film director John Ford is in this next sentence: Nominated for the Best Director Academy Award five times, he won four of them! The only year he didn’t win, his work on STAGECOACH was overshadowed by a little film called GONE WITH THE WIND. He won the award for his work on the following films: THE INFORMANT, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY and, finally, for what was undoubtedly his most favorite and personal film, THE QUIET MAN. The new documentary, JOHN FORD: DREAMING THE QUIET MAN, gives a look inside the man and his love for his mother-country.
To call Ford reclusive is an understatement. He is quoted as once saying, “The truth about my life is nobody’s business but my own.” Director Peter Bogdanovich made a documentary about the man which consisted mostly of Bogdanovich asking questions while Ford sits quietly, cigar in his mouth, seemingly not to hear them. Perhaps he was reluctant to talk about his career but there was nothing he was more proud of then his Irish heritage.
Born Sean Aloysius Kilmartin O’Feeny, John Ford tried for 20 years to get the film THE QUIET MAN made. From before his first great success with STAGECOACH through the battles of World War II, Ford continued to promote his dream project. He followed his brother, Sean, to Hollywood in the early 1920s and found that, because of a lot of anti-Irish sentiment, it was best to change his name. Having been denied entrance into the armed forces during World War I because of his eyesight, he offered his services as a front line filmmaker in World War II. After the war he again tried to get THE QUIET MAN off the ground. His long-time friend (and star), John Wayne, took it to the head of the studio he was under contract for, Republic. The studio told Ford they would make the film, in both Technicolor and on location, if he would do the film RIO GRANDE quickly and inexpensively. Ford did as asked, the film was a success and soon he and the crew were heading to the village of Cong in Ireland.
JOHN FORD: DREAMING THE QUIET MAN takes a fine, behind-the-scenes look not only at the making of the film but at the village of Cong itself. Today it is a bustling tourist attraction, where THE QUIET MAN locations are visited by thousands of people yearly. The locals are not only proud of the film but of their heritage, noting that most of the cast and crews hired locally were family. “It’s really just like one big home movie,” one extra recalls. Scenes from the film are interspliced with current shots of the locations used, as well as great commentary from, among others, the still beautiful Maureen O’Hara, Martin Scorsese and John Wayne’s daughter, Aissa. If you’ve already seen THE QUIET MAN, this film is a great companion piece. If you haven’t…what are you waiting for?
Video: Presented mostly in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio (some of the archival footage is shot differently), the film transfer is not as sharp as I’d like, but considering you’re dealing with source material that’s over 60 years old, beggars can’t be choosers.
Audio: The soundtrack is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and is well mixed. As this film was co-produced by the Irish Film Commission, you may have to strain a little to pick up some of the more heavier brogues in the dialog.
Maureen O’Hara Interview (8:13): More comments from the great actress.
The Story Behind “The Quiet Man” Costumes (3:46): talks about Ford’s quest for authenticity and looks at the local family who created them.
Maureen Coyne Cashman – A “Quiet Man” Extra (1:55): A quick peek at one of the films’ extras.
“The Quiet Man” Sheepdog (00:39): A quick chat with a man whose family owned the sheepdog featured in the film.
May Murphy Upstages John Wayne in “The Quiet Man:” (1:34): A look at the little girl who interrupted a take during filming.
Jack Heanue and John Daly on the Horse Race Sequence (2:41): A chat with two locals about one of the film’s many scenes.
The Annual “Quiet Man” Fan Club Celebration (1:55): A visit to an annual get-together featuring look alike contests and dancing.