McLintock! is a 1963 comedy Western starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Patrick Wayne and Stephanie Powers.
Wayne stars as the character of the title, well-off cattle rancher and landowner George Washington McLintock – G.W. to his friends – who begins the film living estranged from his wife: of course the wonderful Maureen O’Hara’s character, Katherine. It seems she had begun getting ideas of social advancement some years ago, which G.W. didn’t like and so she left for sophisticated society.
However, she is now back for the occasion of their daughter’s return from college. To the locals’ amusement, she has put on rather haughty airs and initially does all she can to stay distanced from the people who have long been friends of herself and her husband.
But when the settlers from the east start riling up the native tribe and officials do nothing to help matters, Katie gets behind him all the way, standing up for G.W. and herself, a perfect foil and match for him. There are a few delightful, charged scenes between Wayne and O’Hara, the perfect screen pairing, not seen in such force since The Quiet Man some 11 or 12 years earlier.
The list of co-stars whom movie fans would also recognise is quite long, including such well-known faces as Chill Wills, Hank Worden, Jack Kruschen, Yvonne De Carlo, Jerry Van Dyke, Edgar Buchanan, Jack Kruschen, Strother Martin, Bruce Cabot…this film is quite a who’s who of known faces, particularly for fans of John Wayne and the western genre.
Along the way, there is plenty of light-hearted western action, clever and fun comedy, particularly involving G.W.’s ranch foreman Drago (Wills), just enough jeopardy to add another dimension and of course: a drag-out battle between Wayne and O’Hara that fans will be rooting for.
I can’t imagine that there are too many fans of either of the leads who haven’t seen this film at least once over the years, however, I won’t put in any more details, just in case it spoils this lovely film for anyone.
Is McLintock! a good overall representation of western film? I would say no, but there are some great elements there which often contribute to shining examples of the genre: it has strong characters, a good but fairly simple plot with just enough going on to keep us intrigued and plenty of comedy. I would say that the joviality is what sets it apart from other westerns, where the humour is often used to offset the more serious action. Therefore it is definitely right that this film is billed as a comedy western.
Is McLintock! a thoroughly enjoyable watch? Without a doubt. A little silly in places, it is fun, humorous and heartwarming. I defy you not to be beaming by the time the credits roll.