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McLintock! (1963) – full review!

McLintock! (1963) – full review!

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen with an original screenplay by James Edward Grant (The Sheepman (1958)) this John Wayne-Maureen O’Hara comedy Western will have you laughing out loud. Besides being another successful pairing of these two the film also boasts a deep cast of familiar character actors including Wayne’s son Patrick Stefanie Powers Jack Kruschen Chill Wills Yvonne De Carlo Jerry Van Dyke Edgar Buchanan Bruce Cabot Strother Martin and more.

McLintock (Wayne) owns most of the land and everything else in the small Arizona town that’s named after him. The territory is not yet a state and there’s some Comanche Indians sprinkled in to add a subplot to move the film along. Otherwise it’s a no holds barred comedy set in the West that begins with a short cattle drive and leads to a husband (Wayne again) chasing his wife (O’Hara) all over town during a July 4th celebration and treating her as if she were chattel. Therefore the film’s comedic elements may not be as funny to a sensitive or feminist oriented woman. Then again few Westerns are targeted towards female audiences.

McLintock has been estranged separated from his wife Katherine for two years. She thinks he’s barbaric and has spent the time away back East in the big cities with their fashions and the territory’s Governor Cuthbert H. Humphrey (Robert Lowery) a thinly veiled not so inside joke (considering the time this film was made). Their daughter Rebecca (Powers) or Becky as her father prefers to call her is just about to return home from college. Hence Katherine returns home a couple of days earlier to serve her husband with divorce papers. In those days she would have to have received his permission which he refuses to give. He is obviously confused as to why she left him in the first place and would love it if she would just come back to him. Though initially standoffish it is clear that she misses his testosterone-driven manner as he deals with a farmer who made the mistake of pushing him in the stomach with a shotgun. The scene that follows is famous (a John Wayne classic) the one in which Duke’s character proclaims “I haven’t lost my temper in 40 years but pilgrim you caused a lot of trouble this morning might have got somebody killed… and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won’t I won’t. The hell I won’t” just before he does. Katherine secretly cheers her husband’s punching challenger after challenger in the brawl that breaks out involving virtually everybody in the community and a big mud hole (with a hill slide entry). She also can’t resist joining the fray herself.

Wayne’s son Patrick plays a “tougher than most” farmer that Wayne hires after the young man’s farm failed. He also hires “Patrick’s” mother (De Carlo) when his trusty sidekick acting butler Drago (Wills of course) notices how great a cook she is. Wills’s character as usual gets to mumble a lot of the best and most humorous lines including his apology to Katherine when he’s accidentally called her Kate (a name she hates): “I’m sorry Katherine – that Katie just slipped out from times when I remember you as being nice people“. The fact that De Carlo’s character is living with Wayne’s as their live-in cook when Katherine returns to town provides some spice to their already testy relationship. The Duke’s own 6 year old daughter Aissa is seen briefly (and only once) as the other of “De Carlo’s” children. When Becky arrives home from college naturally Patrick’s character is drawn to her. Van Dyke plays another student returning from the East that provides the weakest leg in a “love triangle” (between Becky and Patrick’s character). He’s the son of Gordon Jones’s character who’s a weak “foe” for Wayne’s character (nice parallel huh?). Kruschen plays a family friend and store owner who’s been a friend to both McLintock’s since Becky was born. Buchanan plays the local drunk or at least harmless street person who hangs out at the town’s railroad station and is a friend to the Comanches. Cabot plays another old friend of McLintock’s Edward Faulkner plays Cabot’s son who discovers Patrick’s boxing prowess. Martin plays the bumbling local Indian relations representative of the government.

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