"He's a nice, quiet, peace-loving man, come home to Ireland to forget his troubles. Sure, yes, yes, he's a millionare, you know, like all the Yanks. But he's eccentric - ooh, he is eccentric! Wait 'til I show ya... his bag to sleep in - a sleeping bag, he calls it! Here, let me show you how it operates."
• The Quiet Man, John Ford, 1952
What is the best John Wayne movie ever made?
I know what you must be thinking "He made so many great movies, it's impossible to pick just one!". Well I agree with you lad, it tis a tough question, though with an easy answer, the 1952 John Ford classic, The Quiet Man. Four reasons:
Directed by John Ford.
Its cast includes Wayne's most iconic costar, Maureen O'Hara.
To me, John Wayne is the quintessential American. The strong silent type. Live and let live. As he said in his last movie The Shootist "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them". And in this movie he exemplifies all those virtues, playing an ex-boxer who killed a man in the ring and therefore is reluctant to fight outside of it.
You can visit the set, as this movie was filmed in an actual Irish village, that today remains largely unchanged.
The movie is set in the quintessential Irish village (at least to Americans), which by the end is known so well to the viewer that it actually becomes another character. The village of Innisfree is actually played by the village of Cong, County Mayo, which when visited is every bit as charming.
The village itself is better covered in the afteractionreport.info blog entry, so I will focus on one particular scene in the movie. It won't be a spoiler, to tell you that the movie builds up to a fight between the Duke and his brother-in-law, played by Victor McLaglen, that is so anticipated that one villager¹ bounds out of his death bed and runs to the sound of it. And with my brother-in -law's assistance, the location was as easily discovered as it was photographed.
March 16, 2016
Innisfree - 1952
Cong - March 16, 2016
¹ The revenant in question was played by John Ford's older brother Francis Joseph Feeney (stage name: Francis Ford). He was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and of over 400 films, as well as directing numerous films. An unpublished memoir titled "Up and Down the Ladder" is filled with bitter and sometimes heartrending complaints about how old-timers who had helped create the industry had been shunted aside by younger men. Sometimes things never change.