Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Oaters - McLintock! (1963) starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara

Hello, kiddies! Or perhaps today I should say "Howdy, Pilgrims!" It's your humble host Professor Damian with today's offering from the public domain treasure chest, and we're starting off with a great one!

In 1963, 13 years after they had first appeared together in the John Ford epic Rio Grande and 11 years after they both appeared in what may be Wayne's greatest non-western movie, The Quiet Man, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara came together once again to bring the story of The Taming of the Shrew to the wild west.

In the movie, Wayne plays George Washington McLintock, a cattle baron, mine owner, lumberyard boss, and generally the biggest man (physically and financially) in a town that has even been named after him. However, no matter how big McLintock may be, his biggest challenge may have just arrived on the morning train. No, it's not a gunslinger come to challenge the rancher. Or even one of the new settlers who are intent on farming land given to them by the government. No, the true challenge to McLintock's power (and his sanity) is his estranged wife, Katherine (O'Hara) who has just returned to town to meet up with their daughter, Becky, (Stephanie Powers) who is coming home from college. Katherine plans to take Becky east to start a new life, but McLintock is, shall we say, less than thrilled with the idea.

The sparks soon begin to fly, but the question soon becomes: will the two exes simply burn each other up, or are the sparks merely a prelude to renewed romantic fireworks?

The film definitely has its ups and downs. The chemistry between the two leads is immediately obvious, and they are backed by a supporting cast that not only includes Powers and Wayne's son Patrick and daughter Aissa, but also the lovely Yvonne De Carlo (yes, Lily Munster herself), Jerry Van Dyke, Bruce Cabot, Strother Martin, and Chill Wills as Mclintock's right hand man Drago.

The highlight of the movie has to be the oft highlighted "mud fight scene", which begins with Drago trying to calm his boss down. "I know, I know. I'm gonna use good judgement," Mclintock says through gritted teeth. "I haven't lost my temper in forty years, but pilgrim you caused a lot of trouble this morning, might have got somebody killed... and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won't." He begins to turn away. "I won't... The HELL I won't!"
And with that he belts the other man, knocking him down a hill and into a mud pit. Donnybrooking soon ensues. (The entire scene can be seen here.)

On the negative side, the movie is definitely a product of its time and attitudes. One of the reasons that I chose to feature the poster above is that it highlights one of the scenes that has been, in later years, highly criticised. Actually there are two spanking scenes in the movie, one in which Mclintock turns Katherine over his knee, another which involves Becky and her fiancee. For those who are offended by that kind of thing, I can only say that it seems to me sort of part-and-parcel with the whole Taming of the Shrew theme, and also that throughout the movie, it seems that both women for the most part give as good as they get.

Then there is the portrayal of Native Americans. I'm not even going to try to defend this one, though I will say that it seems at least a bit more enlightened than some of Wayne's earlier "Injun Fighter" westerns. At a couple of points, McLintock is shown as a fighter for indian rights and rescues a Comanche friend from hanging for a crime he didn't commit. At one point, one of the characters even has the dialogue "Yes, I know I'm an Indian. But I'm also the fastest runner in town. I've got a college education and I'm also the railroad telegrapher. But does anybody say 'Hello Runner' or 'Hello College Man' or 'Hello Telegrapher'? No! Not even 'Hello Knothead'! It's always 'Let the Indian do it.'"

So how did a movie from 1963 with a major star like John Wayne, produced by his own Batjac production company wind up in the Public Domain? The answer is simple. When the movie was made, in 1963, the term for copyrights was 28 years with a possible 28 year extension. When the time for renewal came up in 1991, Wayne's son, Michael, who was in charge of Batjac at the time, failed to file for the extension. Therefore it automatically fell into the Public Domain.

And now, just to whet your appetite and give you a taste of this gem from the Public Domain, here (thanks to is the trailer for McLintock!

OK, enough commentary. Here's the skinny:

Title: McLintock!
Release Date: 1963
Running Time: 127 min.
Stars: John Wayne, Mureen O'Hara, Patrick Wayne, Stephanie Powers
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Producer: Michael Wayne
Production Company: Batjac
Distributed by: United Artists

You can watch the entire movie (in widescreen) for free by clicking here. A full screen version is available here.
Or, you can purchase the deluxe edition of the movie on DVD (complete with commentary, a history of Batjac productions, interviews, and even a history of the corset(!) ) from Amazon by clicking here: McLintock! (Authentic Collector's Edition)
The movie is also available to "Watch Now" or rent from Netflix:McLintock!

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting
-Professor Damian


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Unless otherwise noted, all movies discussed on this blog and all associated materials are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you are a copyright holder for any of these materials, please email me. Unless otherwise noted, all material created for this blog by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons license as described below. Creative Commons License
Professor Damian's Public Domain Treasure Chest by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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