Remembering Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O’Hara made an indelible impression on moviegoers of several generations. Here at the Savannah Film Festival, the gifted young actress Saoirse Ronan spoke of meeting her and how she represented a success story that resounded with Irish moviegoers to this very day. She was inevitably described as fiery (in part because of her flaming red hair) and feisty, onscreen and off. On film this quality made her a perfect partner for John Wayne, someone who could stand up to him—believably. In person, it meant there was no such thing as a dull conversation, even if some of the stories she spun might best be described as blarney.

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I only met her once, on the set of the 1991 movie Only the Lonely, in which she played John Candy’s mother, but she gave me a lively interview. She spoke fondly of her mentors, Charles Laughton and producer Erich Pommer, and namedThey Met in Argentina as her all-time worst movie. I regret that being out of town prevents me from digging into my files and quoting from that conversation, but I hope to do so when I return home. I couldn’t let the week pass without posting something about O’Hara and her contribution to the golden age of Hollywood.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024