Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I check Hulu on occasion to see what flicks they recently added and came across a John Wayne western called McLintock!. I thought I had seen all of the Duke's later efforts including this one, but decided to check it out for the hell of it.

No, I hadn't experienced this particular motion picture, perhaps due to some positive karma accrued in a previous life, so why I felt the need to sit through it now is a mystery. I suppose one shoudn't be overly critical of a 1963 effort these days. After all it was a different time and place and things were done, well, differently, so one could watch a movie dispassionately, the way you sort of glance at roadkill by the side of the road that some other guy rolled over as you drive on by.

Wayne's movies from that period aren't all bad although he floundered pretty much at the end of his career. Rio Bravo is actually pretty enjoyable. His last with Lauren Bacall, The Shootist, is some of his best work.

McLintock is pretty much standard fare, a sort of uncomplicated comedic farce with the Duke running things and trying to sort out the surrounding mayhem. Maureen O'Hara as his wife reprises her fiery redhead role. (She and he made five films together, all as a married couple) There are Indians, trains, troopers, fistfights and various wince inducing attempts at humor.

What sets this apart from most Waynsters is it's background. His film production company, Batjac, was apparently still reeling on it's heels from Wayne's pet project, The Alamo, which tanked at the box office a couple of years earlier. McLintock was hurriedly cobbled together with a lot of John Ford regulars and made solely as a crowd pleaser to recapture some dough. A lot of Wayne's family was involved with son Patrick co starring, son Michael producing and a young daughter in a small role. It turned out to be extremely popular with film goers, but it's the attempts at early 60s farce that make your twenty first century jaw drop.

Wayne used the vehicle to make some manly, pseudo conservative rants while having obvious liberal caricatures take pratfalls. Then we have little kids climbing 50 feet up on the roof of a house, great fun with a guy shot in the stomach with a starter pistol, an indian chief running around constantly yelling "Where's the whisky?". It's all in there, but the degrading treatment of Maureen O'Hara at the end has to be seen to be believed. The Duke stalks her all around town, through glass windows, out of haylofts, into horse troughs and finally beats her wet ass, in her underwear, in front of the entire gleefull population of the town. The upshot being that her irksome behavior changes, her independent spirit is broken and she promises to be the obedient little wifey we all knew a good, humiliating ass whipping could help emerge. It's hard to understand how an actress could willingly take that role on, but again, this was made almost fifty years ago in a galaxy far, far away. Go ahead and try to sit through it. I dare you.

In Rio Grande, another vehicle for these two, people who knew how the picture was made have debunked an apparent UFO that appears behind the Duke's head in this scene. The outside takes were filmed near Moab, Utah, but this was a studio with a painted backdrop and the light was reflection from an arc lamp.


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