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THE QUIET MAN

John Wayne has appeared in so many great movies, that to is difficult to say that any one film is better than another. However, THE QUIET MAN ($25) is such a magical motion picture, I canít help but rate it as one of Wayneís very best. In addition to being one of Wayneís best, THE QUIET MAN it may be the most successful collaboration between Wayne and director John Ford- a collaboration that includes legendary films such as STAGECOACH, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, THE SEARCHERS and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. However, unlike the others, THE QUIET MAN is a more personal film allowed the director to express his love of Ireland and the Irish people.

In THE QUIET MAN, John Wayne portrays Sean Thornton, a son of Ireland who grew up in America, and decides to return to the village where he was born. Upon his return, Sean purchases the home of his birth, which runs afoul of Red Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who also had his eye on the property. Of course, the situation doesnít get any better when Sean decides to court Red Willís fiery sister (Mary Kate Maureen O'Hara). With the aid of the townís official matchmaker, Michaleen Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald) and a few other local conspirators, Red Will becomes convinced that his own romantic intentions for the widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick) have been rebuffed because his sister still lives in his home. Hoping to quickly divest himself of his sister, Red Will gives Sean permission to court and wed Mary Kate.

Unfortunately, on the day of the nuptials, Red Will expresses his romantic intentions for the widow- and finds himself rebuffed once again. Blaming Sean for the trickery of the others, Red Will refuses to pay Mary Kateís dowry. As an American, Sean is unconcerned about the money, but Mary Kateís life is steeped in Irish tradition and refuses to be a true wife to Sean until the dowry is paid. Mary Kate comes to believe that Sean is a coward since he refuses to fight for her dowry; unaware of the tragedy in Seanís past that keeps him from raising a hand to anyone.

The pleasures of THE QUIET MAN lay in how director John Ford tells his simple, romantic story, while at the same time showing off the beauty of Ireland and the charm of the Irish people. Ford found the pot of gold under the rainbow when he insisted that THE QUIET MAN be filmed in a small Irish village. The authenticity that THE QUIET MAN displays makes it one of the most unique films to be produced in the 1950ís, a time when the "back lot" stood in for every conceivable place on the planet. There is a reason Ireland is called the Emerald Isle, and I doubt the movie would have been one tenth as green had it be shot in America. The cast of THE QUIET MAN features Ward Bond, Francis Ford, Eileen Crowe, May Craig, Arthur Shields, Charles B. Fitzsimons and James Lilburn.

As good a movie as THE QUIET MAN is, I wish the DVD was a whole lot better. THE QUIET MAN is one of the movies that Artisan Home Entertainment acquired from Republic Pictures, when they folded their video division. The 1.33:1 transfer of THE QUIET MAN used for the DVD looks as if it has been floating around Republic for a few years and doesnít show off the film to its best advantage. In fact, after looking at this transfer, one would never know that THE QUIET MAN earned an Academy Award for its gorgeous Technicolor cinematography. While it is better than VHS, this transfer of THE QUIET MAN provides a consistently soft image that is nowhere as good as what DVD can deliver. Colors sometimes display the saturation that made the IB Technicolor process famous, although this transfer renders them fuzzy and bleeding beyond their boundaries. At other times, the Technicolor hues appear somewhat faded. Additionally, the image lacks any sort of depth, appearing very flat throughout the presentation. Digital compression artifacts do not degrade the image any further. Is this presentation of THE QUIET MAN watchable? Yes. Would anyone choose to watch it more than once? No. THE QUIET MAN is a film classic that deserves a far better presentation of DVD. Artisan Home Entertainment has proven that they are capable of producing DVDs with astounding image quality. With a brand new transfer, I know that Artisan could produce a first rate DVD edition of THE QUIET MAN.

The DVDís Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack does show signs of age, but it is nowhere as disappointing as the video. Like any early 1950s soundtrack, the frequency range of the sound is limited, although dialogue reproduction is always clear.

The interactive menus are basic, but provide access to the standard scene selection feature, as well as the DVD supplements. Leonard Maltin host The Making Of The Quiet Man, which runs approximately thirty minutes and proves to be almost as entertaining as the film itself. The DVD also includes a theatrical trailer.

As I said above, Artisan Home Entertainment is capable of producing a much better DVD edition of THE QUIET MAN, letís hope it happens soon.

 
THE QUIET MAN 



 

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DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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