Iconic actress Maureen O’Hara had a long successful film career. She is known for her pairing with John Wayne in five films, but she was a great co-star with many of Hollywood’s great leading men.
During the years 1961-1963, she appeared in four of her best roles and most memorable films. She portrayed many fiery, passionate characters, and usually stole every scene she appeared. Here are those four films.
The Parent Trap (1961)
Maureen O’Hara was 41 years old when this film was made. Actresses at this age normally played old, married women. Those were usually the available roles. O’Hara was a beautiful, vivacious woman and she brought those qualities to the four films she made during period.
The Parent Trap was a Disney film, so they soft-pedaled her sexiness, but it was quite apparent in the film. Co-starring with Brian Keith (who was also a frequent co-star), she played a divorcee who was a willing participant in the scheme to reunite her family.
O’Hara is smoldering in this film. Despite being a Disney film, she oozes sex appeal. The film is centered on Haley Mills playing a dual role as the daughters of O’Hara and Keith, but O’Hara really owns her scenes. There is chemistry between O’Hara and Keith, likely why they teamed to make three films.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)
James Stewart co-stars with O’Hara as parents of four and grandparents of three. Harried Stewart is Roger Hobbs, who takes his extended family on a month-long vacation at the beach. O’Hara is Peggy, who tries to keep her family together and deal with her frequently exasperated husband.
This is far from a glamorous role although O’Hara looks the part of a bank vice president’s wife. She even attracts the eye of distinguished man at the yacht club. O’Hara and Stewart also had chemistry, they are believable as middle aged married people who still find each other attractive.
Spencer’s Mountain (1963)
O’Hara co-stars with Henry Fonda in a film written by Earl Hamner, Jr., in what was an early version of The Waltons.
O’Hara plays the matriarch of a large rural family. Her role is supportive of her family, as her own character is somewhat underwritten. She’s the wife and mother, but she’s no doormat. Perhaps more sentimental than the mother in The Waltons, but also strong and outspoken when needed. It is easy to see the love between her character and Fonda’s. She’s very content with her modest life, there’s a lot of sacrifice, but great reward.
Maybe not her showiest role, but a darn fine film.
Many would point to The Quiet Man as the best pairing with John Wayne, but this film is dynamite and a lot of fun. The passion erupts between then in every scene.
McClintock! is a seriously funny film and gives O’Hara a deliciously bad role as McClintock’s estranged wife, who wants a divorce so she can take their daughter back east.
The fire in O’Hara’s eyes looks real. She spends the film angry and trying to extract some level of revenge on McClintock, generally without success. She tries to get under his skin, which she does, but he won’t give her the satisfaction of knowing how much.
This is one of O’Hara’s best overall roles. Wayne might have the star, but this was really her film; she is the emotional center of the film. Whether she appears in a fancy gown, or runs through the town in her underwear with molasses and feathers, she is really at her best and having a great time.