When John "Pappy" Ford screened his final cut for the studio's top brass they liked it, but it was 129 minutes. They reminded him they would not release a film over 120 minutes, citing the audiences could not/would not sit in a theater for over two hours. Ford staunchly objected claiming he already cut out 'all the fat' and there was nothing left to cut. They stood their ground & sent him back to cut nine minutes. Ford did his level best to contain his ire as he collected his film and fume out the door. As the story goes, a few days later he called the brass and informed them 'the final print' was ready for the screening. When the last man took his seat Ford signaled the projectionist to dim the lights and run it. Then, at exactly 120 minutes, right in the middle of the climactic fight, the screen goes white and the house lights came up. There followed by a deafening silence. Ford said something like, 'As you can plainly see there is nothing left to cut out. So, I give you 'The Quiet Man' at exactly 120 minutes! Now, you're begging me for the last nine minutes! Do you honestly think the audience will be any different?' Naturally, the studio relented and the rest, as they say, is history.
At the film's conclusion, after the credits, we see Kate and Sean standing in their garden waving good-bye. Maureen O'Hara turns to John Wayne and whispers something in his ear, evoking a priceless reaction from Wayne. What was said was known only to O'Hara, Wayne and director John Ford. In exchange for saying this unscripted bit of text, O'Hara insisted that the exact line never be disclosed by any involved parties. In her memoirs she says that she refused to say the line at first as she "couldn't possibly say that to Duke", but Ford insisted, claiming he needed a genuine shock reaction from Wayne. The line remains a mystery to this day.
The famous fight scene was shot in the grounds of Ashford Castle, Cong, County Mayo. The stunt in which John Wayne punches Victor McLaglen into the river was performed by director John Ford's son, Patrick Ford (doubling for McLaglen).
During the scene where John Wayne first kisses Maureen O'Hara, she slaps his face. When he blocked the blow, she broke a bone in her hand. Since the movie was being filmed in sequential order, she couldn't wear a cast to fix the broken bone.
John Wayne and John Ford decided to play a trick on Maureen O'Hara during filming. They chose the sequence where Wayne drags O'Hara across the town and through the fields. Before shooting the scene, Wayne and Ford kicked all of the sheep dung they could find onto the hill where O'Hara was to be dragged, face-down, on her stomach. O'Hara saw them doing it; with the help of several friends, she kicked it off, only to have Wayne and Ford kick it back on. O'Hara and her friends kicked it off again, and Wayne and Ford kicked it back. This went on and on until right before the scene was shot, when Wayne and Ford got in the last kick. According to O'Hara, "Duke had the time of his life dragging me through it. It was bloody awful. After the scene was over, Mr. Ford had given instructions that I was not to be brought a bucket of water or a towel. He made me keep it on for the rest of the day. I was mad as hell, but I had to laugh too. Isn't showbiz glamorous?"
According to an interview in the Los Angeles Times on October 28, 2000, Maureen O'Hara recounted that she, John Ford and John Wayne made a handshake agreement in 1944 to do the film. When Ford pitched the idea to Hollywood producers, he was told that it was a "silly Irish story that won't make a penny." Wayne had a contract with Republic Pictures and approached studio chief Herbert J. Yates ("...a step down for John Ford", he said). He was told by Yates that the script was a silly Irish tale that would make no money. However, Yates would relent if Wayne, Ford and O'Hara together would make a western for Republic, a sure money-maker that would pay for the losses Republic expected to incur on this film. The picture made as a result of the agreement was Rio Grande (1950).
Cohan's Pub in this film was actually a grocery store in Cong, County Mayo. It later became a souvenir shop, and was recently turned into a real Irish pub. It was officially opened on 17 September 2008 by Tara MacGowran, daughter of Jack MacGowran, who played Ignatius Feeney in the movie.
Victim of censorship: In the scene when Michaeleen O'Flynn goes into the cottage bedroom and stares at the broken bed, he says "Impetuous. Homeric!" Then and if you are paying attention, you will see, immediately after he says "Homeric!" the film will jump. This is because a line was cut out-but some years AFTER the film's original release. Evidently, someone with clout complained when they heard him say, "Impetuous. Homeric. The power of the man!"
Barry Fitzgerald, who plays the character of the Roman Catholic Michaleen Oge Flynn, and Arthur Shields, who played the Protestant vicar Cyril 'Snuffy' Playfair, were brothers in real life. They also appeared together in director John Ford's The Long Voyage Home (1940). They were both Protestants born in Dublin, Ireland. Shields was the family name. The Oscar-winner Fitzgerald, who was nearly eight years older than his brother, was born William Joseph Shields.
This was a significant departure for Republic Pictures, which specialized in low-budget westerns, comedies and war pictures. It was the company's first and only film to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.
According to the production notes on the DVD. John Ford first acquired the rights to Maurice Walsh's short story, 'The Quiet Man' in 1936, but it would be another fifteen years before his dream of adapting the story to film would become a reality.
The last line of the wedding toast was censored by Republic Pictures. It should have said, "May their days be long and full of happiness. May their children be many and full of health. And may they live in peace and national freedom". After the film was completed, Republic Pictures decided "national freedom" in Ireland was too controversial a concept.
On the DVD commentary Maureen O'Hara dispels many myths about the film including one about a lack of accommodations for the crew in Ireland. According to O'Hara, the production spent six weeks shooting the exteriors in Ireland and filmed the interiors on sound stages in L.A.
The station used in the opening sequence and during the scene where John Wayne slams the train doors looking for Maureen O'Hara later in the film is Ballyglunin Station, south of the town of Tuam, County Galway. It looks the same today as it did in 1951, when the film was shot with the only major difference being the bridge which crosses the railway tracks is now gone. This bridge was moved to Ballinasloe station, East Galway where it still stands today, after Ballyglunin closed down as a main line.
The white haired frail Dan Tobin, who gets up from his death bed and runs to see the fight is John Ford's older brother, Francis Ford. Francis was a silent film actor and director in his own right, who died two years after the film was made.
While all other saddled horses are seen with English saddles (as would be expected in Ireland during that time period), Sean's (John Wayne's) horse is saddled with a US Army-issue McClellan cavalry saddle.
The original White o' Morn cottage from the film is in a sheep field along a road that cuts from Maam Cross to the southern pass of N59. There you can see the bridge where Michaleen parts ways with Sean Thornton before Sean heads into the cottage for the first time and the the remainder of the cottage itself. Unfortunately, only about 20% is left of the original cottage, having been carried away stone by stone by "Quiet Man" fans. There is a replica of the cottage at the Peacokes Hotel at the intersection of N59 and Maam (Maum) Crossing. The Quiet Man Bridge (where Sean reveals himself in the beginning of the movie) is about a mile or so east of the hotel, and has a sign telling you where to turn. The actual cottage is approximately 1 mile south of Maam (Maum) Village on N59. It is on the West side of the road with a gate. You can see the bridge John Wayne crosses the river on (you will need too as well)It is approximately 100 yards up the road. (GPS N53.50760 W009.56423) There are no markings to tell you where it is. The Quiet Man Museum is around the block from Pat Cohan's in Cong.
According to John Ford, studio head Herbert J. Yates disliked the title and wanted the film called "The Prizefighter and the Colleen." Ford disagreed because he was afraid that would give the plot away. Obviously Ford and his point prevailed.
In a brief, uncredited cameo, actor Robert Armstrong appears as "the Sergeant Major," blowing the bugle to start the horse race. Armstrong, who played the show-biz producer Carl Denham in "King Kong" (1933), reprised the Denham role in "Mighty Joe Young" (1949), a John Ford/Merian C. Cooper production, just before "The Quiet Man" - directed by Ford - went into production.
In an interview John Wayne said that the final fight scene was stylized to make it seem more interesting. The fighters use long, swinging "roundhouse" punches rather than the economical short punches a real prize fighter would use.