The Quiet Man (1952) may have been the film dearest to Ford’s heart, a sort of fairy tale set in ‘20s Ireland and overflowing with the sights, colors, eccentric characters, and time-tested customs of the Emerald Isle.
They Were Expendable is a movie about defeat. Or, rather, the glory that may be found in defeat. Based on a non-fiction book by William L. White, it’s a grim, sad yarn, but a strangely uplifting one.
If How Green Was My Valley isn’t John Ford’s finest film, it’s certainly the most honored. Nominated in 1941 for 10 Oscars, it won five - in a year when Citizen Kane was up for most of the same honors.