‘The Quiet Man’: Maureen O’Hara Broke Her Wrist After Trying to ‘Sock’ John Wayne in the Jaw

John Ford’s movie sets typically came with many stories to tell. In the case of The Quiet Man, Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne had a disagreement that left her particularly angry. She tried to “sock” him in the jaw in the middle of the scene but ultimately only broke her wrist in the process. O’Hara believed that the incident on The Quiet Man was overblown by later accounts, so she wanted to finally set the record straight.

Maureen O’Hara slapped John Wayne in ‘The Quiet Man’

'The Quiet Man' John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Wayne's wearing a trench coat and yanking O'Hara by the arm toward him, who is wearing an apron.
L-R: John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara | Republic Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

The Quiet Man tells the Irish love story between Sean Thornton (Wayne) and Mary Kate (O’Hara). The film remains a classic in many circles, especially due to some truly iconic sequences. One of the most memorable is the kiss that the two leads share in the White O’Morn with wind machines going for maximum effect.

This particular scene finds Mary Kate trying to flee from the house, but Sean yanks her back inside. He kisses her as she attempts to get away from him. However, Mary Kate ultimately settles into the kiss as they passionately embrace one another. Nevertheless, she then slaps him in the face for his actions. It’s an iconic scene that ultimately resulted in some behind-the-scenes drama.

Maureen O’Hara broke her wrist and had to go to the hospital

According to John Nicoletti and O’Hara’s ‘Tis Herself: A Memoir, the actor told all about the slap in The Quiet Man. She was “mad as hell” at Wayne and Ford for something that they did earlier that day, although she didn’t go into detail on that. Therefore, O’Hara made the decision to “sock Duke in the jaw and really let him have it,” but that’s not quite how things worked out. Wayne saw it coming and put his hand up to shield his chin and her hand hit the top of his fingers and “snapped back.”

“My plan backfired and my hand hurt like hell,” O’Hara admitted. “I knew I had really hurt it and tried to hide it in the red petticoat I was wearing. Duke came over and said, ‘Let me see that hand. You nearly broke my jaw.’ He lifted it out of hiding; each one of my fingers had blown up like a sausage.”

O’Hara had to leave the set of The Quiet Man and go to the local hospital for X-rays.

She concluded: “I had a hairline fracture in one of the bones in my wrist, but in the end. got no sympathy. I was taken back to the set and put to work.”

John Ford kept using a wind machine on the actor

O’Hara wasn’t kidding when she said that The Quiet Man didn’t slow down for her injury. Additionally, co-stars and the filmmaker continued to get on one another’s last nerve from time to time, which she called a “natural” occurrence. Ford continued to use wind machines in other sequences, including the Innisfree horse-race scene. This time, he had the wind machine blowing her hair forward instead of away from her face. The hair simply wouldn’t stop hitting her face and eyeballs, so she continued to blink throughout the scene.

Ford yelled at O’Hara while filming The Quiet Man about why she couldn’t keep her eyes open and why she couldn’t get the scene right. She finally had it and snapped at him, which nobody on the set expected. Fortunately, Ford broke out into laughter, and the rest of the cast followed his lead.

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