|John Wayne in Technicolor|
Sean Thornton (John Wayne), an ex-boxer who killed a man in the ring, returns to Inisfree, Ireland where he was born, for a fresh start. He falls in love with Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara) and the two get married after outwitting her brother, Will (Victor McLaglen), who refuses to give his sister her dowry. Until her husband gets it for her, he has to spend each night by himself in a sleeping bag. It all leads up to a supposedly big, highly over-rated fight scene that isn't half as entertaining, long or well-done as the fisticuffs in the average Republic serial. [Someone mentions that Will has 20 lb on Sean, but no one seems to notice that he also has twenty years on the younger man; Wayne was 45 and McLaglen 66 at the time of filming.] Well, the photography is beautiful and there are some fine performances from the supporting cast, but while the film certainly has its admirers, for the rest of us it hasn't worn well with time. Wayne and O'Hara make acceptable leads, but neither is well-cast [despite O'Hara's fiery red hair] nor especially memorable. Wayne was already becoming the familiar bull-necked ossified performer of his later years. Barry Fitzgerald, Arthur Shields [Fitzgerald's younger brother] and Mildred Natwick are more on the mark. But the main problem with the movie is that the characters are just types; they never really emerge as fully-dimensional people. There are some amusing moments to be fair, and the picture begins well and has some well-directed scenes [Wayne first spotting O'Hara, for instance], but it's also too "cutesy" by far, and thick with Hollywood-Irish cliches.A scene that is hilarious for the wrong reasons has the capon priest (Ward Bond), of all people, becoming furious when he learns Kate makes her husband sleep in a sleeping bag.
Verdict: You want to like it but ... **1/2.