Last night, I watched a new DVD version of “The Quiet Man,” the classic 1952 John Ford movie with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, and discovered something new.
In the audio feature that lets you hear Maureen O’Hara comment as you watch, O’Hara reveals that the movie’s wedding toast was censored, in part.
Right after Sean Thornton (Wayne) and Mary Kate Danaher (O’Hara) are married, the local lawyer Hugh Forbes (played by O’Hara’s brother Charles FitzSimons) holds up a glass:
“Then, a toast:
“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 [empty pause] freedom.”
But I had noticed previously the odd pause, the odd catch in his voice, as Forbes says “may they live in peace and … freedom.” There’s a weak sound to it, in contrast to the sound in the rest of the dialogue.
Well, O’Hara explained it.
Studio decision. According to the actress, the original line was “may they live in peace and national freedom.” And after the movie was done, the executives at Republic Pictures decided “national freedom” in Ireland was too controversial a concept.
The studio deleted it, O’Hara said.
“It didn’t make sense to me,” she said, “but there’s always somebody who has strong feelings about certain things.”
The Troubles. “The Quiet Man” takes place in Ireland, the predominantly Catholic country (but not including predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland), in the 1920s or 1930s, when Ireland had semi-independent “dominion” status under Great Britain.
Ireland declared full independence in 1948, but the IRA and others still claimed Northern Ireland as part of the nation of Ireland. Northern Ireland, however, remained part of Great Britain.
The unresolved political dispute is why a wish that a couple live in “peace and national freedom” became a wish that they live simply in “peace and … freedom.”
Beauty remains. At least they preserved the most important word, and it’s a beautiful movie all the same.