George Washington McLintock is a wealthy cattle baron battling his shrewish wife in this lighter comedy from the Duke’s career. McLintock! was a raucous Western comedy in 1963, once again pairing John Wayne with Maureen O’Hara. The Duke was still a huge box office draw at the time, coming off a string of successful movies. Incorporating many slapstick elements and heavily leaning on John Wayne’s personality, the popular film has always been a hodgepodge of comedic set-pieces and plot gimmicks. McLintock! is the type of comedy that has not aged as well as some other classics from the 1960s, its middle-of-the-road approach wearing thin by the end of its two hours.
Plotting is thin despite being a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. G.W. McLintock is the richest person in the territory, a man of the people respected by the neighboring Indians and local citizens. He is also a drunk and likes flirting with the local ladies down at the saloon. It is a character that John Wayne would play some variation of a dozen times or more in his long career. By the time of McLintock! audiences knew what to expect when the icon appeared on screen.
This wealthy man’s problems begin and end with his wife, the fiery Katherine (Maureen O’Hara). Katherine had left him two years ago due to suspected adultery and had been living on her own in New York as a socialite. She has returned home to welcome their daughter from college, Becky (a young Stefanie Powers). Becky is at an age when marriage is on the horizon. Daughter of the wealthiest man for hundreds of miles, a range of men pursue McLintock’s daughter.
The script piles on a huge array of supporting characters including Patrick Wayne (John Wayne’s son) as Devlin Warren, a young employee that becomes Becky’s love interest. Yvonne De Carlo plays an older maid that proves a romantic threat to Katherine McLintock. A number of familiar faces from other John Wayne films play roles, including Chill Wills. Maureen O’Hara had been paired with Wayne in several other memorable films, most notably The Quiet Man.
Satire in McLintock! is aimed at all kinds of groups across the spectrum, including government bureaucrats, smarmy politicians and educated men. Some of it is does not work nearly as well as it once did, having lost some cultural context over the decades. There are many gags, including pratfalls and fights that feel copied from the Three Stooges. It is low-brow humor that should work better than it does, including the legendary mud-fight scene that goes on and on.
There is some fun to McLintock! Watching John Wayne and particularly Maureen O’Hara battle each other for nearly two hours does have its merits. It plays off their long history on screen together, which still sizzles in McLintock! John Wayne and director Andrew V. McLaglen threw in too many gags and not enough well-written dialogue, the comedy would have been greatly served by trimming twenty or thirty select minutes. The Duke’s fans will eat this one up but its slapstick comedy goes over the top too often for today’s audiences.
McLintock! is the only John Wayne film made in color that has slipped into the public domain, which it did by accident. This Blu-ray version by Paramount has had its transfer struck from the original camera negative in brilliant color and would be deemed the official distributor if not for a quirk of copyright law. Olive Films beat them to the punch last year on Blu-ray, releasing an inferior transfer sourced from secondary film elements. The Authentic Collector’s edition by Paramount is in a class of its own and the best way to watch this comedy. Aside from some evident sharpening, this is a high-quality presentation of vintage film that can’t get much better in 1080p resolution.
Paramount struck their film transfer at 4K resolution in a new scan from the camera negative, creating a razor-sharp image bursting with detail and genuine film quality. The film elements have undergone intense restoration, producing an immaculate film print free of debris. The Technicolor movie has not looked this good since theatrical release, the excellent cinematography by William Clothier remains a showpiece. Featuring a bold color palette highlighting the red-headed Maureen O’Hara, perfect black levels and a crisp contrast emphasize the beautiful saturation in it.
The 1963 movie possesses superb clarity in its proper 2.39:1 framing. This was a big-budget production made by experienced hands. There is a tremendous amount of depth and pop which works to spotlight the strong production and set design. The AVC video encode perfectly replicates the 4K transfer’s film-like qualities, flawlessly handling the unfiltered grain. It should as the movie was given virtually the entire space of a BD-50, averaging an incredible 36.38 Mbps for the main feature. My only complaint is the presence of awkward aliasing and ringing in this wonderful film transfer, an unnecessary addition made by modern technicians.
Paramount spent the necessary money and gave McLintock! a nearly pristine film transfer, which helps revitalize the comedy’s picture quality for a new generation. Few other restorations have pulled this type of detail and resolution from vintage film, it is truly a marvel to watch on a large display. Ordinary viewers won’t notice the ringing at all. The fine amount of halos should not prove too troublesome for videophiles.
Paramount includes the original monaural soundtrack in 2.0 Dolby TrueHD. For such a good-looking movie, the audio is thinner than one might expect. A slightly more expansive 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack adds a little ambiance, but much of its soundstage is firmly anchored to the center channel. This is not one of the better mixes from the era, in terms of polish or recording quality. Audio is serviceable with a clear reproduction of dialogue. I was somewhat disappointed with its lack of presence and sweep.
Paramount includes the following subs, which display in a white font that remain inside the widescreen framing at all times: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. The dubs are in French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1.
This collector’s edition gets a nice assortment of features, all carried over from Paramount’s original DVD version. A slipcover is included that replicates the cover photo of John Wayne. Most of the supplements are in standard-definition but the documentary’s quality makes up for it.
The real highlight is the presence of film critic Leonard Maltin, a true fountain of knowledge about classic Hollywood films.
Introduction by Leonard Maltin (02:39 in SD) – A brief but concise overview of McLintock! that nicely opens the film. An option is given to skip straight to the movie.
Audio Commentary with Film Critic Leonard Maltin, Frank Thompson, actresses Maureen O’Hara and Stefanie Powers, actor Michael Pate, producer Michael Wayne, and director Andrew McLaglen – This is a great commentary. Hearing the people intimately involved with the movie give their personal reminisces is a lot of fun. Leonard Maltin and Frank Thompson are great at pointing out the various actors and their other films.
“The Making of McLintock!” 3-part documentary (41:28 in SD) – These three featurettes delve into great detail on their various subjects, going well beyond the fluff commonly found in them.
– The Batjac Story Part II: The Legacy of Michael Wayne (15:59 in SD)
– Maureen O’Hara and Stefanie Powers Remember ‘McLintock!’ (13:23 in SD)
– A Good Ol’ Fashion Fight (10:55 in SD)
The Corset: Don’t Leave Home Without One! (07:49 in SD) – An informative piece on the history of this torture device aimed at the fairer sex.
2 Minute Fight School (02:18 in SD) – A featurette showing how two stuntmen throw a punch or take one on screen.
Photo Gallery – A series of shots used for publicity materials.
Theatrical Trailer (02:46 in HD)
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.