John Wayne shocked by Maureen O’Hara’s improvised The Quiet Man line ‘I refused to say it’ | Films | Entertainment

The Quiet Man returns to US cinemas today for St Patrick’s Day, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Ireland-set John Wayne and John Ford collaboration. The 1952 Oscar-winning classic was considered by the director to be his sexiest movie and saw Duke’s retired boxer Sean Thornton making a pilgrimage to his home village in Ireland to claim his family estate during the 1920s. There he met his match with Maureen O’Hara’s Mary Kate Danaher and her difficult brother Red, played by Victor McLaglen. Shot in County Mayo and County Galway, the movie concluded with O’Hara whispering a line that Wayne was totally not expecting.

The scene in question saw the two waving goodbye before O’Hara said an unscripted line to Wayne which resulted in a double-take from him.

Initially, she refused to say the mystery words, writing in her memoir years later, “I couldn’t possibly say that to Duke!” However, Ford insisted that she do it, so as to get the genuinely shocked reaction from her co-star, which totally worked.

Only those three knew what the line was and took it to their graves. Given that the director considered The Quiet Man to be his steamiest picture, presumably, it was something considered risqué in the early 1950s.

Of course, this scene and the final fight almost didn’t end up in the movie until Ford pushed for final cut in his usual uncompromising manner.

Republic Pictures had insisted that The Quiet Man be no longer than two hours, believing that audiences wouldn’t want to sit in a movie theatre for any time beyond that.

At first, Ford refused, claiming he had trimmed all the fat and needed the nine minutes over, but the suits held their ground. So a few days later, he claimed he had the final print ready for screening when really it was his 129-minute cut.

After exactly two hours, the director signalled to the projectionist that the movie be stopped right in the middle of the big final fight between Sean and Red. In the end, the studio executives gave in and let him have his extra nine minutes.

The fight itself was particularly powerful, given that Ford had purposely angered McLaglen the night before filming to get the best performance possible out of the actor.

At the time, McLaglen was in his mid-sixties and in poor health, meaning the fight had to be really carefully choreographed.

Wayne later shared that the scene was stylised with big swinging roundhouse punches over short ones that real boxers would go for.

Shot on the grounds of Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ford’s son Patrick performed a stunt for McLaglen, when Wayne smacks him into the river.

However, the rest of it was the properly furious Red star. In real life he was a former boxer who was actually quite agreeable, so Ford felt he seriously need to rile him up.

When filming the scene where Wayne finds O’Hara in his cottage, it was so windy that her hair kept getting in her face and making her squint.

Ford yelled at his leading lady to open her eyes, to which she fired right back: “What would a bald-headed son of a b**** know about hair lashing across his eyeballs?”

On top of this, O’Hara was suffering from a broken bone in her hand for much of the production.

In the scene where Wayne kisses her for the first time, she slapped his face. However, his block caused the breakage. And given the film was shot in order, she had to endure the pain without a cast to reset her bone.

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