“McLintock!” is Wayne classic

Rob Burkett / Washburn Review

With all actors, there is a movie that breaks molds and steps outside of what we expect of stars. With “McLintock!” the film is on the face of it, another in a long line of John Wayne western movies, but it stretches itself in many other directions.

The 1963 film is a movie set in the western frontier, revolving around a man in George McLintock, played by Wayne who is a ranching baron. Estranged from his wife Katherine, played by the inestimable Maureen O’Hara, star of such films as “The Parent Trap” and “Big Jake,” George has been living the past two years in the life of a bachelor. With Katherine living “back east” with the couple’s daughter Becky, George attempts to live life in the meantime.

The film starts off with George in town and noticing new farmer settlers moving into the territory. After warning the farmers of the harshness of life on the mesa, McLintock is approached by the young Devlin Warren, played by John Wayne’s son, Patrick. Warren sees which way the proverbial wind is blowing and wants to get a job with McLintock’s ranch gang. After initially turning him down, George meets the young Warren’s mother, Louise, played by Yvonne De Carlo. George takes the Warren family in, giving both Devlin and Louise a job.

At the same time that George is putting his home life in order, Katherine comes into town ahead of her daughter, who is returning home after finishing school. Katherine waits for George in the hotel where she eventually confronts him and asks for a divorce. George won’t hear it and thus the comedic and romantic bickering begins between the two.

After finding out that Matt Douglas, a suitor for Becky’s hand in marriage played by Jerry Van Dyke, is in town as well, the hilarity turns into full swing as Devlin is smitten with the young McLintock and a romantic rivalry between the two young men ensues.

While all of this is going on, the settlers from earlier in the film reenter the plot as Native Americans living in the area are accused of abducting one of the farmer’s daughters. The ensuing fight that takes place at the rock quarry outside of town lends itself to more comedic moments as most of the cast literally takes a spill down the hill into a mud pit.

Eventually, on the Fourth of July, the final showdown between George and Katherine comes as the tension explodes in the wake of a raid by the local Native American tribes. During the raid, Becky realizes she is in love with Devlin, and the two eventually end up together. George spends the last part of the film chasing Katherine through buildings around the town. Finally, after “putting her in her place,” the two resolve their dispute and the film ends with them back together.

For those looking for a cheap alternative to the movie theater and want to explore one of the original romantic comedy movies, this is a must see. For Western fans, this movie might not be quite what you are looking for, but it still lives true to the look and feel of the genre. Regardless, “McLintock!” is a great movie for a quiet evening at home.