Portrait of actor John Wayne stands where he filmed The Quiet Man.
DREAMING THE QUIET MAN (Sé Merry Doyle). See listings. Rating: NN
We associate Stagecoach director John Ford with the forbidding landscape of Monument Valley, not the rolling hills of Ireland. Sé Merry Doyle's Dreaming The Quiet Man is a trifling documentary that aims to reclaim the great American director as a Gaelic bhoyo by blood: he was born with the Irish name John Martin Feeney.
The Toronto Irish Film Festival's opening-night film recounts Ford's return to Ireland during the making of 1952's The Quiet Man. Irish locals and historians all insist on Ford's affection for his parents' native land, but true or false, this emphasis speaks more to the filmmaker's objectives than to his subject.
The Quiet Man star Maureen O'Hara provides amusing insights into how difficult Ford could be, while The Last Picture Show director Peter Bogdanovich recalls how much he despised discussing his work - meaning he'd probably disapprove of this documentary.
Everyone ends up debating the merits of The Quiet Man and its individual scenes, but what we should be watching is The Quiet Man itself, not a supplement that might qualify as a DVD extra instead of a feature.
Screens Friday (March 9) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.