The Quiet Man is A National Treasure
By June Parker Beck, Contributor
February / March 2014
There was much rejoicing among Golden-Age film lovers on December 18, 2013, when they learned that the classic 1952 John Ford film The Quiet Man was officially added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Each year the organization selects 25 movies that have the largest number of supporters by way of campaigns and petitions.
Devoted Quiet Man fans can now be assured that their favorite film is properly recognized as an important cinematic treasure and that it will be preserved and protected for generations to come. In a statement offered from her home in Boise, Idaho, Maureen O’Hara said, “I am overjoyed that the Library of Congress has inducted The Quiet Man into its National Film Registry. It was the thrill of our lives for John Ford, John Wayne, myself, and everyone to make it. I had never seen Ireland more majestic than she was that summer in 1951. It was the first time she would ever be captured in technicolor and we all knew while we were making it that the real star of The Quiet Man would be Ireland herself – and she truly is.
“I loved playing Mary Kate Danaher. I liked the hell and fire in her. The Quiet Man is my favorite of all the pictures I made. I love it so much because it was the first great movie about Ireland, made her look wonderful, and shared her customs and traditions with the rest of the world. Yet I believe it has become a classic and endured for over sixty years because it’s a simple and timeless story about people in love. Thank you for preserving this cinematic treasure for all future generations. May its message of love endure throughout the ages.”
O’Hara and John Wayne were romantic leads on screen and became life-long friends when the cameras weren’t rolling, which is why on May 23, 2013, at the age of 92, Maureen boarded a plane to make a sentimental journey to the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in the rural community of Winterset, Iowa. It was her first visit to the landmark and she was invited as the honored guest for their annual John Wayne Birthday celebration fundraiser to support the museum.
“He was the softest, kindest warmest, most loyal human being I’ve ever known,” Maureen said of Wayne. Her late brother, Charles FitzSimons had his own analysis of the couple’s lusty appeal: “Their chemistry was unique for two reasons…Wayne was a big man, he was physically powerful and he had no qualms about his abilities as a man or his masculinity, and it came across. He was a believable male! Maureen was the female version of that. She didn’t have to put on coquettish airs or she didn’t have to try to be a sex pot. The same thing came through from her naturally and when these two [interacted] you had a fantastic situation, and that’s why they were such an incredible team!”
Wayne was often questioned about his association with the fiery O’Hara, and his favorite answer was always, ‘“O’Hara? The greatest guy I ever knew.”
When Maureen arrived in Winterset, with her grandson Conor FitzSimons, his wife Elga, their children Everest and Baylee, and her nephew Charles FitzSimons, she received a Hollywood royal welcome with red-carpet treatment for the next three days as the town buzzed with Wayne/O’Hara related activities. The visit concluded with a dinner attended by over 800 guest, who were audibly delighted when Maureen took the microphone to speak about her dear friend. She was interrupted repeatedly by applause and ended her remarks by returning returningWayne’s compliment, “John Wayne was a helluva guy.”
It was writer Laura Bynum who, upon discoveing that The Quiet Man wasn’t part of the National Film registry, began a campaign to have her favoirte movie included.
In a conversation with Laura, she revealed that the task was not without its challenges. She began in the summer of 2012 with a Facebook campaign, reaching out to fans of O’Hara, Wayne, and John Ford, as well as classic film lovers and hibernophiles. Patrick McCormick, head of the White O’Morn Foundation, the Quiet Man cottage restoration group, was particularly instrumental in helping to get the word out through his many contacts in Ireland and the U.S. She also reached out to the members of the voting board and began a letter writing campaign to directors in Hollywood.
“The film had so many fans who were willing to carry the ball a little further down the field and keep the momentum going,” she said. The thing she hadn’t anticipated in all of this was just how The Quiet Man had emotionally affected so many people.
By the end of Laura’s campaign, the Facebook page she created had over 2,000 likes from across the world. “The film is loved the world over,” she said, “and my experience with this effort has proven to me that film is a unifying thing.”
Now that the film is part of the National Registry, The Quiet Man truly is a “Happily Ever After” story.
June Parker Beck is the founder and editor of the online publication Maureen O’Hara Magazine and its accompanying Facebook page. Since 1991 she has written extensively on the many dimensions of Maureen O’Hara and her relationship to Ireland. You can visit Maureen O’Hara Magazine at: moharamagazine.com, or visit the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Maureen-OHara-Magazine-on-Facebook-Official-Site/131269913567989.