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The Quiet Man – Olive Signature Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Quiet-ManJohn Ford is probably a name that the kids today aren’t familiar with and may be long forgotten for some, but he’s truly one of the finest directors of all time.  He’s one that all those awesome filmmakers that rocked the industry in the 1970s pulled from.  While an artist, he was also in that era where films were just sort of a working thing where you moved from whatever one the studio put you on to another.  However, The Quiet Man was one of his personal projects that he kept on trying to get off of the ground for years before he was able to get the the ability to get the film made.  Turns out the film and Ford knew what the heck they were doing, because he wound up taking another Oscar for Best Director for it.  And as the years wore on, it because historically and culturally significant to be preserved by the Library of Congress.  Now, its getting some super special treatment by Olive Films in their Signature Edition series that debuted to raves last month.

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Film 

Sean Thornton, an American boxer with a tragic past, returns to the Irish town of his youth. There, he purchases his childhood home and falls in love with the fiery local lass, Mary Kate Danaher. But Kate’s insistence that Sean conduct his courtship in a proper Irish manner with matchmaker Michaleen Oge Flynn along for the ride as chaperone is but one obstacle to their future together; the other is her brother, “Red” Danaher, who spitefully refuses to give his consent to their marriage, or to honor the tradition of paying a dowry to the husband. Sean couldn’t care less about dowries or any other tradition that might stand in the way of his happiness. But when Mary Kate accuses him of being a coward, Sean is finally ready to take matters into his own hands.

The Quiet Man is a film unlike any other in the John Ford catalog.  It does feature his regular lead actor John Wayne, but this story is quite different.  The great American director was known for his luscious Westerns and action films during his hey day.  Ford’s story for this film is one of romance set alongside the backdrop of the Irish countryside.  This one was a a piece that was very close to the director’s heritage and one some refer to as one of his more personal stories.  Even following this film, John Ford wouldn’t really add anything to his catalog that was like it, leaving it as a nice appealing and standout entry in his impressive and lengthy resume.

Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography, one quick glance and its easy to see that this film rightfully deserves it.  Exteriors were shot on location in Ireland and its just rich and beautiful in appearance (Probably even moreso thanks to this Blu-ray).  The scenery and composition of this film is a winner and worthy of a recommendation on that standalone fact.  Ford’s later films, when shot wide, were know for capturing epic scales and western landscapes, but The Quiet Man is of something else entirely and equally beautiful.  And maybe his most beautiful film of all.

John Wayne gives a pretty damn good performance in this film.  He’s more reserved than normal and kinder. But he hides a darker secret to his past, and Wayne manages to bring that sort of depth to the performance both physically and vocally.  Funny enough, the Duke apparently felt bored with this movie and that he had nothing to do til the fist fight toward the end.  The real star and treat of the film is Maureen O’Hara, that gives a terrific and radiant performance.  And the camera catches her so stunningly, its masterful.  O’Hara drops some real range, and great emotion to the role, elevating to more than I assume it could have been on paper.

For those in my generation who think they may not know of The Quiet Man or haven’t seen the film, they actually probably have.  Notably, its in the film ET: The Extraterrestrial.  That scene where Elliot has the liberation of frogs revolt during the dissection in science class…and he kisses the girl accordingly to what ET is watching back home? Yeah, that movie was The Quiet Man in a very iconic moment.  However, the film is far more worthy than that little moment and iconic in its own right as a beautiful, personal piece of cinema from one of its its all time greatest directors.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: For their previous release, Olive Films did a 4K transfer and restoration.  This one is from that same transfer but has gone further and done more restoration work to it.  And MY.WORD.  This film looks absolutely beautiful.  I was in love with pretty much every frame.  It had a very storybook quality to the image. Its rich, sharp, full and has its own aesthetic it maintains throughout.  As I see some other reviewers are merely okay with it, I’m floored.

Depth:  Depth is pretty strong in both interiors and exteriors. Background detail is visible crisply whenever the focus allows.  Movements are cinematic in nature.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and rich.  Shadows, and attention to detail help carry this one.  No crushing was witnessed during this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  Color has a gorgeous look to it.  The star of all is green, which carries a wide variety and a very emerald and royal look.  Plants, grass, trees and all that carry it are rich and incredibly appealing.  Red is a color that pops a bit.  Most colors are full, strong and well represented here, looking like a lovely painting, crafting each frame.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones er a little on the warmer side, but its not really bothersome at all, only adding to the overall look of the film.  Details are impressive as you can make out facial textures, moles, make-up brushlines, lip texture and more from most distances.

Noise/Artifacts: Some very minimal specs/dirt and a nice layer of grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics:  Impressively, The Quiet Man features a mono mix that feels more modern than the 60+ year old film it is.  Absent are a lot of analog distortions (hiss and pops) that would have been completely acceptable but seem to be gone.  The mono track weaves and winds it dialogue with sound effects and music, effectively creating a loose, free sound that exhibits a nice balance.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are loud and clear.  Its a clean track that has them audible in any given moment with accurate volume levels depending on a character’s position or strength of voice.

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Extras 

The Quiet Man – Olive Signature Edition comes with a booklet featuring spec information about the film and this particular release.

Audio Commentary

  • With John Ford biographer Joseph McBride

A Tribute To Maureen O’Hara (HD, 9:29) – Actresses Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills and Ally Sheedy all recall their experience working with the legendary actress as well as really focusing on who she was as a person and the great things she did in life outside of her work in film.

Don’t You Remember It, Seanin? (HD, 17:20) – A visual essay by historian and John Ford expert Tag Gallagher.

Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates & Republic Pictures (HD, 5:22) – Author Marc Wanamaker goes over the history of Republic studios and their desire to make genre pictures and make money.

The Old Man: Peter Bogdanovich Remembers John Ford (HD, 12:18) – Its always a plus when they get the director to pop up on bonus material. He gets pretty emotional going over how he met John Ford, how he worked, his relationship with him, making the documentary based on him and how he feels his it he great American director.

The Making of The Quiet Man (SD, 27:49) – Written and hosted by Leonard Maltin.  An older, archival featurette that is hosted by the longtime acclaimed critic.  It kinda feels like an old TV special.

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Summary 

The Quiet Man looks and sounds very very impressive here in its latest incantation on Blu-ray from Olive Films via their new Signature Edition series.  Its image looks like a lovely classic painting from frame to frame over the gorgeous Irish countryside.  Audio is impressive as it has a clean performance that doesn’t sound the least bit dated. Bonus materials feature some stronger, personal material about the film, highlighted by a great interview with Peter Bogdanovich about John Ford.  This is a very easy recommend!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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