Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Quiet Man (1952)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Quiet Man (1952)

In Republic Pictures' and Best-Director winning John Ford's Irish romantic comedy about a fiery 'Taming of the Shrew' relationship (a fairy-tale romance in lush Technicolor) between an American and a red-haired Irish lass, with incredible color cinematography emphasizing the lush green countryside of Ireland:

  • in the film's opening, American ex-boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) after retiring - ("a Yankee from Pittsburgh") - returned to his native boyhood Irish home (in the town of Inisfree) by train on a Saturday - to escape his past; he was transported in the carriage of match-making, impish leprechaun-like Michaeleen Flynn (Barry Fitzgerald)
  • along the way, he caught sight of a red-haired, poor shepherd girl, a feisty spinster named Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara), as she tended a flock of sheep in an emerald-green grassy area; he asked himself: "Hey, is that real? She couldn't be"; he met her the next day at the entrance of the church with a palm full of holy water - and was politely reprimanded by Michaeleen: "Who taught you to be playin' patty fingers in the Holy Water?"; Sean was also cautioned about having a romantic interest in her: "Her with her freckles and her temper. Oh, that red head of hers is no lie. Still, a man might put up with that, but not with her lack of a fortune"
First Views of Redhead Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara)
At the Entrance of the Church
Tending Sheep
  • Sean's intention was to purchase his ancestral Thornton home - a cottage (known as 'White O Mornin') owned by the town's well-respected, wealthy widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick); she was being courted by Squire 'Red' Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), Mary Kate's rough, bullying, grudge-holding older brother who also desired the property; however, after a disagreement between them over his big-mouth in the local pub ("in front of all those big ears, with pints in their fists and pipes in their mouths"), the widow spitefully agreed to sell the home to Sean Thornton for 600 pounds (bid up to 1,000) instead - setting up a film-long conflict between the two (Will: "I've got you down in my book!")
  • during a wild and breezy windstorm, Sean entered his newly-purchased thatched cottage where a fire burned; Mary Kate (who was cleaning the cottage out of her Christian duty) was flushed out from hiding in the bedroom and rushed for the front door, but he reached for her right arm, pulled her back, twirled her like a ballet dancer into the cottage, twisted her arm behind her back as she resisted, and then bent the stranger over backwards with an embrace and fiercely passionate kiss; when she realized what had happened, she stood back, reflected about his bold advances, and then cocked her fist back for an explosive, powerful swing at his face - he flinched, bent backward, and shielded his face with his hand to block the stiff-armed blow as she missed; she called him out: "So bold one you are. Who gave you leave to be kissin me?"
  • Sean explained how he was so taken by her: "Some things a man doesn't get over so easily....Like the sight of a girl comin' through the fields, with the sun on her hair. Kneeling in church, with a face like a saint....And now, comin' to a man's house to clean it for him"; with equal passion, she then gazed at him for a few seconds, opened the door to leave (unleashing the wind again), turned toward him, boldly and daringly planted a kiss on his lips, and fled into the wild night
First Two Kisses
  • the formal rules of courtship in the land dictated that drunken matchmaker Michaeleen Flynn had to formally present Sean Thornton's proposal of marriage to Mary Kate (he simplified the legalese: "He wants to know if you go for it"); reportedly, Sean did not care about her lack of fortune or poverty: "He says it's a matter of complete indifference to him...He says it's all one to him if you come in the clothes on your back, or without them for that matter"; Mary Kate refused to give up her possessions: "A fine opinion he must have of me, if he thinks I'd go to any man without a proper fortune....When I wed, whatever's my own, goes with me" - she included her furniture, china, linen, an inherited 50 pounds in gold, other family heirlooms from her mother and grandmother, and 30 pounds of her own earned money; she added: "I'm no pauper to be going to him in my shift"; however, she offered her formal response: "Well, you can tell him from me that, that I go for it"
  • the visit of Michaeleen and Sean to Will Danaher to obtain his consent and approval of Mary Kate's courtship and marital intentions, because their father was deceased - he flatly refused: "If he was the last man on the face of the Earth, I'd still say no"; Michaeleen explained: "This is Ireland, Sean, not America. Without her brother's consent, she couldn't and wouldn't. I'm sorry for both of you"
  • the pugnacious relative had to be duped into consenting to their engagement, via a conspiratorial plot devised by townsfolk including Michaeleen, Reverend Playfair (Arthur Shields), and the parish priest Father Lonergan (Ward Bond); Will was led to believe that Sean was competitively courting the widow: (Will was disgusted: "One minute it's me sister, and the next it's herself"); rumors were spread that Will could quickly marry the widow if he let Mary Kate go to marry Sean: "If you got rid of Mary Kate, the widow would be in like a shot...You had your chance and you flubbed it. You refused Seaneen Thornton, and he reneged on you" - the rumored talk was confirmed for Will when Sean crossed the finish line at the Inisfree Races - a local cross-country horse race, and chose the widow's bonnet as his trophy; Mary Kate was mortified that hers was the only bonnet not selected
The Inisfree Races Sequence

Conspiratorial Plot Against Will

The Choice of Two Bonnets at the Finish Line
Sean Chose Widow Tillane's Bonnet
  • soon after, Will gave his consent to Sean's and Mary Kate's courtship - "But under the usual conditions" - supervised by Michaeleen; the couple soon escaped on a double bicycle for a ride in the country, while Michaeleen's horse detoured and stopped (from habit) in front of Cohan's Pub
  • in the film's most sensual and romantic sequence between Mary Kate and Sean, they flirtatiously frolicked together through an ancient church, across fields, and then into a graveyard, while another storm threatened; he still thought he was dreaming about her: "If anybody had told me six months ago that today I'd be in a graveyard in Inisfree with a girl like you that I'm just about to kiss, I'd have told him... "; she cautioned that they would have to wait for a kiss: "Oh, but the kiss is a long way off yet" - after courtin', there's the walkin'-out together, the threshin' parties, etc., but Sean refused to wait any longer and she quickly agreed: "I feel the same way about it myself"
Graveyard Kisses in the Rain
  • as they started to embrace each other for a kiss, foregoing a traditional, long-term courtship, a violent, fierce wind thrust a giant green branch in front of them, lightning struck, and they were caught in the rain; Sean's shirt became soaked to the skin as they embraced and clung to each other, as she held her hosiery in her left hand against his drenched chest; her upturned face met his lips for a kiss, and then she rested her right cheek against him; both looked off toward the awesome storm - and their future together, as the soundtrack played the plaintiff Irish ballad: "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"; she initiated a second, more subdued kiss, and then they stared off with solemn expressions in different directions - the scene faded to black
  • a toast was offered at the wedding ceremony for Sean and Mary Kate: ("May their days be long, and full of happiness. May their children be many, and full of health. And may they live in peace, and freedom"); Will Danaher then took the floor to announce his romantic intentions for widow Sarah Tillane; but after learning he had been fooled, he exclaimed to Michaeleen: "Oh, you lied, didn't ya? You lied, didn't ya?" and to Sean: "You got her by fraud and falsity"; he reneged on Mary Kate's promised dowry of 350 Irish pounds and precious heirlooms
  • further major conflict developed between the couple when Mary Kate falsely perceived that Sean wouldn't fight for her dowry and possessions; when Sean was punched and downed by Will, he experienced a disquieting and troubling flashback of his guilty secret - a memory of his last prize fight back in the US, where he was known as "Trooper Thorn" when he killed his opponent in the ring (in his flashback, his dead opponent appeared to be Will Danaher); Sean refused to fight back, thus appearing weak to Mary Kate

(Newspaper Article About Sean's Last Fight)
Troubling Flashback as Boxer "Trooper Thorn"
  • on their wedding night in a very dramatic, argumentative scene in front of the golden glow of the hearth of their new home, Mary Kate stubbornly insisted that she had to have her dowry and possessions; Sean didn't understand her materialistic determination: ("Seems like a lot of fuss and grief over little furniture and stuff"); outside, she told him that she would not consummate her love for him until she had her dowry, and rejected his advances: "Don't touch me. You have no right....Until I've got my dowry safe about me, I'm no married woman. I'm the servant I have always been, without anything of my own...Not until you have my dowry, you haven't got any bit of me. Me, myself!"; she rushed into the house and locked the bedroom door on him; he kicked it open, approached her, aggressively grabbed her by the hair, asserted his dominance ("There will be no locks or bolts between us, except those in your own mercenary little heart"), and forced a kiss; afterwards, he threw her onto the bed (that collapsed) and stormed out of the room
Sean Making Demands on Mary Kate: "There will be no locks or bolts between us..."
  • the next morning, she was overjoyed when her furniture was delivered (her brother's belated "wedding present" after he changed his mind), but the traditional 350 pounds of dowry was still missing, and Mary Kate was furious when Sean was uncaring about it: "Let him have it if it means that much to him"; while shopping later in the day in Castletown, their argument over her 350 pounds persisted, when Mary Kate demanded that Sean demand her money from her brother who was in town; when he refused to bring 'shame,' she called him a coward ("I married a coward...what else if you let him rob you out of my money?")
  • Sean was conflicted about fighting Will Danaher for Mary Kate's 350 pounds - due to his aborted boxing career ("They think I'm afraid of fighting. All the friends I've made, even my wife"), and he felt the money was "not worth fighting for"; he also stated why he wouldn't fight: "I won't fight, unless I'm mad enough to kill"
  • Mary Kate decided to leave town for Dublin by traveling to the Castletown train station (she had told Michaeleen: "I love him too much to go on livin' with a man I'm ashamed of"); Sean pursued her, caught up to her, dragged her out of a train car, and continued to pull her five miles across the fields back to the Danaher farm - with a crowd of spectators following behind them
  • Sean delivered an ultimatum to Will Danaher for Mary Kate's 350 pounds ("Let's have it!"), and when the disapproving Danaher refused to comply ("I'll pay ya - never"), Sean terminated the marriage ("That breaks all bargains. You can take your sister back. It's your custom, not mine. No fortune, no marriage. We call it quits") - but then Danaher relented and relinquished the last bit of Mary Kate's dowry ("There's your dirty money. Take it"); however, Sean didn't really care about the money and proceeded to burn it in the furnace of a threshing machine; both parties won - Mary Kate had at last received her rightful dowry, and Sean kept his self-respect by destroying the money
  • Will Danaher stepped forward to protest the money's destruction - and thus commenced a lengthy, epic marathon, brawl/fist-fight scene in the Irish town - all the way from the Danaher farm to the village; spectators eagerly bet on the odds during the donnybrook; ultimately, the two exhausted opponents gained respect for each other and shared more drinks in the local pub: (Danaher: "You know, Yank. I've taken quite a likins to you" Sean: "I'm gettin' real fond of you, too"); Will was even invited into Sean's house for supper prepared by Mary Kate
Sean vs. Will

Fist-Fight Brawl

Drinks in the Pub
  • in the film's tranquil and satisfying conclusion, Will Danaher and the Widow Tillane were courting each other, and Mary Kate whispered a sexy secret in Sean's ear while beckoning him to join her in the cottage

Arrival of Sean Thornton (John Wayne)

Michaeleen Flynn
(Barry Fitzgerald) with Sean

Widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick)

The Sale of Ancestral Home to Sean, Bypassing 'Red' Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen)

Presentation and Acceptance of Formal Request to Marry

Will's Refusal to Give His Consent

Heartbroken and Tearful After Her Brother's Denial of Permission to Marry

Courtship Approved - Although Supervised

Marriage Ceremony

The Widow Tillane's Rejection of Will Danaher

Mary Kate's Dowry of 350 Pounds Swept Onto the Floor

Sean Knocked To the Floor

Mary Kate: "Don't Touch Me!"

Mary Kate to Sean: "I married a coward"

Dragging Mary Kate Off the Dublin-bound Train and to the Danaher Farm

Demanding Mary Kate's 350 Pounds: "Let's have it!"

Burning the Dowry Money

Will Danaher Courting the Widow Tillane

Ending: Mary Kate's Sexy Secret to Sean Outside Their Cottage


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