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door building

March 18, 2013

QuietMan 1952 GreenDr

From Benjamin

In the 1952 movie “The Quiet Man“, based on Irish novelist Maurice Walshof’s short story of the same name, nearly every possible Irish stereotype is evoked, if with loving hands and lush, technicolor eyes, by Oscar-winners, director John Ford and cinematographer Winton Hoch.

When John Wayne’s expat character, retired boxer Sean Thornton, returns from America to the village of Innisfree to reclaim his “wee, humble” home, he restores the modest, thatched roof, white-washed structure with his own mighty hands. But when he refinishes his front door – a wood slat, dutch door with iron strap hinges, he diverges from a familiar tradition of painting it red.

Depending on your source, the custom of using a bright color derived either from the need to distinguish one’s own door in the fog of night and drink; or from a nose-thumbing response to the English decree to paint all doors black in memory of deceased Queen Victoria. And in turn-of-the century Dublin Town, where homes were built in a strict Georgian style and facades conformed to narrow stylistic guidelines, the freedom to paint the front doors a color of choice offered the chance stand apart.

Our hero, however, wants nothing more than to fit in – with peace, quiet (and, eventually hot-tempered, copper-mained Maureen O’Hara). So, with a charming, romantic view to his heritage, he paints the door …. green.

His neighbors, the Reverend Cyril Playfair (Arthur Shields) and wife Mrs. Elizabeth Playfair (Eileen Crowe) behold his handiwork quizzically, but admiringly,  –
Mrs. Playfair: 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!

Reverend Playfair: Red is more durable…

Frank Hotaling, and John McCarthy Jr. & Charles Thompson were nominated for Best Art Direction & Best Set Decoration.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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