"Is she real? She couldn't be!"
And "real" she was, our Mary Kate Danaher, when she first laid eyes on young Sean Thornton in that picturesque meadow in Ireland. The cult followers of "The Quiet Man" would challenge any scene in cinema history to be quite as glorious as the sight of Mary Kate, herding her sheep in a breathtaking panorama of shades green with shafts of sunlight flowing through the trees. Add to this the musical score of Victor Young and the scene takes you at once to Ireland and the romance about to unfold.
John Ford had a way of making a scene into an almost surreal painting. The lighting, the color, less dialogue and placing more emphasis on the camera capturing the facial expression/emotion of the actor. How could you look at the scene capture above and not feel the electricity generated by these actors. Many a movie critic, fellow actor, director, et al. were very puzzled that Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne did not win Oscars for their performances as well as the film being named as best picture. For the record, the winners in 1952 were "The Greatest Show On Earth" (long since faded into oblivion) for best picture - Gary Cooper won best actor for "High Noon" Shirley Booth won best actress for "Come Back Little Sheba. An odd combination of winners and after 46 years it is "The Quiet Man" that remains the winner. And maybe, after all is said and done, that is what is really important.
Back on the set - A handsomer group you'll never find!
A family affair - Maureen's brother James (Father Paul) - Maureen, Duke,
and her brother Charles on the TQM set.
Photo compliments of Paddy McCormick. (Paddy journeyed to London to the British
Film Institute to obtain copies of many wonderful black and white stills such as this).
1951- Maureen relaxes between scenes of TQM
(photo courtesy Des McHale)
TQM Publicity stills of Mary Kate and Sean Thornton -
The "hug" picture is my favorite because I think this pose embodies their
long and durable friendship, their energy, their chemistry and their love for one another.
As Maureen herself has said, their kind of brother-sister relationship was very special.
A Few Facts About Filming of TQM
All of the interiors of TQM were filmed in Hollywood and all of the exterior shots were done in Ireland. There were exceptions, of course, like some of the scenes shot at the cottage after the wedding. Likewise, the kissing/storm sequence in the cemetery was done in Hollywood. The visit of Rev. and Mrs. Playfair was done in front of the actual cottage. A family by the name of "Joyce" was living in the cottage at the time. Likewise, Will Danaher's home was occupied and the family had to accommodate the film company by staying away from the windows, etc., during times they were shooting.
The wonderful scene where an angry Sean Thornton is walking home after an argument with Mary Kate and and all these seagulls fly into the air about him as he crosses a meadow was actually instigated by Maureen. They were between scenes and she noticed the gulls and suggested to Ford that if Duke walked through them they would take flight and it would make a good shot. Ford hurridly set it up and sure enough, the flurry of gulls took flight with grace and beauty that added tremendously to the panoramic scene.
To me, that the very final scene of Sean and Mary Kate running to the cottage in the distance is truly one of the film's most romantic scenes. The movie "The Quiet Man" begins and ends with almost perfect beauty and artistry. In between you have romance, action and the beauty of Ireland and one of its greatest gifts to America, Maureen FitzSimons Blair (O'Hara).
My Special Page on "Making of The Quiet Man"
Have a visit to my pages composed after my trip to Ireland in 1999 where I met with Paddy McCormick and Prof. Des McHale , They took me on a grand first class tour of the sites where "The Quiet Man" was filmed. It is an experience I shan't soon forget. Their kindness was overwhelming and in a million years I could never thank them enough.