Actors John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara created a classic with John Ford’s The Quiet Man. Their fans continue to swoon over the gorgeous visuals and the romantic chemistry between the two leads. However, it wasn’t always so easy getting that to translate onto the screen. O’Hara once admitted that she and Wayne had to get one scene perfect on the first take or Ford “would have strung us up by our toes.”
The Quiet Man tells the story of a boxer named Sean Thornton (Wayne) after he accidentally kills an opponent in the ring. He decides to flee America and return to his native Ireland with the hopes of purchasing his family’s old property. Sean wants to live out the rest of his days in peace, but Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen) also wants to buy the land.
Will’s sister, Mary Kate (O’Hara) ultimately develops a romantic relationship with Sean. As a result of their prior conflict, he refuses to allow them to be together. They plan to do what it takes to be together, even though Will does all that he can to make it increasingly difficult along the way.
According to John Nicoletti and O’Hara’s ‘Tis Herself: A Memoir, there were two different components to shooting the scene. O’Hara explained that Ford would have “strung us up by our toes” if Wayne and her didn’t get The Quiet Man cemetery scene just right in the first take.
“It’s everything that happens right up to the embrace and kiss,” O’Hara wrote. “We had to get it in one take because our clothes were sopping wet when we finished. If we missed it, then our costumes would have to be cleaned, dried, and ironed.”
O’Hara continued: “Our hair would have to be washed, dried, and reset. Makeup would have to be reapplied. These things take hours and hours to do and cost thousands and thousands of dollars for each take. We got it in one.”
The second part of the take was the kissing scene, which she suggested they got in two takes. O’Hara explained that they were so “electric” in their love scene because “I was the only leading lady big enough and tough enough for John Wayne.”
O’Hara explained that The Quiet Man fans approached her with admiration for her cemetery scene with Wayne for many years. The studio initially anticipated the movie to be an absolute failure at the box office, but they would be very wrong. Additionally, The Quiet Man continues to impact the lives of longtime fans in modern times.
The film plays with the ups and downs of Sean and Mary Kate’s relationship. The cemetery scene truly displays the peak of their passion for one another, which Ford beautifully shot. It’s no wonder why The Quiet Man fans continue to share this moment on social media.
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