He Was a Quiet Man


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Bob is the ultimate office drone, a character not unlike Milton, the mumbly stapler guy in Office Space. He sits in his cubicle performing tedious data entry procedures on long lists of multi-digit numbers, all the while fantasizing about going Columbine on his co-workers. One day he goes to work and begins to load a handgun, determined to execute his murderous plan for real, but as he crawls on the floor to retrieve a dropped bullet, he hears gunfire.

Another drone in another cubicle has beaten him to the punch!

Bob (Christian Slater) uses his own pistol to execute his fellow loser - thus making him the office hero. He is given a big promotion, a massive raise, and some new responsibilities. His boss also tells him to go to the hospital and visit the gorgeous co-worker (Elisha Cuthbert) whose life he saved when he killed the office gunman. It turns out that Cuthbert is not very grateful. The gunman's first bullet turned her into a quadriplegic, and she wishes Bob had let the gunman finish what he started. She makes him promise to finish the job by pushing her wheelchair in front of a subway train. He tries, but can't go through with it and pulls her wheelchair away at the last minute. Then a miracle occurs. She gets a bit of life back in one hand, and the medicos say she may recover. This time she is grateful to Bob for saving her life. Bob proceeds to become her full-time boyfriend and caregiver, and they start to fall in love, but he harbors fears that if and when she recovers, she will return to the hunky, rich guys she knows how to get on demand.

Have I spoiled the film? Not at all. That's the set-up. The story goes on from there, and eventually leads to a surprise ending which I never saw coming, although it explained a lot of problems I had with some earlier events. Some reviewers called the ending ambiguous, but I disagree. It was completely clear to me what had happened, particularly when I thought about some earlier events that had seemed confusing. I found the ending disheartening, but not ambiguous. I also found it quite affecting, although many other films have used similar twists, as have many episodes of the Twilight Zone. (I half expected Rod Serling to come out of the shadows at the end, puffing away on his usual unfiltered ciggie and pontificating solemnly about the irony of it all.)

The script takes us through a few tone shifts, going from jittery suspense to black comedy to social satire to tragedy, and all of the stages are pictured inside a dream-like point of view that always borders on the surreal and occasionally crosses the border. For example, Bob owns a talking fish who mirrors his own world-view. The film's strangeness can prove annoying along the way, but it actually makes perfect sense when all the secrets have been revealed. Christian Slater does an excellent job playing the complete antithesis of his usual cock-sure prick. This time he plays an armed and addled Dilbert: quiet, dumpy, and nerdy; and he carries the film on the character's narrow shoulders, with able back-up from the film's cinematographer, who bathed the film in an otherworldly luminescence and employed some dramatic shots and odd camera angles to give the film a surreal look to match its tone.

It's rated 8.2 at IMDb, high enough to place in the best 100 films of all time. It's not that good, but I would not be surprised to see the rating stay in the range of 7.0-7.5. Although surrealism and black comedy are best taken in small doses, Quiet Man's running time is an economical 95 minutes, so it never has a chance to overstay its welcome, and it is a surprisingly good little film.


* widescreen anamorphic







3 BBC (of 5 stars)
3 Guardian  (of 5 stars)


8.2 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. Despite some good reviews (see above), it grossed only $6,000 in the UK on its opening weekend, then soon disappeared.


  • Elisha Cuthbert's character showed her breasts, but the nudity appears to have been supplied by a body double.

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Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a: