Sunday, March 17, 2019

Architecture of "The Quiet Man" [1952]

Architecture of: The Quiet Man [1952]
Director: John Ford
Academy Award Winner, Best Cinematography - Color: Winton C. Hoch  & Archie Stout 
Academy Award Nominees, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration - Color: Frank Hotaling, John McCarthy Jr. Charles S. Thompson 

In the vivid Technicolor The Quiet Man, much is made of returning expatriate, Irish American Sean Thornton (John Wayne's) restoring his thatch-covered house as a measure of his dedication to the local culture (the village of Inisfree served as locations), and his willingness to give himself over to his new country and its rich, sometimes superstitious customs. When he paints his front door, he paints it green.

But there truly was a tradition in Ireland of painting the door either a bright color. In Dublin town, where homes were long built in the Georgian style and facades conformed to strict stylistic guidelines the freedom to paint the front doors a color of choice offered the chance stand apart.  

There is also the (possibly apocryphal) that after the death of Queen Victoria, England ordered the Irish to paint their doors black and instead they thumbed their noses at England and painted them in vivid, brilliant and varying colors.

That the film's American hero, wanting very much to belong, while finding it difficult to leave his brash American tastes entirely behind, would choose a color so closely associated with the Irish landscape is not lost on his new and supportive, if mildly skeptical, friends (popular character actors Eileen Crowe & Arthur Shields):  

    Elizabeth: Well, Mr. Thornton, you are a wonder. It looks the way all Irish cottages should and so seldom do. And only an American would have thought of emerald green.
    Cyril: Red is more durable!