Throughout human history, pirates have been enshrined as rebellious heroes who have fought against conformity. During the 1930’s and 1940’s, films about pirates and their adventures were the rage.
In 1942, The Black Swanwas released. Upon taking the oath of office as Governor of Jamaica, Henry Morgan (Laird Cregar) announces that pirating is now illegal. He turns to former collaborators to clean up the Caribbean. One of his collaborators, Jamie Waring (Tyrone Power) does not exactly follow the new governor’s orders.
He kidnaps Lady Margaret Denby (Maureen O’Hara). He expects her to be a shrinking violet. But Lady Margaret is not what she seems to be. While their relationship quickly develops into a love/hate relationship, Jamie joins the rebels who are not so eager to give up pirating.
Part of me loves this movie. It’s a great action flick, with plenty of adventure and thrills to keep the audience in their seats. Power and O’Hara have great chemistry. I love that Margaret has a fire and an energy that few female characters (especially in this genre) were allowed to posses in that era.
The other part of me wishes that I had a time machine to go back in time and make certain changes. Margaret is the only female character, kept in the box of the love interest. The other issue is that pirating, especially in 17th and 18th centuries, was not as glamorous as this film makes it out to be.
A good romantic comedy is sometimes hard to find. It shouldn’t be too predictable, but it also has to contain recognizable characters and narratives.
In the 1991 movie, Only The Lonely, Danny Muldoon (the late John Candy) is a single, middle-aged cop living with his widowed mother, Rose (the late Maureen O’Hara), who is the textbook helicopter parent. When he meets Theresa Luna (Ally Sheedy), a shy funeral worker, sparks begin to fly. But Rose’s years of helicopter parenting have become part of Danny’s psyche and he begins to worry more about his mother than his girlfriend.
This movie is one of my all time favorite romantic comedies. Every filmmaker looking to make a romantic comedy should be required to see this film. It is funny, it is charming and while it does contain the standard genre characters and narratives, it is not the typical romantic comedy. One of my favorite aspects of this film was the casting of Anthony Quinn who plays Nick Acropolis, one of Danny’s neighbors who is sweet on his mother. As a classic movie fan, it’s wonderful to see Anthony Quinn and Maureen O’Hara back on-screen together.
With her red hair, peaches and cream complexion and fiery tongue, she played against some of the most masculine and iconic actors of her day: John Wayne, Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn.
Two of my favorite movies of hers are diametrically opposite.
The first is The Quiet Man (1952). Sean Thornton (John Wayne) is an American boxer returning to his family’s ancestral Irish village. He is attracted to Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), and is eager to marry her. But before Mary Kate will agree to marry Sean, he must obtain her dowry from her hard headed brother, who is refusing to part with it.
One of my favorite qualities of her character is in this movie is that Mary Kate is no shrinking violet. She knows what she wants and has no problem speaking her mind to get what she wants.
My other favorite Maureen O’Hara movie is Only The Lonely (1991). Danny Muldoon (the late John Candy) is a single man whose life is dominated by loving, but overbearing mother, Rose (Maureen O’Hara). It is only when he meets Theresa Luna (Ally Sheedy), that Danny could possibly stop his mother from treating him like a child.
It is obvious that Rose loves her son, like a parent should. But like some parents, they forget that their adult children have their own minds and are capable of making their own decisions.
In 1952, he decides to change movie genres. Re-paired with frequent leading lady Maureen O’ Hara, they were cast in the John Ford film, The Quiet Man.
Sean Thornton (John Wayne) was born in Ireland, but left with his family as a young child. A generation later, he returned as an American boxer to reclaim his family’s land and move on from the past. He does not expect to fall in love with and marry Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara). Their relationship gets off to a rocky start and is not helped by Mary Kate’s ill tempered brother, Squire “Red” Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), who is determined to keep them apart.
I have mixed feelings about this movie. While I love this on-screen pairing, I have to remind myself that this movie was made in 1952. But the chemistry between the Wayne and O’Hara is electric.The fact that this movie was filmed on location and not on a sound stage just adds another level of reality to this film.
Maureen O’Hara is a movie legend. The list of her leading men include John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Tyrone Power.
Aubrey Malone’s biography, Maureen O’Hara: The Biography follows Ms’ O Hara’s life from her childhood in Dublin through her decades long movie career to her present retired state.
Born in 1920 in the suburbs of Dublin, she made her screen debut in the late 1930’s. The movies she made are all very different: family classics (The Parent Trap, 1961, Miracle on 34th St, 1947), technicolor pirate and sword and sandal adventures (The Black Swan, 1942, Sinbad The Sailor, 1947) and Westerns (The Redhead From Wyoming, 1953, McClintock, 1963).
The book not only sheds light on her career, but on her private life. Unlike many of her colleagues, Ms. O’Hara lived a very quiet life, keeping her personal life out of the headlines. Compiling press clippings, movie reviews and film journals, Mr. Malone presents a complete picture of a performer whom many did not know about outside of her films.
I recommend this book.
On a related note, if there is one movie of her vast career that I would recommend, it would be Only The Lonely .
Made in 1991, Ms. O’Hara took herself out of retirement for this movie. She plays Rose Muldoon, the very overprotective mother to her son Danny (the late John Candy). Danny has sacrificed himself for his mother and brother (Kevin Dunn). When Danny meets Theresa Luna (Ally Sheedy) and starts fall in love with her, he finds himself torn between his mother and his girlfriend. Very sweet movie that just tugs at the heart strings.