Posted by: Bruce | August 27, 2012

A movie called Ryan’s Daughter, and a blush in the dark.

As a teenager I went to a few movies, usually the drive-in, if I had enough money for tickets and fuel in the tank to get there.  A movie that I watched in the theatre was Ryan’s Daughter, which hit Australian screens around 1970.

I still remember it, or I should say, a particular part of the film. With this exception, I could probably see the movie again as if for the first time. I looked up a few names for this post, because the only one I recalled is Robert Mitchum.

The film, set in Ireland 1916, is directed by David Lean; cinematography by Freddie Young. It tells the story of a married Irish woman who has an affair with a British soldier. A long story with a short plot.

The part of the movie that’s lodged in my memory occurs early on. Rosy Ryan, publicans daughter (Sarah Miles), marries Charles Shaughnessy, older school-master (Robert Mitchum) and the film gets to the wedding night.

Now to the nitty-gritty. Saturday night, girlfriend next to me, the audience quiet, still. We became spectators in an intensely private scene. I remember a close up of Charles starting to undo his belt, Rosy watching. I guess they became naked or semi-naked, I’m not sure. Attention was given to the perfunctory performance of Charles and the changing face of Rosy. As Charles headed for the finish line, Rosy’s face expressed potential enjoyment if she could just join in; fleeting anticipation of making it together; then, disappointment with Charles rolling over and leaving her wondering.

It was this love making scene that caused me to blush. I didn’t need a mirror or my girlfriend to tell me; I could well and truly feel it. Perhaps others did in darkness too. This theatre, library quiet, with all eyes on the screen, gave us the sights and sounds of this couple consummating their marriage. I don’t remember any background music to affect the mood or senses.

Why I blushed I’m not sure. Other movies I’d watched had love scenes and Rosy has a hot and torrid affair later in this movie which left no impression at all. Maybe it just felt wrong watching with the audience. I know I thought Charles was too old for Rosy. It wasn’t any kind of voyeurism or enjoying the action vicariously, it was somehow embarrassing for me. Perhaps it was too realistic and I felt like an intruder, standing next to the bed and forced to watch. Maybe it was Charles’s style of just being there for himself.

I’m glad this was not a first date. If my girlfriend blushed, she didn’t say. I wonder if others have experienced a blush or two at the movies?

Word for today:     Blushing

Involuntary reddening of a persons face due to embarrassment or emotional stress.

More to come;    same blog time, same blog channel


  1. I am sure we have all experienced this – I think it is quite charming that you would blush at this


    • Why thank you. I may just blush again. Bruce


  2. Hi Bruce, I saw that film on television and cringed. You say, ‘We became spectators in an intensely private scene’ Excuse the pun, it’s not meant, but I think there was a point being made. There was something depressing about Mitcham’s characfter and pathetic about Sarah Miles’ character. I am not sure I want to see it again. Good post.


    • Hi Mary; yes I agree with you. I was pretty young when I watched the movie and despite other hot spots in the film, it was this scene that impressed and stayed with me. The point must have been made (for me at least) but I probably didn’t understand it. I’ll watch it again in the near future and see if it still gets my attention. Bit different at home though.
      Thanks for the unintended pun and taking the time to comment. Bruce


      • I’m not sure if I’m remembering it right, Bruce. I think the reason I cringed is not so much because I was young, but because neither of them seemed to be having a good time. It was painful to watch. That’s how I remember it. Do let me know if I was right if you ever see it again.


      • Cringing, a good description easily applied to this scene. I’ll try to remember your request if I watch it again. Bruce


  3. Once, when I was a teenager, I went with my girlfriend to see a movie called “Summer of ’42.” We were seated in the theater, and within five minutes it was apparent we were watching the wrong movie — it was an X-rated version of the film we thought we were there to see. We left, too embarrassed to even ask for a refund.


    • I have this image now of you and your girlfriend hunched together, faces down and scurrying away from that X-rated movie; hoping not to be recognised. Did you get away with your unintentional X-rated adventure?


      • We didn’t tell our parents, that’s for sure.


  4. i saw ryans daughter and it left a lasting impression on me – not a good one at that. yes i too thought it was weird sex and characters depressing.


    • I’m glad I’m not the only one thrown off balance with that particular scene, West. Perhaps that was the intention of the film and if so, it succeeded. The rest of the film, however, doesn’t seem as memorable.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on your reaction to Ryans’ Daughter, it is splendid of you to do so. Seasons Greetings to you West. Regards, Bruce.


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