The Courting of Mary O'Donnel
"The Long Gray Line" featured a very impressive cast, most of whom were Ford favorites and had worked together before - Donald Crisp, Sean McClory, Harry Carey, Jr., Ward Bond, and Patrick Wayne. Martin Maher (Tyrone Power), an Irish immigrant began is career at West Point as a waiter. Not being terribly adept at this job, Marty reportedly broke so many dishes that he was forced to join the Army to repay his debts. However his patriotism to his new country and sense of humor carried him through a career that spanned over 50 years and 2 world wars. He was a motivating individual and in his own way a hero to those who knew him.
Like any great man, there is usually an equally great woman beside him. Mary O'Donnel, (Maureen O'Hara) was also an immigrant from the Emerald Isle and hired as cook and housekeeper to chief instructor Ward Bond and his wife. Of course the couple were inevitably to meet and Marty was immediately smitten. The courting of Mary O'Donnell is quite amusing. This marvelous Irish couple share their values and their love with all who surround them. It's a beautiful story, told as only John Ford could tell it.
Note: John Wayne was originally to have the part of Marty Maher, but he was involved in another film project at the time. Knowing that if you "suggested" anything to John Ford, he would do just the opposite, Maureen cleverly guided Ford toward consideration of her friend Tyrone Power and Power was cast in the title role.
The courting of Mary O'Donnell was not an easy task. She gave a new dimension to the phrase, "hard to get"
I have often wondered if the green icing on this cake was Ford's idea
As newly weds the Mahers do a little match-making of their own
Honor, dedication and patriotism reign supreme
Mary's pride in her Marty and their part of West Point and America
"The Blessing"of the house with Marty's father and brother who have come from Ireland
Maureen puts her knowledge of the Irish into play for this scene as she says the blessing in Gaelic.
Mary and Marty suffer the loss of what would be their only child.
Here they watch through the hospital window as cadets march by, knowing their son
will never be among them. A very sad scene.
On the brighter side Maureen gets to kiss her share of cadets in this film with a goodbye
for Patrick Wayne and a kiss of celebration at the war's end.
Sending the cadets they have come to know and love off to war
is a very difficult thing to do.
The story spans 50 years and many warm and tender moments
in the lives of Marty and Mary Maher.
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