The Quiet Man
Blarney and bliss, mixed in equal proportions. John Wayne plays an American boxer who returns to the Emerald Isle, his native land. What he finds there is a fiery prospective spouse (Maureen O'Hara) and a country greener than any Ireland seen before or since--it's no surprise The Quiet Man won an Oscar for cinematography. It also won an Oscar for John Ford's direction, his fourth such award. The film was a deeply personal project for Ford (whose birth name was Sean Aloysius O'Fearna), and he lavished all of his affection for the Irish landscape and Irish people on this film. He also stages perhaps the greatest donnybrook in the history of movies, an epic fistfight between Wayne and the truculent Victor McLaglen--that's Ford's brother, Francis, as the elderly man on his deathbed who miraculously revives when he hears word of the dustup. Barry Fitzgerald, the original Irish elf, gets the movie's biggest laugh when he walks into the newlyweds' bedroom the morning after their wedding, and spots a broken bed. The look on his face says everything. The Quiet Man isn't the real Ireland, but as a delicious never-never land of Ford's imagination, it will do very nicely. --Robert Horton
The last and least memorable of John Ford's famous cavalry trilogy (following Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), Rio Grande nonetheless has an interesting continuity about the gentlemanly rules of military conduct. Here the focus is on the family. While creating a heated controversy over his handling of the Apache war, John Wayne must also contend with disgruntled wife Maureen O'Hara and estranged son Claude Jarman Jr., a new recruit trying to earn his father's love and respect. Ford seems to suggest that there are two conflicting codes of honor in every cavalry officer's life, the personal as well as the professional, and that it takes an act of heroism to maintain both. It's fascinating to observe Wayne's progression throughout the trilogy, as his personal stakes intensify. Also, this is the first of five onscreen appearances between the Duke and O'Hara, each filled with a competitive spirit and stormy sexuality. --Bill Desowitz
Double bill of classic John Ford films starring 'Big Leggy' John Wayne. In classic Wayne vehicle 'The Quiet Man' (1952), Ford exploits every Irish-American stereotype of the day with aplomb. Sean Thornton (Wayne) is an Irish-American boxer who refuses to fight again after a traumatic bout. But when love intervenes he is forced to return to the ring to win the heart and hand of local girl Mary Kate (Maureen O'Hara), whose brother, squire Red Will Danaher (Victor McLaglan), objects to the match. 'Rio Grande' (1950) is the third and final part of John Ford's trilogy detailing the post Civil War period, following in the footsteps of 'Fort Apache' and 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon'. Lieutenant Kirby Yorke (Wayne) is stationed at a remote cavalry post, at which his son, Jeff, enlists in order to prove himself to his father. Yorke's ex-wife (Maureen O'Hara) arrives to fetch her son back, but her love for Kirby is rekindled amidst much family tension.