Day 98: Rank Films

Located on Lough Comb, Cong is a picturesque community in County Mayo. It is on the mile-long River Cong, which flows out of Lough Mask and into Lough Comb. It was the setting for the John Wayne film The Quiet Man. Laetitia took her group to the Quiet Man Cottage Museum and Ashford Castle, once home to the Guinness family and now a hotel. After some walks along the River Cong, Laetitia made arrangements with her group to meet them for dinner at a nearby pub and then went there early for a pre-dinner Kilkenny Ale.

She sat next to an old man whose brown leathery skin spoke of a life in the sun and wind. He told her he was a retired merchant seaman. He was tired of the sea and had moved inland with his wife to this pretty spot, where they live a quiet life. Every afternoon, he had a pint at the pub, then watched a movie after dinner with his wife. He said that his wife didn’t like car chases and explosions, so they mostly watched J. Arthur Rank films from the 1940s and 1950s, described by some as the “golden age” of British film.

The Rank group produced classics like Whisky GaloreThe Red Shoes, and The Lavender Hill Mob, each of which began with the striking of the gong that was Rank’s signature opening. The retired seaman told Laetitia that his wife had a sense of humor, and each night called him to watch the film by striking a gong that he bought many years ago in Hong Kong, a purchase made primarily because of his love for the Rank group’s films.

Laetitia asked him what he was watching tonight. “The Lady Killers, with Alex Guinness,” he said, “It’s the one with a very young Peter Sellers playing a thug.” Laetitia thanked him for his story and went to join her group. She had the limerick of the day.

There was an old sailor in Cong
Whose wife liked to play with his gong
For which we can thank
Films of J. Arthur Rank
That evoked its purchase in Hong Kong.