MOVIE TRIBUTE ALL DONE ON THE QUIET; Maths Prof Takes 15 Years to Write Definitive Guide to Greatest Irish Film

Sunday Mirror (London, England), November 12, 2000 | Go to article overview
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MOVIE TRIBUTE ALL DONE ON THE QUIET; Maths Prof Takes 15 Years to Write Definitive Guide to Greatest Irish Film


Byline: MAEVE QUIGLEY

A CORK-BASED maths professor has realised a dream of creating the most comprehensive guide to one of the world's favourite Irish films.

The Complete Guide To The Quiet Man was painstakingly compiled by Des MacHale over 15 years and the finished product was finally launched in Dublin yesterday.

Des, whose day job is Professor Of Mathematics at University College, Cork, has already written 50 books - mostly jokes and puzzles.

But his Quiet Man obsession started in 1953 when he was only seven years old.

"I fell in love with it then and there and from that point I became a 'Quiet Maniac'.

"I finally decided to write the book in 1985 and of course I was not a film critic so I had to learn to be a film critic and historian over that time.

"I also had two very good researchers working with me - Charlie Harold who was assistant manager at Ashford Castle when filming was taking place and Liam O'Reilly.

"But even with their superb help it was still the most back-breaking job I've ever done."

The Quiet Man was mostly filmed in the Cong area of West Ireland and even today, film fans from all over the world flock to see where John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara made screen history.

And in his new book, the 54-year-old professor leaves no stone unturned.

"I spent a long time in the areas trying to find the positions, the locations and the camera angles," he told Sunday Mirror.

"I talked to the surviving extras, identified the bit players and identified the music.''

In his Oscar-winning film Irish-American director John Ford reworked a short story by Kerry man Maurice Walsh who was paid the princely sum of pounds 10 for the film rights.

John Wayne played Sean Thornton, an Irishman who returns from America to reclaim his homestead and escape his past.

But he falls in love with gorgeous and fiery Mary Kate Danaher, played by Maureen O'Hara, a beautiful but poor girl who also has the misfortune of being related to the ill-tempered Red Will Danaher played by Victor McLagen.

The tempestuous relationship that forms between Sean and Mary Kate, punctuated by Will's pugnacious attempts to keep them apart, form the main plot, with Sean's past as the dark undercurrent.

All those involved made cinematic history and Des says the film's ingredients were part and parcel of its now legendary success.

"It's amazing," he said. "I would maybe compare it to something like Danny Boy - why does one song grip the hearts of so many people across the world?

"No one knows for sure but The Quiet Man works in virtually the same way. There's something magical that we just can't understand.

"John Ford was probably the greatest movie director of all time. Orson Wells said there were three great movie directors - John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.

"And the on-screen chemistry between John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara is electric.

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