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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
The Quiet Man: CE (1952)

"Some things a man doesn't get over so easy."
- Sean Thornton (John Wayne)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 25, 2002

Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald
Other Stars: Ward Bond, Victor McLaglen, Mildred Natwick, Francis Ford, Arthur Shields, Jack McGowran
Director: John Ford

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 02h:09m:10s
Release Date: October 22, 2002
UPC: 017153125283
Genre: romantic comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-D+B- B+

DVD Review

While John Wayne is typically known for his he-man tough guy pictures, as is director John Ford, the pair of them collaborated on this unlikely bit of Irish blarney that features Wayne as a man reluctant to use his fists. The result is one of the great classics of the screen, with comedy, drama and enough brawling to keep even Ford happy in the end.

Sean Thornton (Wayne) is an American from Pittsburgh who comes to his boyhood home in Innisfree, Ireland. He meets and immediately falls for the lovely Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara). But she cannot marry without the consent of her brother, the brawling bruiser Red Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen). Danaher resents Thornton, who purchases his birth cottage, which Danaher had his eyes on. Deception, connived in by the parish priest among others, helps Thornton get past the brother, but he hasn't reckoned with the strong will of Mary Kate and her embarrassment at Sean's unwillingness to fight her brother to retrieve her dowry.

The Quiet Man is dripping with good humor and merriment. Ford's faux Irish will probably rankle those with knowledge of the country, but it plays well enough for theater. Less happy today is peaceable Thornton's apparent willingness to rough up his wife, with the usual knockdown dragouts in the dirt that seem to permeate every of Wayne and O'Hara's collaborations. Wayne does a fine job, however, in a role that demands much more from him than usual. O'Hara is spunky and irresistible with her chiseled good looks and fiery temper. The pair is supported by an excellent cast, including Oscar®-winners Barry Fitzgerald and McLaglen, Ford regular Ward Bond, Mildred Natwick and a young Jack McGowran.

Mary Kate's obsession with her dowry provides an interesting counterpoint to the seriousness of the hidden reason why Thornton has left America. Of course, there's a certain unsavory aspect to her emphasis on money. One can hardly see her without remembering Zasu Pitts in Greed and her obsession with her gold. One presumes that Thornton will prove no McTeague, since he is genuinely uninterested in her money, but the parallel is unmistakeable nonetheless.

Also of interest is the thematic counterpoint of the American and the culture clash with the traditions of the Old Country. This is best exemplified in the courtship of Mary Kate, which is forced into an uncomfortable formality and difficulties due to the need for Red Will to approve of the courtship. Of course, Wayne can hardly be expected to stay within the bounds of formality, and he doesn't, with plenty of exuberance, lending the film much of its humor.

Despite the fairly lengthy running time, there's hardly a moment of fat on the story. All of the pieces fit together seamlessly. Of course, there's shameless sentimentality aplenty, but even the most cynical will hardly be able to stifle a smile by the end of this classic, beautifully shot in Technicolor.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This appears to be the same very shabby transfer that appeared on Artisan's original barebones release. Although the color is good, the picture is smeary to the point of looking like a poor television transmission. Worse yet, there are digital compression artifacts rife throughout the film. The picture has a very unpleasant look to it, spoiling the classic photography. That's truly a shame since this could have been a great disc.

Image Transfer Grade: D+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The original 1.0 mono track sounds quite decent, especially in comparison to the disappointing video. It has a rich quality that is acceptable, with only minimal hiss present. There is an "enhanced audio" track that purports to be 3.1, but there is no LFE present, and hardly any directionality to be heard. The main difference seems to be more prominent foley effects, to the detriment of Victor Young's score. Stick with the 1.0 original, would be my recommendation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Production Notes
2 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Maureen O'Hara
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:38m:57s

Extra Extras:
  1. Montage of scenes
  2. Video trailers
Extras Review: Artisan produces a packed special edition for the picture, which is as deserving of any for the royal treatment. First up is a commentary from star Maureen O'Hara, one of the few participants still living. She occasionally gets involved in the movie herself, resulting in a few silent spots, but she is certainly enthusiastic about the picture. She does tend to spend an inordinate amount of time picking out friends and relatives, but she also includes a great many corrections to various authors who have written about the film, making this an invaluable companion to the picture.

Two significant documentaries are also included. The first (27m:47s), is hosted by Leonard Maltin and gives a description of the making of the picture and the difficulties Ford had in making it. In particular, attention is given to the making of Rio Grande, which Republic demanded as a condition to agreeing to fund this picture. The program includes a substantial clip of Wayne paying tribute to Ford. This piece looks and sounds even worse, if possible, than the main feature. The second documentary, The Joys of Ireland (30m:14s), is almost entirely made up interviews with O'Hara, as well as the sons of McLaglen and Wayne. This is by far the best looking feature on the disc, without the digital look that plagues the rest of it. Much of the same ground covered here is also mined in the commentary, so there is some duplication, resulting in the grade which is a bit lower than might be expected.

Cast and crew bios and filmographies for the principals are included, as well as a few screens of production notes. On the useless side we find a montage of clips from the film (a mercifully brief 3m:08s), set to an utterly inappropriate electric guitar score. Also included are promotional ads for this disc as well as the special editions of High Noon and Rio Grande. Actual theatrical trailers would have been welcome rather than these puff pieces.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

The classic holds up well after fifty years, despite an embarrassingly poor transfer. The extras are worthwhile, but this is unfortunately not a definitive presentation.


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