John Wayne: How ‘The Quiet Man’ Led to the Creation of Another Classic Western

by Halle Ames

How did John Wayne’s hit movie The Quiet Man lead to the creation of another classic western for our beloved cowboy? Glad you asked.

Issues to Success for John Wayne

Hollywood’s biggest stars, Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne, joined forces for their most prolific love story in the 1952 film, The Quiet Man. The two met in 1941 and became close friends and arguably even closer.

“They [Wayne and O’Hara] had the perfect professional relationship,” John Ford said. “They understood each other as actors, and they had tremendous respect for one another but never in any personal, romantic way.”

Together, under the direction of John Ford, the film struggled to find a studio to create the piece. Many studios saw the plotline as “a silly little Irish story” and would not pick up the movie because they thought it “wouldn’t make a penny.”

Both John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara joked that if the film didn’t find a studio soon, they would be too old to play their respective roles.

Furthermore, according to a 2020 article from Irish Central, John Wayne convinced the director, Ford, to let him take the film concept to Republic Studios “that they stood any chance and the opportunity would only be given them if they struck a deal.”

However, Republic Studio said that they would only create The Quiet Man if Wayne, O’Hara, and Ford all agreed to work together on a black and white western. It also had to be created first to generate money for the bust they assumed The Quiet Man would be.

‘Rio Grande’ vs ‘The Quiet Man’

So, this is how we came to have the 1950 western romance, Rio Grande. It actually has a worse rating on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb than its looked-down upon counterpart, The Quiet Man.

Despite the initial mess, The Quiet Man was a massive success. It received 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.7 out of 10 on IMDb. Rio Grande, however, only had a 75 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.1 out of 10 on IMDb.

Additionally, Rio Grande had a budget of $1.2 million and generated $2.25 million at the box office. While The Quiet Man had a budget of $1.75 million and raked in over $3.8 million at the box office.

So, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, and John Ford laughed all the way to the bank. Their beloved film was seen as a bust before the cameras were even rolling. The joke is on them. Even though unfortunately all three of the stars have since passed on.