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Back Then: Naughty words that shocked actor John Wayne

Sixty years on film fans still don't know what O'Hara said to Wayne

By Eddie McIlwaine

Published 21/04/2015

John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man
John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man

Not for the first time Michael McAdam - the man with a passion for the cinema and films that hit at the heart - will be putting on The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, in his Movie Houses this summer.

It's 60 years since the blockbuster was first screened in Belfast in 1955 after being shot on location at Cong, in the Republic, over the previous three years.

And as the diamond anniversary of the epic is remembered, the mystery of the words Maureen whispered in Wayne's ear at one stage of the shooting remains unsolved.

Wayne and O'Hara never revealed the content of that naughty piece of dialogue she was ordered to say to the Duke (Wayne's nickname) by director John Ford.

All Maureen, now 94, admitted at the time and since is that it was an expression she would never have used in real life, especially to her famous co-star.

Ford, who never told a soul what the line he dreamt up was - it never appeared in the script - only explained that it was an expression out of the blue to shock Wayne into a look of disbelief required for a particular scene.

"Now every time the film is brought out of the archives for a viewing the audience look out for that shocked Wayne face," says McAdam.

However, no one will ever know what Maureen had to whisper - Ford and Wayne are dead and the lady of the great age remains tight lipped.

But there is another reason why McAdam plans to revive The Quiet Man yet again. You see, the short story by Irish novelist Maurice Walsh first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post 80 years ago, in 1935, and later the same year in a book of Irish yarns, originally called Green Rushes before the title was changed to The Quiet Man and Other Stories.

He feels the anniversary of a book that is read to this day is worth recalling too.

Appletree Press published a modern version of the book in 1992 and copies of it and the original tome are sought after by collectors.

The story of retired boxer Sean Thornton (the role Wayne played in the movie) was an instant success in the 30s for Walsh who died in 1964, but the film version didn't go down well in its early years in the Republic.

Critics frowned on the way it appeared to depict Ireland as a poor country where women were second class.

Why late crooner Ronnie was hoping that X wouldn't mark the spot

One of Ronnie Carroll's ambitions was that as a general election candidate he would set a UK record by recording no votes at a poll.

Well, the singer who died a couple of weeks ago nearly got his wish when he got just 29 votes as a Make Politicians History representative in Hampstead in the last election.

But now as the late Ronnie Carroll, this pop veteran has a chance of making that dream of nil votes come true at next month's General Election.

By a quirk of election law, Ronnie's name must remain on the list of candidates even though he is dead. The Northern Ireland native was put forward once again in Hampstead by his agent Rainbow George Weiss before his recent death from cancer at the age of 80.

So on polling day voters will be able to put their X at the name of a dead man if they so desire. But surely commonsense will dominate the scene and the late Ronnie's last wish will happen.

It's the sort of crazy situation Ronnie would love. You never know, of course. People are funny. The voters in Hampstead could put a dead man into Parliament.

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