In an exclusive interview with Blu-ray.com’s Jeffrey Kauffman, Olive Films‘ Head of Acquisitions, Frank Tarzi, confirmed what every fan of Ford’s lyrical Irish odyssey has been hoping for:  The Quiet Man is indeed being remastered for an imminent Blu-ray release.

The Quiet Man poster

The Quiet Man to be finally dragged onto Blu-ray.

Why has it taken so long?  Tarzi explains in the following excerpt from Blu-ray.com (click to read Kauffman’s full interview).

One of the most eagerly talked about Republic titles is The Quiet Man. Can you confirm that’s coming out on Blu-ray?

Yes, I’m able to confirm that. But there’s a lot of work to be done on it. I’d love for it to come out this year, but I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen.

What kind of work needs to be done?

Well a 3-strip Technicolor film like The Quiet Man needs special care. We’ve done a 4K scan off the original negative from the studio’s archives but that’s just the beginning. There’s a very complicated re- mastering process that needs to be done for a Technicolor film like this and we want to get it right.

Although original elements of The Quiet Man were restored by UCLA in the 1980s, the resulting DVD transfers have been less than stellar, making this news most welcome.  No word on a precise release date was revealed, nor anything pertaining to supplemental material, including subtitles (see Tarzi’s comments regarding their infrequent inclusion on Olive releases) or the possibility of a deal to package the feature with the recent documentary, Dreaming the Quiet Man.  One can only hope.

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The Sun Shines Bright scene still

Not to be overshadowed by this glamorous news, it has also been revealed that Ford’s complex and lyrical look at small town, post-Civil War America, The Sun Shines Bright (1953), is finally slated for a Region 1 DVD and possible Blu-ray release by Olive.

His first film after the international success of The Quiet Man, The Sun Shines Bright was often cited by Ford as his personal favorite.  The film confirms Ford’s M.O. for turning to more personal fare after a hit and is an example of that “small story, made in a kitchen”—Ford’s words to describe his preferred approach.  After nearly twenty years, Ford reacquaints us with the titular American folkloric character immortalized by Will Rogers in Judge Priest (1934), this time played by veteran character actor, Charles Winninger.  Based on the stories by Irvin S. Cobb about a fictional, post-Civil War Kentucky community, both Judge Priest and The Sun Shines Bright depict the gentle guile with which Judge William “Billy” Priest  mediates conflicts both humorous and melancholy he encounters among a populace badly needing saving from itself.

Further connecting the two films is pioneer African American comedian, Lincoln Perry (aka Stepin Fetchit) who rejoined Ford after a long, professional hiatus between the two.  A controversial performer to this day, by the 1950s Fetchit was virtually unemployed, having written Ford pleading with the director to hire him at a time when no one else would.  Ford cast Fetchit once again as Billy Priest’s wily aide-de-camp, Jeff Poindexter.

Just as he never was one to forget a performer foundering on hard times, Ford also never forgot a slight or interference.  The Sun Shines Bright hedges any tendency toward nostalgia by revealing the violence resulting from the town’s divisive prejudice in an attempted lynching scene, similar to one which Ford had shot for the earlier film but which 20th Century Fox  producers deleted out of fear it would harm bookings in Southern states.  However, the darkest moments in the film may likely be those where Ford peers in the cracks of the rigid community facade, crumbling before the future and revealing the often pitiful stubborn clinging to tradition that locks people away from their fellow man and the flow of life.

Though The Sun Shines Bright is slowly gaining critical appreciation it yet retains some stigma of the controversy surrounding its handling of race.  Like the dragging of a woman through the fields of Erin in The Quiet Man, the misconception that Ford is endorsing or condoning stereotyping seems supported not only by the presence of Stepin Fetchit, who many in the 1950s were (as now) so embarrassed by they wished he’d remained unemployable, but also by the overall tone of the film, which lacks any condemning thrust.  This is perhaps due to unwillingness to abide with Ford’s characteristic style, wherein he rarely turns his camera into a judgmental or punitive instrument—nor even a distancing one.  Ford’s camera “eye” does not gaze down on uncomfortable subjects with censorious superiority, but typically remains poised at a companionable level with its characters (though the characters themselves are often peering out at life through windows and portals), connecting the audience intimately with a past imperfect and inescapable.  This technique, if you will, that makes pleasing characters like Jane Darwell’s Mrs. Joad seem so warm and close to us, ironically raises a barrier to many modern audiences accustomed to finger-wagging at characters pocked with select flaws such as those found in The Searchers…or The Sun Shines Bright.

It is my hope the release of The Sun Shines Bright on DVD/Blu-ray will open the door to some fresh and less hostile examination of Ford’s style that stubbornly refuses to yield to pigeon-holing.

Links:

Blu-ray.com’s Jeff Kauffman’s interview with Olive Film’s Frank Tarzi

Olive Films official website

Rouge.com article on The Sun Shines Bright

Senses of Cinema article on The Sun Shines Bright

Jonathan Rosenbaum video essay comparing The Sun Shines Bright with Dreyer’s Gertrud

 

Complete list of Republic titles slated for release by Olive Films:

Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958) Jodie Copelan Scott Brady, Clint Eastwood, Margie Dean
Americano, The (1955) William Castle Glenn Ford, Frank Lovejoy, Cesar Romero
Angel and the Badman (1947) James Edward Grant John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey, Bruce Cabot
Arch of Triumph (1948) Lewis Milestone Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Charles Laughton, Louis Calhern
Armored Attack (1943) aka The North Star Lewis Milestone Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Farley Granger
Atomic Kid, The (1954) Leslie H. Martinson Mickey Rooney, Robert Strauss
Bamboo Saucer, The (1968) Frank Telford Dan Duryea, James Hong
Bang! Bang! You’re Dead! (1966) Don Sharp Tony Randall, Senta Berger, Terry-Thomas, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski
Bells of St. Mary, The (1945) Leo McCarey Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman
Beware, My Lovely (1952) Harry Horner Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan
Blood on the Sun (1945) Frank Lloyd James Cagney, Sylvia Sidney
Blowing Wild (1953) Hugo Fregonese Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Anthony Quinn, Ward Bond
Breakthrough (1979) Andrew V. McLaglen Richard Burton, Rod Steiger, Robert Mitchum
Bullfighter and the Lady, The (1951) Budd Boetticher Robert Stack, Joy Page, Gilbert Roland, Katy Jurado
Cadence (1990) Martin Sheen Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Larry Fishburne
Caught (1949) Max Ophuls James Mason, Barbara Bel Geddes, Robert Ryan
Cauldron of Blood (1970) AKA Blind Man’s Bluff Santos Alcocer Jean-Pierre Aumont, Boris Karloff, Viveca Lindfors
Champion (1949) Mark Robson Kirk Douglas, Marilyn Maxwell, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart
China Gate (1957) Samuel Fuller Gene Barry, Angie Dickenson, Nat King Cole, Lee Van Cleef
City That Never Sleeps (1953) John H. Auer Gig Young, Mala Powers, Chill Wills
Cloak and Dagger (1946) Fritz Lang Gary Cooper, Lilli Palmer, Robert Alda
Copacabana (1947) Alfred E. Green Groucho Marx, Carmen Miranda
Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, The (1955) Otto Preminger Gary Cooper, Rod Steiger
Crashout (1955) Lewis R. Foster William Bendix, Arthur Kennedy, Gene Evans
Cry Danger (1951) Robert Parrish Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming
Cry Vengeance (1954) Mark Stevens Mark Stevens
Cujo (1983) Lewis Teague Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro
Dakota (1945) Joseph Kane John Wayne, Vera Ralston, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, Mike Mazurki
Dark Command (1940) Raoul Walsh John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Roy Rogers, Walter Pidgeon
Devil and Miss Jones, The (1941) Sam Wood Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, Charles Coburn, Edmund Gwenn
Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) Jean Renoir Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, Judith Anderson
Distant Drums (1951) Raoul Walsh Gary Cooper, Mari Aldon
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965) Freddie Francis Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough
Enforcer, The (1951) Bretaigne Windust Humphrey Bogart, Zero Mostel
Father Goose (1964) Ralph Nelson Cary Grant, Leslie Caron
Fighter Attack (1953) Lesley Selander Sterling Hayden, J. Carrol Naish, Joy Page
Fighting Kentuckian, The (1949) George Waggner John Wayne, Vera Ralston, Oliver Hardy, Philip Dorn
Fighting Seabees, The (1944) Edward Ludwig John Wayne, Susan Hayward
Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956) Cy Roth Anthony Dexter, Susan Shaw
Flame of Barbary Coast (1945) Joseph Kane John Wayne, Ann Dvorak, Virginia Grey, Paul Fix
Flat Top (1952) Lesley Selander Sterling Hayden, Richard Carlson
Flying Tigers (1942) David Miller John Wayne, John Carroll
Frontier Horizon (1939) AKA New Frontier George Sherman John Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Rymond Hatton, Jennifer Jones
Girl Who Knew Too Much, The (1969) Francis D. Lyon Adam West, Nancy Kwan, Robert Alda
Good Sam (1948) Leo McCarey Gary Cooper, Ann Sheridan
Grass is Greener, The (1960) Stanley Donen Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons
Guest Wife (1945) Sam Wood Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche
Hanger 18 (1980) James L. Conway Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn, Gary Collins, Joseph Campanella, Pamela Bellwood
Hell’s Half Acre (1954) John H. Auer Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes, Elsa Lanchester, Marie Windsor
High School Confidential (1958) Jack Arnold Russ Tamblyn, Jan Sterling
Highlander II (1991) Both Versions Russell Mulcahy Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Virginia Madsen, Michael Ironside
Home of the Brave (1949) Mark Robson Jeff Corey, James Edwards, Lloyd Bridges, Frank Lovejoy
Hoodlum Empire (1952) Joseph Kane Brian Donlevy, Claire Trevor, Forrest Tucker, Gene Lockhart
I’ve Always Loved You (1946) Frank Borzage Philip Dorn, Catherine McLeod
In Old California (1942) William C. McGann John Wayne, Binnie Barnes, Albert Dekker
Indiscreet (1958) Stanley Donen Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman
Ironweed (1987) Hector Babenco Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep
Irreconcilable Differences (1984) Charles Shyer Ryan O’Neal, Shelley Long, Drew Barrymore
It’s in the Bag! (1945) Richard Wallace Fred Allen, Jack Benny
Johnny Come Lately (1943) William K. Howard James Cagney, Grace George
Julius Caesar (1970) Stuart Burge Charlton Heston, Jason Robards
King of the Pecos (1936) Joseph Kane John Wayne, Muriel Evans, Cy Kendall
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) Gordon Douglas James Cagney, Barbara Payton, Ward Bond
Lady For a Night (1942) Leigh Jason John Wayne, Joan Blondell
Lady From Louisiana (1941) Bernard Vorhaus John Wayne, One Munson
Lady Takes a Chance, A (1943) William A. Seiter John Wayne, Jean Arthur, Charles Winninger, Phil Silvers
Last Command, The (1955) Frank Lloyd Sterling Hayden, Ernest Borgnine
Lawless Nineties, The (1936) Joseph Kane John Wayne, Ann Rutherford, Gabby Hayes
Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, The (1974) Richard Friedenberg Dan Haggerty, Don Shanks
Live Nude Girls (1995) Julianna Lavin Dana Delany, Kim Cattrall
Lonely Trail, The (1936) Joseph Kane John Wayne, Ann Rutherford
Lost Moment, The (1947) Martin Gabel Robert Cummings, Susan Hayward
Lost Planet Airmen (1952) Fred C. Brannon Tristram Coffin, Mae Clark, Don Haggerty
Love Happy (1949) David Miller Marx Brothers, Marilyn Monroe
Magic Christian, The (1969) Joseph McGrath Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr
Magic Town (1947) William Wellman James Stewart, Jane Wyman
Magnificent Doll (1946) Frank Borzage Ginger Rogers, David Niven, Burgess Meredith
Man Alone, A (1955) Ray Milland Ray Milland, Ward Bond, Raymond Burr, Lee Van Cleef, Alan Hale Jr.
Man Betrayed, A (1941) aka Wheel of Fortune John H. Auer John Wayne, Frances Dee, Ward Bond
Marjorie Morningstar (1958) Irving Rapper Gene Kelly, Natalie Wood, Claire Trevor
Men, The (1950) Fred Zinnemann Marlon Brando, Teresa Wright, Jack Webb
Miracle of the Bells, The (1948) Irvin Pichel Fred MacMurray, Frank Sinatra, Alida Valli
Monster Squad, The (1987) Fred Dekker Andre Gower, Tom Noonan
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) Irvin Pichel William Powell, Ann Blyth
New Frontier, The (1935) George Sherman John Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Raymond Hatton, Jennifer Jones
Night of the Demons 2 (1994) Brian Trenchard-Smith Cristi Harris, Darin Heames
Night of the Scarecrow (1995) Jeff Burr Elizabeth Barondes, John Mese
One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942) Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman
One Touch of Venus (1948) William A. Seiter Robert Walker, Ava Gardner
Only the Valiant (1951) Gordon Douglas Gregory Peck, Barbara Payton, Ward Bond, Gig Young
Operation Petticoat (1959) Blake Edwards Cary Grant, Tony Curtis
Oregon Trail (1936) Scott Pembroke John Wayne, Ann Rutherford
Other Love, The (1947) Andre De Toth Barbara Stanwyck, David Niven, Richard Conte, Gilbert Roland
Outrage (1950) Ida Lupino Mala Powers, Tod Andrews
Pals of the Saddle (1938) George Sherman John Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune
Pawnbroker, The (1964) Sidney Lumet Rod Steiger, Geraldine Fitzgerald
Penny Serenade (1941) George Stevens Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Beulah Bondi
Plunder Road (1957) Hubert Cornfield Gene Raymond, Jeanne Cooper, Elisha Cook Jr.
Quiet Man, The (1952) John Ford John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara
Ramrod (1947) Andre De Toth Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Don DeFore, Donald Crisp, Lloyd Bridges
Red Menace, The (1949) R.G. Springsteen Robert Rockwell, Hannelore Axman
Red Pony, The (1949) Lewis Milestone Myrna Loy, Robert Mitchum
Retreat, Hell! (1952) Joseph H. Lewis Frank Lovejoy, Richard Carlson, Anita Louise, Russ Tamblyn
Reuben, Reuben (1983) Robert Ellis Miller Tom Conti, Kelly McGillis, Roberts Blossom
Running Man, The (1987) Paul Michael Glaser Arnold Schwarzenegger, Yaphet Kotto
Ruthless (1948) Edgar G. Ulmer Zachary Scott, Sidney Greenstreet
Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) Allan Dwan John Wayne, John Agar
Santa Fe Stampede (1938) George Sherman John Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Max Terhune
Shack Out on 101 (1955) Edward Dein Terry Moore, Lee Marvin, Frank Lovejoy, Keenan Wynn
Shark! (1969) Samuel Fuller Burt Reynolds, Arthur Kennedy
She Devil (1957) Kurt Neumann Mari Blanchard, Jack Kelly, Albert Dekker
Showdown at Boothill (1958) Gene Fowler Jr. Charles Bronson, Robert Hutton, John Carradine
Sleep My Love (1948) Douglas Sirk Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, Robert Cummings
So This is New York (1948) Richard Fleischer Henry Morgan, Rudy Vallee, Bill Goodwin
South of St. Louis (1949) Ray Enright Joel McCrea, Alexis Smith, Zachary Scott, Dorothy Malone
Stranger on the Prowl (1952) Joseph Losey Paul Muni, Joan Lorring
Strangers in the Night (1944) Anthony Mann William Terry, Virginia Grey
Sun Shines Bright, The (1953) John Ford Charles Winninger, Arleen Whelan, John Russell
Tam Lin (1970) aka The Devil’s Widow & The Ballad of Tam Lin Roddy McDowall Ava Gardner, Ian McShane, Stephanie Beacham
That Cold Day in the Park (1969) Robert Altman Sandy Dennis, Michael Burns
That Touch of Mink (1962) Delbert Mann Cary Grant, Doris Day, Gig Young
That’s My Man (1947) Frank Borzage Don Ameche, Catherine McLeod
Three Faces West (1940) Bernard Vorhaus John Wayne, Charles Coburn
Ticks (1993) aka Infested Tony Randel Rosalind Allen, Ami Dolenz, Seth Green, Peter Scolari, Clint Howard, Rance Howard
Trust (1990) (11/4/15) Hal Hartley Adrienne Shelly, Martin Donovan, Edie Falco
Try and Get Me (1950) aka The Sound of Fury Cy Endfield Frank Lovejoy, Kathleen Ryan, Richard Carlson, Lloyd Bridges
Wake of the Red Witch (1948) Edward Ludwig John Wayne, Gail Russell
War of the Wildcats (1943) aka In Old Oklahoma Albert S. Rogell John Wayne, Martha Scott
Westward Ho (1935) Robert N. Bradbury John Wayne, Sheila Bromley, Frank McGlynn Jr.
Witchboard 2 (1993) Kevin Tenney Ami Dolenz, Loraine Newman
Wyoming Outlaw (1939) George Sherman John Wayne, Ray Corrigan, Raymond Hatton
Young at Heart (1954) Gordon Douglas Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Gig Young