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A quite hilarious western comedy inspired by the "Taming of the shrew"
on 12 November 2012
PRECISION: this is the review of DVD issued in 2007, which contains the full (uncut) 126 minutes long version of this film. WARNING: This review includes some minor SPOILERS!
"Mclintock" is one of the very few pure comedies in John Wayne's career. Although officially a western, this film is in fact an absolutely not serious retelling of the "Taming of the shrew", with some slapstick elements.
George Washington "G.W." McLintock (John Wayne) is an extremely rich and somehow aged cattle baron, who owns most of the land, water rights and businesses in and around the good town of Mclintock, named after him of course. The town seems to be situated in Oklahoma in the times when it was still a teritory. McLintock began his life without a penny to his name and he is very much a self made man, something he is very proud about.
However, ever since his wife Katherine (Maureen O'Hara) left him two years earlier, things were clearly kind of hard on him and he started to drink even heavier than usual. He is also in conflict with some local civil servants, beginning with the governor (nominated, not elected) of the territory. And then, all of a sudden, his estranged wife arrives to the town, willing to obtain divorce and sole custody of their daughter Becky (Stephanie Powers). As if that wasn't bad enough already, Ms McLintock finds also that her husband just recently hired an attractive lady (Yvonne De Carlo), officially as a cook...
Even worse, Becky is sweet on one of "G.W." hired hands, Devlin Warren (played by Patrick Wayne, "Duke"s son) and McLintock seems to be ready to accept this young man as his future son-in-law - but that is anathema for Katherine, who dreams of her daughter marrying one of distinguished gentlemen from the East Coast... What follows is a pure comedy, with jokes not always flying very high, but it is still a very entertaining, very relaxing and quite heart warming show.
Made in 1963 this is a rather old film, but I do not think it aged so much (as "Taming of the shrew", which is much older, didn't age either...). Some scenes including Indians are a little bit naive, but on another hand in this western the "Injuns" are also shown as quite noble and tragic characters. At one moment a Commanche chief about to be arrested says to the governor: "We will not just die away, we will go, but not without a fight. It will not be a big fight because there is not many of us left and we have only few guns, but there will be a fight before the Comanches are gone". This is a surprisingly good speech to be found in a slapstick comedy...
A great delight of this film is in its total lack of political correctness. There is a Chinese guy working on McLintock's ranch and every word he says is a pure delight, but of course today nobody would dare make any Chinese speak like that... Many John Wayne's lines seem to come straight from an Ayn Rand book, so if your political opinions are a little bit left from center, watching this film can cause you some hypertension. There also seem to be only three things required from a man to be "real" man - work hard, never ask for any handouts and never, NEVER refuse a challenge to a fistfight... And for the feminists, well, watching this film can be life threatening, as each of the main female characters (and they are both real wildcats) is ultimately "tamed" with a hearty spanking...)))
As far as the technical aspects of this 2007 DVD (the one with red stripes on top and bottom of cover) are concerned, be advised that not only this is the COMPLETE and UNCUT version, but also the film and the soundtrack were restored and cleaned, so the quality of image and sound is EXCELLENT!
Bottom line, I liked this film very, VERY much and I spend a lovely evening watching it. This is a guaranteed remedy against bad mood after a hard day at the office. Enjoy!