Today’s movie McLintock! (1963) continues the Bruce Cabot line from King Kong (1933) with a review of the McLintock! (1963) which is a classic John Wayne cowboy flick. This review goes over the major characters and give a plot summary with SPOILERS. It also give a final summary of the movie.
I could switch to the John Wayne stream but I’m going to stick with Bruce Cabot for a while since he is in a number of Wayne movies that I want to cover anyway. I just didn’t think I would get here this soon. Eventually I will make it back to classic black and white horror films and other assorted genres.
Today I going to talk about the 1963 John Wayne movie that, on the surface, seems like just a simple western comedy. But the truth is a little stranger.
Marion Robert Morrison–known to most of us as John Wayne–AKA The Duke–starred as George Washington ‘G.W.’ McLintock. Over the span of 50 years, The Duke has 181 acting credits from the years 1926 to 1976.
For this film, Wayne is paired for the fourth of five times with his on-screen estranged wife Maureen O’Hara. O’Hara plays the role of Katherine Gilhooley McLintock. See how they worked that fiery Irish heritage in there.
Charles Laughton had seen a screen test of Maureen O’Hara and was twitterpated by her beautiful eyes. Just so we’re clear, that Charles Laughton is of Spartacus (1960), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) , and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). The Bounty wasn’t the only role where he was Captain. He also played the lead role in both Captain Kidd (1945) and Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952).
At 19 O’Hara was cast in her first marquee role in Jamaica Inn (1939) which was directed by none other that Alfred Hitchcock and that same year she was cast as Esmeralda in the Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) where her beauty caught the attention of the Hunchback who was played by Laughton. She went on to make 5 films with Wayne and had a total over 60 during her career. In addition to her looks, she was very athletic which was utilized in many of her movies, including At Sword’s Point (1952) where she played Claire the daughter of Athos–of The Musketeers fame. How they could believe she was a boy is beyond me. O’Hara eventually left acting in the 1970s and did not return for a couple of decades. She crushed it when she finally did return to the screen to play older roles.
Yvonne De Carlo was a Canadian actress that is best known for an unusual television role of Lily Munster in the 1964 runaway TV show “The Munsters.” In this role, she played a mother vampire married to a bumbling Frankenstein with a human niece and a werewolf son. Naturally, they had a live-in vampire grandpa for laughs.
Now I know that this is a movie podcast but there are a few connections that I have to make to close some loops. The werewolf son, Eddie, shows some signs of being part vampire such as sleeping in a drawer, having a widow’s peak, and hanging upside down. He was often seen with his werewolf doll named Woof-Woof, which looks an awful lot like Lon Chaney, Jr.’s character Larry Talbot from the The Wolf Man (1941).
Until 1940, Yvonne appeared in three unbilled parts in short films. Finally, she got a part in a feature film. Her big break came with Salome Where She Danced (1945). She had a pretty good run of films through the 1950’s when she got the role of Sephora, Moses’ wife in the Ten Commandments (1956).
This led to another role of note, that of Amantha Starr in Band of Angels (1957) where she was a mixed race adult who was sold into slavery and eventually purchased by Hamish Bond– played by none other than Clark Gable. This film also stars Sydney Poitier, who’s gonna be the subject of a future podcast.
Patrick Wayne, the second son of John Wayne, made 40 films, 9 of which were with his father. These films include Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), with his father and Maureen O’Hara, The Long Gray Line (1955) again with O’Hara, Mister Roberts (1955), The Searchers (1956), The Alamo (1960), Donovan’s Reef (1963), The Green Berets (1968), Shenandoah (1965) with Jimmy Stewart, Big Jake (1971), and today’s movie where he plays Devlin, the second love interest for the character Becky.
In the 1970’s, Patrick Wayne moved out from his father’s shadow and made some sci-fi flicks. His most memorable of which are Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) where he worked with the master of pre-digital special effects artist Ray Harryhausen and starring with Tyrone Power’s daughter Taryn Power, and the Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation of The People That Time Forgot (1977). The remainder of his career was spent on television and as a game show host. In McLintock! (1963), he played Devlin Warren–the son of the widow, played by De Carlo and second love interest of McLintock’s daughter Becky who was played by Stefanie Powers.
With her beauty and flaming red hair, Powers really fit the bill for the daughter of O’Hara’s character. She is best known for her television role in “Hart to Hart” (1978-1982), a generic husband and wife detective team.
Chill Wills played Drago, McLintock/Wayne’s sidekick. Wills was a character actor in a lot of westerns. IMDB.com says his first name, Chill, came from being born on the hottest day in 1903. For his role in McLintock, while not reciting “authentic frontier gibberish” could be said to be using Shakespearean frontier gibberish.
Jerry Van Dyke played Matt Douglas Jr.–a real eastern dandy who stood out in everything he did in the west, including wearing a straw hat rather than a cowboy hat, doing eastern dances, and playing the banjo. Matt Douglas Jr was the primary love interest of Becky, McLintock’s daughter. Otherwise, Van Dyke had a moderate career, which includes turning down the title role of “Gilligan’s Island” (1964-1967) and “My Mother the Car” (1965-1966). Well, you see how that worked out.
Playing the role of Agard was another actor who found fame in later life: Strother Martin “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” While famous for that line and many others, he was also springboard champion, taught swimming in the Navy during WWII, and missed the 1948 Olympic team by one place. He moved to Hollywood and among other things, was a swimming instructor to Charles Chaplin’s children. After meeting Sam Peckinpah he began to get roles like Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Slap Shot (1977), The Wild Bunch (1969), and–my personal favorite of his work–Hard Times (1975) where he starred with Charles Bronson and James Coburn.
Waynes’ old drinking buddy, Bruce Cabot played a bit part as McLintock’s fellow rancher.
And finally, playing the part of Curly, was Hank Worden. Naturally, Worden’s head was shaved. Worden was educated at Stanford and the University of Nevada, so of course, he became a saddle bronc rider. He may have been a bit player in a fair amount of westerns but he was the real deal.
Now for the plot!
I was a little surprised to find out that this was a western adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” Somehow I missed that in my twenty-odd viewings of this flick. But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see that it is an homage to conservative values.
George Washington McLintock, “GW,” is the first guy to get to the mesa, and owns the most land and the most cows. On top of that, he’s estranged from his wife.
Isn’t that the beginning of Chisum (1970)? Why do the wives of all the characters in Wayne’s movies keep running off? Hmmmm!
So, anyway, the government is represented locally by a crook named Matt Douglas who is bringing in a wagon train of wide-eyed farmers to begin plowing the mesa and ruin the cattle habitat. At the same time, the old Indian chiefs are being released from prisoner after losing a war with the ranchers decades earlier. McLintock can’t believe that people want to farm the land and take away the open range, totally missing the irony that the ranchers took the land from the Indians for their own purposes. I mean, really, why should someone have the right to do it to them?
So then McLintock encounters Devlin and his mother-from the wagon train and hires him as a ranch hand and hires his mother as a cook. When McLintock’s daughter, Becky, returns from two years back east she brings along the estranged wife Katherine who winds up staying in the local hotel while she plans to divorce McLintock and marry the federally appointed Gov. Cuthbert H. Humphrey. Later, Wayne stated that the character of Cutbert was a parody of Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, who Wayne was personally at political odds with.
Becky begins dating Matt Douglas Jr., the son of the crooked government agent. It becomes clear that Devlin is jealous. On top of that, Katherine is enraged that Devlin’s mother, played by De Carlo, is now cooking at the ranch.
There are a few scrapes between Indians, farmers, soldiers, and ranchers culminating in a town-wide mud pit fight that is basically the high point of the movie and is honestly pretty funny.
Finally, Devlin decides to express his love for Becky by placing her over his knee and spanking her. When he raises his hand, his future father-in-law McLintock places a coal ash shovel in it and Devlin proceeds to spank the girl.
McLintock decides he wants his wife back and drags her, half naked and fighting, down the main street of town. And somehow, they all live happily ever after?
World-Famous Summary: Two women go out west and find abusive husbands.