And the Oscar-winning director also told how he gets angry at critics who frown on the scene in the movie where John Wayne drags a protesting Maureen O’Hara through the village.
In the new TG4 feature-length documentary — Dreaming the Quiet Man to mark the 60th anniversary of the iconic movie, filmmaker Sé Merry Doyle delves behind the story of the making of John Ford’s film portraying his idealised version of Ireland.
In the documentary, Martin Scorsese said the chemistry between Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne when they kiss during a storm would stand up to any modern-day movie.
He said Maureen O’Hara’s portrayal of a feisty, flame-haired siren in the film made the love scene between her and the ultimate movie star John Wayne much more potent.
He said: “The power of the woman in the motion picture is very strong and the nature of her resistance results in one of the greatest moments of all cinema.”
The New Yorker also told how he agrees with fellow Oscar winner Jack Nicholson about the magic of Irish scripts, especially The Quiet Man.
He said: “It is poetry. It was Jack Nicholson who said, when we were doing The Departed — ‘God gave the Irish the words and Italians the music’.
“I said ‘OK’. It’s Jack’s idea but listening to the words I said ‘yeah’. You just listen to it and it sounds like music and that film is filled with it, The Quiet Man. ”
But he said he gets angered at people objecting to the scene in the Cong-based movie where John Wayne drags Maureen O’Hara’s character through the town to the delight of onlooking villagers.
“It gets me angry to think people judging it and against it in this way when you don’t know where it comes from and who they are. You are taking it as a movie. It’s not a movie. It is a story and a work of art and a work of poetry and very unique and beautiful.”
Maureen O’Hara also gives an in-depth account of her time filming in Mayo with the movie giants John Ford and John Wayne. The actress recalls having to go to hospital after damaging her hand when she slaps John Wayne’s face during their first on-screen kiss in the movie.
She also names John Ford as one of the greatest directors of all time.
* John Ford: Dreaming the Quiet Man, will air on TG4 tomorrow night at 10.15pm.