Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: The Quiet Man


I planned on watching this film all weekend and yet time got away from me and life got busy and, well, I was forced to digest this in parts over the morning while I was attempting to work and not allow my boss to know that I was, well, watching a movie!  But, how could I miss this, for I'm trying my hardest to play along every week to Nate's Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

I'm so happy I fit this one in today.

Now, I'll be honest.  I'm not a John Wayne fan.  I have a very close friend who owns all of his movies, and a mother in law who has a painting of the man hanging in her living-room, but I have never been fond of his acting, at all.  I have always been on the outside of his legend, shrugging at his presence and his drawl and pretty much considering him a one-trick pony.  So, when it was announced that The Quiet Man was the film of the week, I was less than excited.  

I LOVED THIS MOVIE!


Before I get into my favorite shot, and really the exploration of my favorite shot, I want to say something about the overall scenery of the film itself.  There are a lot of classic films that use a near painted backdrop for a lot of the scenic moments, and at times this can be a distraction, but there is something so beautiful about the way that natural scenery and manufactured backdrops filter into the film, creating this otherworldly, postcard like feel.  I almost hate the word 'vintage' because so many 'hipsters' try and capitalize on it and use it to nauseating abuse, but that feels like the best word to describe this film's overall look.

It's just stunning.

Ok, so now let's talk about my Best Shot.  This was hard, for one reason and one reason only; every shot of Maureen O'Hara was my best shot.  Like, this woman is so incredibly beautiful, her face is so strong and so striking, and her performance is such a fiery and expressive one that every time I saw her I was ready to declare it my favorite shot.

I mean, I did tweet this:


So, narrowing this down was hard to do.  I kept coming back to the many moments we get of O'Hara observing the people around her, her eyes peering around corners and her face soaking in their interactions, and I was so much in love with her.

I just love this moment, this absorption of a scene...

I also couldn't help but notice the way that she wore her experience so naturally.  You could see in her body language, but so much so in her facial expressions, that she was not someone to be taken lightly or to be underestimated.  She has seen it all, has experienced it all and that bled into the way she allowed a single conversation to adjust on her face.

Love this SO MUCH...the shift to this moment is so natural and so telling...

And yet, even this woman can be caught off guard by a feeling she isn't ready to embrace, or isn't sure how to embrace.

MY GOD, that face says so much...so much!

This may very well be the start of a new actressing obsession for me.

Alright, so I'm just going to pick one, and it doesn't really surprise me that the one I keep coming back to is the first one I saw, because it was in that moment (that whole scene really) that so much about this woman was told to me.  As Sean sees Mary Kate for the first time, it's obvious why he is drawn to her beauty, but in her face we read a backstory so deep it pleads for someone to sit down and read it, love it, embrace it and help it write a new tale to tell!

So, I'm going to countdown to that moment that leaves me with such a warm smile on my soul...

He sees her...

She notices him...

She understands that look in his eyes...

She feels the rising disapproval...

She tries to push down the moment of flattery...

 My Best Shot

She can't help but 'look back'...

22 comments:

  1. That's a great series of choices. I have to admit that I don't love this movie, I don't dislike it either but it's never captivated me. I feel guilty about it because it was my Grandmother's favorite film and every Easter when it was shown, that once a year thing again, we all went to her house, had dinner, Corned Beef and Cabbage without fail, and then watched the film. So I love the memory but not the movie and didn't need to re-watch because I know it like the back of my hand.

    Even though I hold no special affection for it it is a beautiful film to look at and Maureen O'Hara was made for Technicolor if any actress ever was. It actually resulted with her being cast a lot of sword and sandal flicks and swashbucklers which didn't make her too happy. She was a favorite of John Ford though so he provided several good roles for her. I read her autobiography "Tis, Herself" and she quite the feisty one.

    As far as John Wayne goes he was limited to be sure but he knew what worked for him and was able to mold it to a fine point. He was also usually wise enough not to stray too far outside his comfort zone, for many if not most actors that would be a failing but having seen the atrocity that is "The Conqueror" where he was the most unconvincing Genghis Khan imaginable it was the right decision for him. I think he was truly exceptional twice in The Searchers and The Shootist and quite good in Red River and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

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    1. I actually quite liked him here, where I found his restraint fit the film's core so well, and he was a perfect counterpoint to O'Hara. I did really like him in The Searchers, too.

      I'm sad you don't love this. I'm glad you have a wonderful memory associated with it, though. I just found it so delightful, so charming, and O'Hara was just absolute GOLD here.

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  2. I ALMOST chose this shot. I love how you can so clearly read everything Mary Kate is thinking on O'Hara's face (and WHAT a face it is!). And I also love that the camera just stays at that low angle as she backs away, ever so slowly easing out of frame. Absolutely one of the greatest introductory shots of a character in cinema history.

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    1. ALSO: I've never been a huge John Wayne fan either, but I totally swoon all over him in this one. Something about the way that soaked-through white shirt clings to his biceps just does something to me...

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    2. LOL, well I wasn't swooning like that (although, I will say he's probably never looked better), but I was actually impressed with his delivery here, very much. Still, this was ALL ABOUT O'Hara, who was just EVERYTHING!

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  3. love, love, love o'hara's entrance in this film so much! and, no joke, i actually paused the film right at the shot you chose with her turned head at the bottom of the frame and thought - what a great shot! but ultimately went with her face more visible - conveying so much with a stare...

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    1. That whole moment is one of the greatest cinematic moments...it's just a perfect entrance, a perfect introduction, and the range of emotions that O'Hara expresses in those few seconds is just marvelous.

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  4. I haven't seen this but... I do love Maureen O'Hara. She was a fox in The Parent Trap.

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    1. Oh, this is such a great movie...one of my favorite Fords!

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  5. I love Mary Kate's reaction when she realizes Sean is interested in her. Her blend of righteous indignation, pleasure, and tentative hope.

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  6. Is this your first Maureen O'Hara film?? If so, what an introduction! She's ssooooo beautiful here, it's almost too much to handle. Good choice for your best shot.

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    1. Kind of. I mean, I've seen The Parent Trap as a kid, and I've see How Green Was My Valley, but this was the first film I've seen where it was so apparent she was on screen. Like, it was that 'star is born' moment for my cinephile soul.

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  7. Wow. She is incredibly beautiful. And her profile is insane in that third picture.

    Great pick!

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    1. Yeah, I was blown away by her beauty...but on top of that, her performance is just INCREDIBLE here!

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    2. Part of me wishes that Jessica Chastain's accent work wasn't so scary in Miss Julie, because she'd be an inspired choice to play O'Hara in a biopic.

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  8. YES!!!!!!!!! This movie loses to Singin' in the Rain, but it otherwise SLAYS at the CinSpecs! It gets wins for O'Hara, McLaglen and the cinematography, while it lands 11 nominations. Love this one so much. It's been in and out of my top 100 since I first saw it last year.

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    1. O'Hara is so clearly my winner right now. I'm very underversed in this year, but like, I can't see her losing. She's SO GOOD!

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  9. I did not love this movie (though I thought I would), but I DO love how you break the scene into shots indicating what's going through the O'Hara character's mind. If The Quiet Man is ever made into a comic book, I hope you write it.

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    1. Thanks! I loved that whole scene so much that I kept taking screen shots because I couldn't decide which one I liked most...I loved them all...and so it just felt natural that I should incorporate them all.

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  10. I love John Wayne (not in early years, but in later years My dad reminded me of Wayne-a certain look) and I love the luminous Maureen O'Hara. I love this film and when he finally boots her back home (which I find very romantic actually), I fell in love with this film. Great shots you pick of her. OK going back to lay down. I have bronchitis so no pneumonia-Yahoo!

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    1. Well, I'm glad it's not pneumonia, but I'm sorry you're not feeling well!

      This film truly is breathtaking! I'm glad that you love it.

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