This is a robust romantic drama of a native-born’s return to Ireland. Director John Ford took cast and cameras to Ireland to tell the story [by Maurice Walsh] against actual backgrounds.
Wayne is the quiet man of the title, returning to the land of his birth to forget a life of struggle and violence. In Inisfree, Wayne buys the cottage where he was born, immediately arousing the ire of Victor McLaglen, a well-to-do farmer who wanted the property himself.
His next mistake is to fall for Maureen O’Hara, McLaglen’s sister. Custom decrees the brother must give consent to marriage, so Wayne’s suit is hopeless until newly-made friends are able to trick McLaglen long enough to get the ceremony over with. Safely married, Wayne finds himself with a bride but not a wife.
Despite the length of the footage, film holds together by virtue of a number of choice characters, the best of which is Barry Fitzgerald’s socko punching of an Irish type. Wayne works well under Ford’s direction, answering all demands of the vigorous, physical character.
1952: Best Director, Color Cinematography.
Nominations: Best Picture, Supp. Actor (Victor McLaglen), Screenplay, Color Art Direction, Sound