Matinee Monday: Maureen O’Hara


Given that she had been off of radar from many years, I did not know that Maureen O’Hara was still with us until she left us Saturday, at the age of 95. Everybody and his cousin is doing a tribute to O’Hara, and given that I am another of the millions smitten by her films, why should I be any different?

The facts of her life can be read in most news websites, so I won’t get into all the factoids that can be so fascinating, but rather mention three classic movies that round out the idea of “Maureen O’Hara” to me.

In 1961, Disney released a movie that set the hearts of millions of boys like me, teetering on the edge of approaching puberty, aflutter: The Parent Trap. Oh my stars and garters, Hayley Mills! Two of them! And the mother? Maureen O’Hara. Yes, the draw for The Parent Trap was Hayley Mills, But the reason to stay was the love story between the two great actors who played her parents, Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara. The Parent Trap was my first introduction to O’Hara; yes, I know that she was an established actor with many film roles to her credit, but I was only 11 years old, and my awareness of cinema ran to only what was au courant. 

Next, Christmas movies. I love Christmas movies, and starting next month, I will drive my family crazy with two months of holiday movies. You can count on The Miracle of 34th Street being one of the first. Again, cast as a divorced mother in Mo34, O’Hara is the cynical mother of no-nonsense Susan (Natalie Wood) who hires a man to be the Macy’s Santa Claus and dismayed to find out he claims to be the real Santa Claus. It is well-known around the CSL household that I love schmaltz, and the transformation of O’Hara’s character in Mo34 gets me every year. I love that movie, not for Natalie Woods, but for O’Hara.

Tell the truth: when you read the news that Maureen O’Hara died on Saturday, the first thing that passed through your mind was The Quiet Man, wasn’t it? For a woman who created many iconic roles, the iconic-est was that of Mary Kate Danaher, right? She will forever be remembered as the fiery Irish lass who gave John Wayne as good as she got, scene for scene, in The Quiet Man. I think it is a tribute to the film’s greatness that, even in today’s PC climate, the scene where Wayne drags O’Hara over half the county and is offered a stick “to beat the lovely lady”, we don’t get offended.

The Quiet Man was O’hara’s favorite from her oeuvre and John Wayne was her favorite leading man, so it is only fitting that I leave you with O’Hara’s defining image:

(Oh, and since O’hara was proudly Irish, Erin Go Bragh!)



Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

6 responses to “Matinee Monday: Maureen O’Hara

  1. My first thought associated with Maureen O’Hara is my mother. My mom loved to watch movies and we would spend Sunday afternoon glued to the old movies Channel 4 played. I was the only teen in my HS that could successfully identify not only 1940’s A list actors, but the B list, as well. Another thing about my mom is that her fondness for an actor had a direct correlation to their personal, off-screen, integrity. Maureen O’Hara had an impeccable reputation, a class act. (Oh, and may I suggest my favorite Christmas movie? 1970’s musical, Scrooge, with Albert Finney.) Thanks, CSL!


  2. The Quiet Man is a special one for my husband and me.When we began dating, he wanted to share his beloved John Wayne with me. I don’t care much for movies with guns, so although I watched the movies with him, I didn’t like them much. This movie, however, was a perfect blend of my husband’s love for John Wayne movies and my love of a good love story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. IntimacySeeker

    “I think it is a tribute to the film’s greatness that, even in today’s PC climate, the scene where Wayne drags O’Hara over half the county and is offered a stick “to beat the lovely lady”, we don’t get offended.”

    I certainly hope I am misunderstanding your meaning here. We should be offended and disturbed by any inference to beating women (or men). BTW, this month is designated by our president as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


      • IntimacySeeker

        Ah. Are you saying we are so caught up in the outstanding elements of the film, we MISS (don’t even notice) that “to beat the lovely lady” line? I was assuming we noticed and didn’t even flinch.

        There is a line in “That Touch of Mink” that makes me ill. Doris Day says something like, “I’m not even pretty enough to be attacked!”

        Sigh… Sneaky media!


      • Yeah, pretty much so. Our reverence for The Duke, our joy in the Irish characters of Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald, our participation in the loving nostalgia of John Ford’s portrayal of a by-gone Ireland, and a strong and compelling story pretty much carry us through and make the line come across as more humorous than ominous.

        But I know that, great as The Quiet Man is, it could never be made today. So many people would have their knickers in a knot over that one line that Ford, the great director that he was, would never be able to make another movie.

        Many years ago, I observed, “Sermonizing is the sin of the deadly earnest, no matter what political or theological stripes they wear.”©


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