Hollywood returns to Cong for romantic comedy about making of 'The Quiet Man'

Wed, Feb 17, 2010, 00:00

SIX DECADES after Hollywood came to Connemara, a fictional film about the making of The Quiet Manis to be made in the village where the 1952 classic was filmed.

Former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore, Aidan Quinn and Geraldine Chaplin have signed up for the “romantic comedy”, based on the impact of director John Ford’s arrival in Cong, on the Galway-Mayo border.

Moore, returning to the screen after a 10-year gap, is also executive producer of the film, Connemara Days, which is to be directed by Kevin Connor and produced by Belfast company Causeway Pictures with support from Fáilte Ireland.

Stacy Keach, star of Escape from LA, will play director John Ford, who arrived in Cong in 1951 with the “Duke” John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. As The Irish TimesPictorial Weekly correspondent Nouvelliste reported in July 1951, electricity had arrived into Cong just a week before, and locals were paid 30 shillings a day to work as extras.

In Dublin, there were queues for fuel, for jobs, for almost everything, The Irish Timesnoted, but in Cong they were “queuing for crisp pound notes”.

Nouvelliste, who spent the day on the set, was unsuccessful in his efforts to get hired for a “street scene” – wryly noting that Cong only had “two streets” in any case.

The Connemara Daysplot concerns an 18-year-old girl, Heather O’Dea, who falls for one of Ford’s assistant directors. Also lined up to act in the film are Sarah Bolger ( In America) and Thomas Dekker ( Sarah Connor Chronicles). In a statement issued yesterday by Fáilte Ireland, Moore said he was very excited to be part of a “delightful project”.

The Quiet Manwas undoubtedly the best movie John Ford ever directed. It is also one of my all-time favourite films,” he said.

“The opportunity to revisit the time when Hollywood arrived in Ireland to shoot it was simply too delicious an opportunity to miss.”

The script, based on a novel by Steve Mayhew, has been described as “excellent” by director Kevin Connor, who also directed Marco Poloand Black Beard, among other films.

“From the moment I first read the script, I loved it,” Connor said. “Steve Mayhew has blended a terrific story of the reaction of a rural community to Hollywood’s biggest stars arriving, added to the looming electrification of the region, to produce a touching, funny and endearing screenplay in the mould of the great Ealing comedy classics.”

Fáilte Ireland says the film will provide a much-needed economic stimulus in the region.