Blu-ray Review: John Wayne’s ‘McLintock!’ is Dated But Fun

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Average: 5 (3 votes)

CHICAGO – There is not quite any entertainment like a great John Wayne picture, and “McLintock!” certainly fulfills that expectation. But in adapting Shakepeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” they forgot that the womenfolk had progressed a bit since the spankings that were liberally doled out against the wives and daughters.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

Produced in 1963, this is an old fashioned comedy western, with old fashioned John Wayne values. The Duke gives screen time to the plight of the Indians, but obviously can’t tolerate Eastern educational elites, certain politicians and women outside there roles as housekeepers. Wayne portrays a wealthy cattle driving man, and he works for “the people who buy the T-bone steak.” That rugged individualism sums up “McLintock!.” but along the way there is some true fun, and a nice vehicle for some Silver Era character actors, including the great Jerry Van Dyke.

John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara
G.W.(John Wayne) and Katharine (Maureen O’Hara) in a Scene From ‘McLintock!’
Photo credit: Paramount Home Entertainment

George Washington “G.W.” McLintock (John Wayne) is a self made cattle baron, having tamed the western territories – and claimed them – by the late 1800s. His wife Katharine (Maureen O’Hara) lives apart from him back East, although they are still married. McLintock has a good heart, as he takes in some homesteaders who don’t have a home, including Dev (Patrick Wayne) and his mother Louise (Yvonne De Carlo), who becomes his cook. When Katharine and daughter Becky (Stefanie Powers) come back to town, everybody pitches in to try and get the McLintock family back together.

The film practices a modern sensibility by focusing on the plight of the Comanche tribe – about to be moved from yet another reservation by the U.S. Government. Wayne’s character speaks for them, and through that plea is probably forwarded John Wayne’s opinion about that time in history. The film doesn’t have the same respect for the women, as G.W. can seemingly do anything because of his wealth and power, but his wife cannot express her opinion about him. This filters down to daughter Becky, and the character of Dev – John Wayne’s son Patrick – begins their courtship by spanking her with a fireplace shovel. There isn’t any reprisal for this domestic abuse, which is very odd when viewed today.

McLintock!
The Blu-ray Package of ‘McLintock!’
Photo credit: Paramount Home Entertainment

All that aside, the film is a throwback to epic screen westerns and sly comedy. There are several bits in the film that are funny, in again an old fashion way. There is a big fight near a clay pit (which McLintock owns, naturally) and it is a prolonged sequence that gets funnier as it goes on. McLintock also likes to drink, so there was a going-up-the-stairs scene that was worthy of Charlie Chaplin. And of course there is the inimitable Jerry Van Dyke, playing the Eastern elite son of the town’s bureaucrat, but stealing every scene he’s in just because of his impeccable timing and silliness.

The film is also notable for the rest of the cast – western stalwart Chill Wills, 1960s TV stars Edgar Buchanan (“Petticoat Junction”) and Yvonne De Carlo (“The Munsters”) and character actor Jack Kruschen, who was three years past his memorable turn as Dr. Dreyfuss in “The Apartment” (1960). A young Stefanie Powers gets romanced by the Duke’s son Patrick, who seems to be in the film so his Old Man can create a carbon copy of himself.

Paramount Home Entertainment strikes an exquisite Blu-ray transfer of this glorious color film from 1963, in an “Authentic Collectors Edition.” Extras included commentary from film critic Leonard Maltin, Maureen O’Hara, Stefanie Powers, Michael Wayne (son and producer) and director Andrew McLaglen and documentaries on specific making-of elements. All curiosities will be satisfied by this package, except those seeking socio-political analysis (The Duke would have hated that, anyway).

You have to love films with an exclamation point, and John Wayne was a human exclamation point in film history. Love him or wonder about him, The Duke still rides, and without him westerns would not have been the same.

Paramount Home Entertainment Presents the Blu-ray of “McLintock!,” released in May, 2014. Featuring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Stefanie Powers, Jerry Van Dyke, Patrick Wayne, Chill Wills, Yvonne De Carlo and Edgar Buchanan. Screenplay by Jame Edward Grant. Directed by Andrew McLaglen. Not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2014 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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