A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that some critics have claimed that this is an anti-feminist movie, but that is a very superficial perspective. There's a flashback to Sean's professional boxing career, in which he accidentally killed another boxer, the reason he is reluctant to fight in Ireland. References to ability of married couples to hit each other. Some prejudice against Sean as an American and an outsider. Very nice depiction of religious tolerance, as the Catholic priest tells his parishioners to pretend they are congregants of the Protestant minister, so he can impress his bishop with how many members he has in his congregation. Brief references to a (non-violent) IRA.
What's the story?
In THE QUIET MAN, tall American Sean Thornton (John Wayne) arrives in Innisfree, Ireland, where he was born, to buy back his family home and settle there. Over the objections of "Squire" Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), a huge firey man, Sean buys the cottage, called White O'Morning, from the wealthy Widow Tillane (Mildred Natwick). Sean sees Will's sister, Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara) out in a field and is immediately struck by her. He approaches her as he would an American girl, but customs are different in Ireland and if he wants to court Mary Kate, he must do it according to the rules and with the permission of her brother. Thus begins Sean's troublesome courtship of Mary, in which her pride, and her dowry, come into play.
Is it any good?
Some critics have claimed that this is an anti-feminist movie, but that is a very superficial perspective. The furniture and money are important to Mary Kate because she wants to enter the relationship as an equal. She believes that without them she will be to Sean what she was in Will's house, just someone to do the work. She says, "Until I've got my dowry safe about me, I'm no married woman. I'm the servant I've always been, without anything of my own!" But it is just as important to Sean to let her know that what he cares about is his love for her, and that alone is enough to make her an equal partner.
Sean also has to conquer his fear of fighting, which requires him to open up emotionally. As "Trouper Thorn," a professional boxer in the U.S., he accidentally killed an opponent in the ring. This left him afraid to let go. In fights with Will and Mary Kate he learns that he can let go physically and emotionally and strengthen his relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Sean and Mary Kate loved each other very much, but had a hard time understanding each other. Why was Mary Kate's dowry so important to her? How did Sean show he understood that? Why did they burn the money? Was that a good way to solve the problem of the dowry for both of them? How did Sean's friends persuade Mary Kate's brother to let Sean marry her? Was that fair? Why did Sean and Will like each other better after fighting each other?
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