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 Maureen O'Hara

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Maureen O'Hara   Tue 27 Oct 2015, 21:50

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_O%27Hara


I saw two of her films: Rio Grande and The Quiet man  nearly when they were released: 1950 and 1952.
For me "The Quiet Man" was far better than "Rio Grande" because it was more poetic and more "human" Yes even at that age Wink  (I think I was ten then). Rio Grande was a bit the same as Stage Coach (John Wayne) and we were submerged with American cowboy films at that time...


.





Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Tue 27 Oct 2015, 22:17

To have no misunderstandings:
I put the "Danny Boy" song in the message because I found it such a lovely song and to show that Maureen could sing too.
But the music from the film soundtrack "The quiet man"confirms me after some 60 years that I was right in my appreciation of the film in the time.


Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Wed 28 Oct 2015, 12:10

When The Quiet Man came out it was naturally a big success in Ireland, a country at the time still grateful and even proud of any portrayal of the land on the world stage. This is a phenomenon of small countries, and especially ones with a recent history of independence from a dominant neighbour or subjugator who are almost embarrassingly desperate to clutch at any external recognition. This desperation shows itself in many ways (exaggerated self-perceptions of their relative importance being a notable one) and, as exemplified by The Quiet Man, a wilfulness to overlook or forgive, and sometimes even collaborate with, portrayals based on nothing more than stereotype, even when those stereotypes themselves have their roots as much in an historical antipathy towards a people as any genuine respect.

Cinemas in Dublin, packed as they were anyway at the time regardless of what was playing in a severely depressed city where the escapism that films provided mirrored the reality of genuine escape in the form of mass emigration, were especially packed for this movie, not least because it starred one of Dublin's own, Maureen Fitzsimons from Ranelagh. Maureen O'Hara, for many at the time, represented the ultimate escape act - not only had she emigrated but she had become internationally famous and, to a younger generation especially, a real heroine having made this success in a business which drew approbation from the Catholic church authorities for the scandalous and amoral activities its members engaged in. She represented therefore something more than an ideal, but also for younger people a hugely tantalising glimpse into a world forbidden to them at home and of which they could only dream.

My mother was courting at the time and I assume was probably even the instigator of that weekend's decision to travel into town with her beau and spend some hard earned cash on joining 1500 others in the Carlton or the Savoy to see the film in style. And I assume she, like everyone else at the cinema, sat patiently through the opening scenes of cringeworthy stereotypical Oirishness as the characters and plot, for what it was worth, were established. After all, this was how the Irish and their land were traditionally portrayed by Hollywood, the only difference with this film being the added element of having been shot on location in Mayo and therefore with genuine Irish mountains and landmarks getting a rare outing on the giant screen.

However it was about half an hour or so into the movie that my mother's patience began wearing awfully thin. Maureen, playing the role of a feisty Irish lass who marries the male lead (atrociously acted by John Wayne, romance never having been his forte anyway) on the understanding that her fierce independence of mind is what has attracted him to her, and dependent on a dowry payment being hers to dispose of after marriage to exercise some material independence too, understandably ups and leaves when she learns that not only has her brother withdrawn the dowry but her husband turns out to regard this as a plus since it means his wife will be more compliant and less feisty, having now to depend on him.

Nowadays of course the plot would follow the wife - O'Hara's Mary Kate - as she bravely continued her struggle in a male-dominated world in which even husbands conspire with your enemy to keep you down. But not in 1952, and especially not in a 1952 Hollywood portrayal of Ireland. Wayne's character Sean promptly follows after Mary Kate, physically restrains her with violence and then frog marches her back to the village in a scene exacerbated by a script which pointedly includes other characters' endorsement of his behaviour along the five mile route, and it must be said, an endorsement echoed by the (mainly male) laughs in the auditorium at this "comical" scene.

That was when the thread of patience, already as thin as gossamer, snapped and my mother, declaring loudly to her date that he could stay and watch this offence of a film if he wished, upped from her seat in the stalls and marched the long aisle to the exit, roundly castigating along the way any and all self-respecting females in the cinema (most, like her, having arrived with their significant other), entreating them to examine their consciences and decide for themselves if this film really was intended for them at all, and if they too sat beside a man who had laughed at this to consider whether he was really intended for them either. She had tramped in fury all the way to the bus terminus in Eden Quay before she even cared to notice whether her own beau had followed (he had).

Years later she read an interview with a by then well respected Irish champion of feminism who related the story that as a young girl she had been present in a cinema watching The Quiet Man with her parents when a young woman had stormed out half way through deploring the scene and encouraging women to join her in her disapproval by following suit. She hadn't of course, though she remembers that several did, and cited the incident as being the one which started her on her own life-long appraisal of a woman's actual worth and role in society.

My mother found it amusing.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Wed 28 Oct 2015, 12:36

I've been waiting expectantly for your response since I saw Paul's post, nordmann. Tempted though I was to jump in, I demurred and I'm glad I did. It must have been quite a number of years later when I first saw it on TV and thought "My God, surely the Irish must have picketed the cinemas when this came out". Then I reflected on some of the films set in Scotland I had seen and thought again.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Wed 28 Oct 2015, 13:03

Domestic abuse didn't stop with The Quite Man;

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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Wed 28 Oct 2015, 13:10

ferval wrote:
I've been waiting expectantly for your response since I saw Paul's post, nordmann. Tempted though I was to jump in, I demurred and I'm glad I did. It must have been quite a number of years later when I first saw it on TV and thought "My God, surely the Irish must have picketed the cinemas when this came out". Then I reflected on some of the films set in Scotland  I had seen and thought again.


I have no idea what you could possibly mean, Ferval;

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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Wed 28 Oct 2015, 13:16

McLintock was a huge success in its day (1963). In the film his daughter Becky (Stephanie Powers) falls in love with a boy called Dev, played by Wayne's real son Patrick Wayne, but only after Dev also assaults her with a coal shovel across the backside. The father then pursues his estranged wife Katherine (O'Hara) through the streets and assaults her in the same way with a coal shovel (this was what was known as a "running gag" at the time).

It was a bit like The Quiet Man alright, only more sympathetic to coal shovels which, for no good reason I can fathom, rarely feature normally in plots concerning familial strife.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Wed 28 Oct 2015, 18:05

Stange what passed for humour back then.  I think real life John Wayne respected real life Maureen O'Hara though.  I hadn't realised that Charles Laughton played a part in transposing the young Maureen to Hollywood.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Thu 29 Oct 2015, 19:35

nordmann wrote:
When The Quiet Man came out it was naturally a big success in Ireland, a country at the time still grateful and even proud of any portrayal of the land on the world stage. This is a phenomenon of small countries, and especially ones with a recent history of independence from a dominant neighbour or subjugator who are almost embarrassingly desperate to clutch at any external recognition. This desperation shows itself in many ways (exaggerated self-perceptions of their relative importance being a notable one) and, as exemplified by The Quiet Man, a wilfulness to overlook or forgive, and sometimes even collaborate with, portrayals based on nothing more than stereotype, even when those stereotypes themselves have their roots as much in an historical antipathy towards a people as any genuine respect.

Cinemas in Dublin, packed as they were anyway at the time regardless of what was playing in a severely depressed city where the escapism that films provided mirrored the reality of genuine escape in the form of mass emigration, were especially packed for this movie, not least because it starred one of Dublin's own, Maureen Fitzsimons from Ranelagh. Maureen O'Hara, for many at the time, represented the ultimate escape act - not only had she emigrated but she had become internationally famous and, to a younger generation especially, a real heroine having made this success in a business which drew approbation from the Catholic church authorities for the scandalous and amoral activities its members engaged in. She represented therefore something more than an ideal, but also for younger people a hugely tantalising glimpse into a world forbidden to them at home and of which they could only dream.

My mother was courting at the time and I assume was probably even the instigator of that weekend's decision to travel into town with her beau and spend some hard earned cash on joining 1500 others in the Carlton or the Savoy to see the film in style. And I assume she, like everyone else at the cinema, sat patiently through the opening scenes of cringeworthy stereotypical Oirishness as the characters and plot, for what it was worth, were established. After all, this was how the Irish and their land were traditionally portrayed by Hollywood, the only difference with this film being the added element of having been shot on location in Mayo and therefore with genuine Irish mountains and landmarks getting a rare outing on the giant screen.

However it was about half an hour or so into the movie that my mother's patience began wearing awfully thin. Maureen, playing the role of a feisty Irish lass who marries the male lead (atrociously acted by John Wayne, romance never having been his forte anyway) on the understanding that her fierce independence of mind is what has attracted him to her, and dependent on a dowry payment being hers to dispose of after marriage to exercise some material independence too, understandably ups and leaves when she learns that not only has her brother withdrawn the dowry but her husband turns out to regard this as a plus since it means his wife will be more compliant and less feisty, having now to depend on him.

Nowadays of course the plot would follow the wife - O'Hara's Mary Kate - as she bravely continued her struggle in a male-dominated world in which even husbands conspire with your enemy to keep you down. But not in 1952, and especially not in a 1952 Hollywood portrayal of Ireland. Wayne's character Sean promptly follows after Mary Kate, physically restrains her with violence and then frog marches her back to the village in a scene exacerbated by a script which pointedly includes other characters' endorsement of his behaviour along the five mile route, and it must be said, an endorsement echoed by the (mainly male) laughs in the auditorium at this "comical" scene.

That was when the thread of patience, already as thin as gossamer, snapped and my mother, declaring loudly to her date that he could stay and watch this offence of a film if he wished, upped from her seat in the stalls and marched the long aisle to the exit, roundly castigating along the way any and all self-respecting females in the cinema (most, like her, having arrived with their significant other), entreating them to examine their consciences and decide for themselves if this film really was intended for them at all, and if they too sat beside a man who had laughed at this to consider whether he was really intended for them either. She had tramped in fury all the way to the bus terminus in Eden Quay before she even cared to notice whether her own beau had followed (he had).

Years later she read an interview with a by then well respected Irish champion of feminism who related the story that as a young girl she had been present in a cinema watching The Quiet Man with her parents when a young woman had stormed out half way through deploring the scene and encouraging women to join her in her disapproval by following suit. She hadn't of course, though she remembers that several did, and cited the incident as being the one which started her on her own life-long appraisal of a woman's actual worth and role in society.

My mother found it amusing.


Nordmann,

it is now some sixty years ago that I watched the film together with mother and father and sister a bit more than a year younger. There were 11 cinemas in Ostend and we went once a week to a film, sometimes twice...
To try to come again in the mood I was so lucky to find the entire film again on youtube:



After watching it again I have to say that the poetic scenes weren't that overwhelming...but in the meantime I have seen over these sixty years that many films, which were far more poetic...

But now back to your message:
Overhere Belgium, especially our region under the umbrella of the Roman-Catholic church. Some circumstances as in Ireland, although I wonder if it was that bad as overthere.
Especially on my father's side it was a "men's world" and my father was not better, many times under merchants some drinks and then coming drunk at home. Fighting under drunkards and calling someone a "coward" was a "capital" offence. But my mother was a "feministe" and she never give in and was always complaining about the lower position in society of the women.
But nevertheless, how stereotyping the film can be, I recognize our society of the Fifties, and the Americans exagerate sometimes to accentuate the real thing...

And the odd thing, my father said not that much, but my mother was quite pleased with the Maureen character as she was independent as she and stuck to her independency with her own money. I remember after all those years, that she found the burning of the money in the furnace so significant. It was not for the money but for the principle of her rights. Or so it was that she understood it. The film was the original one with French and Dutch subtitles.
So two mothers with the same feminist tendencies could react quite different.
The rights of women were always not far under the surface in my mother's thinking...still in the Seventies she made a whole row that my father had to sign together with her at the notary for HER inheritance of her mother. Yes quite a row, I remember. In my opinion she sided by her conviction many times with women, who were definitely wrong...

PS: It can be that I am only used to Queen's English or that I am more and more a bit becoming deaf, but when they started the Irish tainted parlance I didn't understand that much...in the time it was so easy with subtitles...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Mon 02 Nov 2015, 09:14

The point is, Paul, that no matter how "bad" the Catholic influence and control was in Ireland no one ever behaved the way that John Wayne's character did in the film and would have expected approval from their peers. A man who physically abused his wife in public wouldn't be long getting his come-uppance. Such bullies - as now - tended to do all that stuff out of the public eye, and Ireland in the 1920s, as the film pretended to portray, was no different.

It is understandable that people in Belgium whose only knowledge of Ireland was probably derived from Hollywood versions such as this might have reckoned that in the context of the society as portrayed then O'Hara's character represented a sort of feminist ideal, or at least a woman with principles. However this was an Ireland in which feminists were shrews who needed to be violently put in their place, men spoke in ridiculous accents which often owed more to Turbat than Belturbet for their presumed source, every extra was by default mentally deficient, and everyone had to be careful not to trip over the leprechauns as they staggered home through the suspiciously brightly lit landscape in the middle of the night from the boozer. Not quite National Geographic standard as an analysis of Irish society, in other words.

To be fair to O'Hara, who moved back to Ireland and lived there for some while before going back to the USA to die, she did often apologise in later life for her contribution to the image of Ireland she had helped to create in that particular film. Though she reckons her own crime was superseded later as an atrocity anyway by Sean Connery in Darby O'Gill And The Little People. (Otherwise known as James Bond Versus the Leprechauns)

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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Mon 02 Nov 2015, 11:13

nordmann wrote:
cringeworthy stereotypical Oirishness as the characters and plot, for what it was worth, were established. After all, this was how the Irish and their land were traditionally portrayed by Hollywood, the only difference with this film being the added element of having been shot on location in Mayo and therefore with genuine Irish mountains and landmarks getting a rare outing on the giant screen.

Such stereotyping can also work at the other end of the spectrum. Years later (and away from the rural west of Ireland) 20th Century Fox released The Commitments (1991) set in Dublin's Northside and based on Roddy Doyle's novel of the same name. Although Doyle did have a say in the screenplay it was heavily influenced by 2 English screenwriters and its English director Alan Parker. One of the most memorable scenes in the film involves a young lad taking a horse up a lift in a block of flats on a housing estate. In 1991 this resulted in a flurry of articles in the UK press and their weekend supplements etc featuring horses grazes on patches of grass besides residential tower blocks in the Ballymun area of Dublin. Needless to say that it didn't take long for some in GB to then conclude that this meant that all of Ireland was basically like Ballymun. I particularly remember a young Irish friend of mine in London at the time having to point out to people (with some degree of annoyance) that this was by no means the case.

Later and during the 'Celtic Tiger' years (1994-2008) Alan Parker struck again with the bleak Angela's Ashes (1999) set in Limerick's impoverished lanes in the 1930s and 40s. This was based on the autobiography of Frank McCourt but was essentially a Hollywood production while the screenwriter was Australian. Needless to say that the film was much more popular outside of Ireland that in. As with Maureen O'Hara, the case of Frank McCourt is quite complex. Although he made a career for himself as an 'Irish-American' writer, he later in life stated that he considered himself to be American and not Irish.

These are examples of how stereotypes can work in all kinds of directions and be the product of quite random and often unintentional factors. Even a fond or well-meaning stereotype is still, nevertheless, a stereotype.
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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Mon 02 Nov 2015, 11:25

An acquaintance of mine runs a diving equipment store in Limerick. At the height of Angela's Ashes fame (notoriety in Limerick) he had great fun with his window advertisements. My favourite was the sign placed next to the aqualungs and snorkels with a picture from the film along the lines of the one under and the caption "It happened before - it can happen again. This time be prepared!"

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PostSubject: Re: Maureen O'Hara   Mon 02 Nov 2015, 21:13

nordmann wrote:
The point is, Paul, that no matter how "bad" the Catholic influence and control was in Ireland no one ever behaved the way that John Wayne's character did in the film and would have expected approval from their peers. A man who physically abused his wife in public wouldn't be long getting his come-uppance. Such bullies - as now - tended to do all that stuff out of the public eye, and Ireland in the 1920s, as the film pretended to portray, was no different.

It is understandable that people in Belgium whose only knowledge of Ireland was probably derived from Hollywood versions such as this might have reckoned that in the context of the society as portrayed then O'Hara's character represented a sort of feminist ideal, or at least a woman with principles. However this was an Ireland in which feminists were shrews who needed to be violently put in their place, men spoke in ridiculous accents which often owed more to Turbat than Belturbet for their presumed source, every extra was by default mentally deficient, and everyone had to be careful not to trip over the leprechauns as they staggered home through the suspiciously brightly lit landscape in the middle of the night from the boozer. Not quite National Geographic standard as an analysis of Irish society, in other words.

To be fair to O'Hara, who moved back to Ireland and lived there for some while before going back to the USA to die, she did often apologise in later life for her contribution to the image of Ireland she had helped to create in that particular film. Though she reckons her own crime was superseded later as an atrocity anyway by Sean Connery in Darby O'Gill And The Little People. (Otherwise known as James Bond Versus the Leprechauns)


 Nordmann, thank you very much for these explanations.

Kind regards, Paul.
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