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McLintock! Authentic Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

McLintock! (1963) movie poster McLintock!

Theatrical Release: November 13, 1963 / Running Time: 127 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Andrew V. McLagen / Writer: James Edward Grant

Cast: John Wayne (George Washington "G.W." McLintock), Maureen O'Hara (Katherine "Kate" Gilhooley McLintock), Patrick Wayne (Devlin Warren), Stefanie Powers (Rebecca "Becky" McLintock), Jack Kruschen (Jake Birnbaum), Chill Wills (Drago), Yvonne De Carlo (Mrs. Louise Warren), Jerry Van Dyke (Matt "Junior" Douglas, Jr.), Edgar Buchanan (Bunny Dull), Bruce Cabot (Ben Sage), Perry Lopez (Davey Elk), Strother Martin (Agard), Gordon Jones (Matthew Douglas), Robert Lowery (Governor Cuthbert H. Humphrey), Hank Worden (Curly Fletcher), Michael Pate (Puma), Edward Faulkner (Young Ben Sage), Mari Blanchard (Camille), Leo Gordon (Jones), Chuck Roberson (Sheriff Jeff Lord), Bob Steele (Train Engineer), Aissa Wayne (Alice Warren), Big John Hamilton (Fauntleroy Sage) / Uncredited: H.W. Gim (Ching), Hal Needham (Carter), Chief Sky Eagle (Running Buffalo), Kari Noven (Millie Jones)

Buy McLintock! Authentic Collector's Edition from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD

For twenty-five out of twenty-six years in the third quarter of the 20th century, John Wayne was voted one of Hollywood's top ten money-making stars in Quigley's annual poll of movie theater owners. Though that enduring popularity cemented him a place in pop culture and film history, the actor worked almost exclusively in westerns,
a genre that has fallen from favor with studios and moviegoers. The widening chasm between the public's tastes mid-century and those of today illustrate the complicated nature of Wayne's legacy. Everyone knows who he is, but few of his films remain truly popular or revered outside of aging males who grew up with them and those who inherited an appreciation.

These days, the most highly-regarded works in Wayne's filmography are unquestionably his collaborations with director John Ford, such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Wayne's westerns weren't the exclusive domain of Ford. The actor also repeatedly journeyed to the 19th century for Howard Hawks and would occasionally do the same for less accomplished directors. In 1963, Wayne entrusted his brand with Andrew V. McLagen, a man seasoned in the genre...on television. McLagen had helmed numerous episodes of "Have Gun - Will Travel", "Gunsmoke", and "Rawhide." McLagen had a few minor theatrical credits under his belt and before that had worked as assistant director and unit production manager on some Wayne films. Still, the chance to direct Wayne in McLintock! must have felt like a call up to the big leagues. It evidently went well enough; McLagen would direct The Duke four additional times through 1973.

John Wayne is George Washington McLintock, who's kind of a big deal when it comes to cattle and land.

More comedic and romantic than most of Wayne's westerns, McLintock! casts Wayne in the title role of George Washington McLintock. A cattle baron and massive landowner in a town bearing his name in an unnamed territory that has hopes of becoming a state, G.W. is respected by some and disliked by others. Falling into the latter class is Katherine McLintock (Maureen O'Hara), the wife who left him two years ago on suspicions he was cheating on her. These days, G.W. gets drunk most nights, ending with an early morning toss of his hat onto the bull weathervane atop his giant house. He's hit his target hundreds of consecutive times and counting.

Unexpectedly, Katherine returns to town, still hoping G.W. will grant her a divorce. He won't, nor will he give his blessing for their collegiate daughter to live with her on the East Coast. That daughter, Rebecca (Stefanie Powers), also returns home to fanfare and two potential suitors. There's Junior Douglas (Jerry Van Dyke), the educated son of her father's adversary. Then there's Devlin Warren (Patrick Wayne, the Duke's son), a robust young McLintock hire providing for his family after his father's death.

The daughter's romantic options and her parents' potential to rekindle are two of numerous plots explored here. There's also a movement by the territory's Governor Cuthbert H. Humphrey (Robert Lowery) to rid the land of the Comanche Indians, action McLintock opposes.

Rather than really developing these issues narratively, the film unfolds with a series of action/comedy set pieces. A full-blown melee ensues after a man prepares to hang one of McLintock's Indian friends over the disappearance of his daughter. It involves much of the cast sliding down into a mud pit and trading blows while the Indians look on. Devlin dabbles in formidable fisticuffs with mixed results. There's an endless night scene that sees G.W., his eligible new cook (Yvonne De Carlo), and others getting drunk and (their obvious stunt doubles) repeatedly falling down stairs. The film concludes with a big Fourth of July rodeo, in which molasses, feathers, food and merchandise flies as Mrs. McLintock is pursued by G.W.

Meet the Warrens, including future McLintock employee Devlin (Patrick Wayne) and cook Louise (Yvonne De Carlo). Rebecca McLintock (Stefanie Powers) is serenaded by the '60s' less accomplished Van Dyke, Jerry, playing hopeless love interest Junior Douglas.

Modern viewers may cringe at the film's gender politics, which has both McLintock women spanked by their would-be men for comedic effect. Viewers might not be much more comfortable with the film's depictions of Indian and Chinese characters (even if McLintock's tolerance of and sympathy with the Indians seems designed to be progressive). The cultural and sexual insensitivities date the film and reflect the time or rather the time when Wayne ascended to movie star.
He first cracked Quigley's list in 1949 and darned if he ever tried to adapt to the times or stretch or redefine himself with projects or parts outside his wheelhouse. No, Wayne always fashioned himself as a man's man, the kind of hero who threw a punch, saved the day, and got the girl.

Today, it doesn't seem possible for an actor to find a comfort zone and stick to it like that. Even those who find extended success at a certain kind of picture -- say, Will Smith in heroic sci-fi action or Adam Sandler in goofy romantic comedies -- eventually find audiences growing tired of their shtick and wanting them to challenge themselves. Not only did Wayne cling tight to his alpha male status, he did so with the public's unwavering support. No one else rivals Wayne in movie star longevity and the actors who most closely trail his 25 Quigley list appearances (Clint Eastwood, Tom Cruise, and Gary Cooper) have all conceded to mix things up in terms of genre and tone.

McLintock! feels like a display of defiance. While others would soon reinvent the western, Wayne was content to leave things as they were. Perhaps you can credit him for approaching the genre more comedically this time, but the jokes are remarkably dated and tone-deaf. Maybe it was okay to spank women and not take them seriously a half-century ago, but should it have been and can we laugh about it now? Many can, judging from the film's respectable 7.3 rating on IMDb, which ranks it around 15th among actual "John Wayne movies."

Probably 56 during filming but looking a great deal older, Wayne seems determined to prove he's still got it, with deliberate medium-shot compositions doing little to flatter his overtan, wrinkled hide. This was a family production, with Patrick Wayne being groomed as a new leading man and his older brother Michael taking his first producer credit. It was a hit, grossing $14.5 million in North American theaters, good enough for 11th place among 1963 releases.

Despite their old-fashionedness and general lack of academic respect, Wayne's movies seem to sell better than many of their contemporaries. That explains why McLintock! has become one of the rare catalog titles to recently reach Blu-ray from a major studio. In fact, as BD-collecting Wayne fans should be able to tell you, this is actually the film's second Blu-ray release in as many years. Taking advantage of the film's public domain status established in 1994, Olive Films issued a barebones disc in March 2013. In May 2014, Paramount upped the ante by restoring its hearty supply of DVD extras in an upgraded version branded an Authentic Collector's Edition which touts it's using original film elements. Take that, inauthentic collectors bothering with Olive Films Blu-rays!

McLintock! Authentic Collector's Edition Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English), Dolby TrueHD 1.0 Mono (English),
Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish, Portuguese)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; Film-only: English SDH
Not Closed Captioned; Video Extras Subtitled
Release Date: May 20, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $22.98
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Still available as standalone DVD ($39.95 SRP; July 17, 2007)
and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

This terrific-looking Blu-ray lives up to Paramount's high standards. The 2.40:1 picture stays sharp and vibrant most of the time. There are some minor imperfections and a few issues stemming back to production (like the infrequent grainy shot), but otherwise, this presentation delights.

The soundtrack also doesn't disappoint. English Dolby TrueHD mixes are offered in a 5.1 remix and a 1.0 mono track authentic to original release. I listened to the default former and found it satisfactory. The remixing is kept tasteful and subtle, while the recordings do a fine job of hiding their age, exhibiting nothing worse than some clumsy looping synchronization and some exaggerated fight sound effects (like larger-than-life punches). Those looking for foreign dubs and subtitles should be pleased with Paramount's three offerings.

Leonard Maltin introduces us to the film from the Wild, Wild West. John Wayne's son and 1960s producer Michael Wayne is celebrated in "The Batjac Story Part II." Stefanie Powers remembers "McLintock!" in front of a frame of herself in the movie.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's extensive supply of bonus features (standard definition unless otherwise noted, and mostly letterboxed and produced in 2005) starts with a Leonard Maltin introduction (2:39) you can choose to view in front of playback of the film. In it, he contextualizes this film for its principal makers and even some minor players.

Next, we get an audio commentary. The knowledgeable Maltin and Alamo expert Frank Thompson lead the track with screen-specific film historian observations, acknowledging each major contributor and their other work and defending the depictions you might describe as dated, while lamenting the end of Hollywood's Golden Age.
Also edited in, sometimes introduced by Maltin, are remarks from actors Maureen O'Hara (who recalls the mud scene being terribly uncomfortable to film), Stefanie Powers, and Michael Pate, producer Michael Wayne, and director Andrew McLagen. Benefitting from these varied perspectives, this commentary holds obvious value.

The Making of McLintock! consists of three extras that can be viewed as one but are distinct enough to be described on their own.

"The Batjac Story Part II: The Legacy of Michael Wayne" (15:59) evidently follows a featurette found on The High and the Mighty's Special Collector's Edition DVD. Hosted and narrated by Maltin, it celebrates the younger Wayne's handling of the company starting with McLintock! and investment in cancer research. Reliant on talking heads, including Michael, who passed away in 2003, descendants, relatives and colleagues, it's a flattering profile, but not terribly interesting or concerned with film.

"Maureen O'Hara and Stefanie Powers Remember McLintock!" (13:23) collects reflections from the film's two female leads. After another brief Maltin introduction, O'Hara further discusses the difficult mud scene and comments on her spanking, while Powers recalls cherishing her one big scene with the Duke and looking up to O'Hara.

Two young women model old-fashioned undergarments while Louise Coffey-Webb talks in "The Corset: Don't Leave Home Without One!" Stuntmen Tom Morga and Wayne Bauer show how to throw a convincing fake punch in "2 Minute Fight School." Maureen O'Hara tramples a table of food in this photo gallery film still.

"A Good Ol' Fashion Fight" (10:55) allows three veteran stuntmen (Roydon Clark, Tom Morga and Wayne Bauer) the chance to dissect and admire the film's big fight scenes and the people who made them possible. O'Hara adds some remarks on the subject of stunts, revealing which bits she did and didn't do.

"The Corset: Don't Leave Home Without One!" (7:49) celebrates the corset with some modeling, remarks from fashion historian Louise Coffey-Webb, and clips from the film. It's a bizarre inclusion, but one that at least shows creativity that left home video long ago.

"2 Minute Fight School" (2:18) has stuntmen Morga and Bauer demonstrate how to make faked and light punches look real and intense.

A viewer-navigated HD photo gallery contains 36 mostly black and white images, a mix of marketing art and publicity stills, with a caricature and merchandise image thrown in for good measure.

"McLintock is McNificent!" claims the film's theatrical trailer. Men enjoy beers on the McLintock! Blu-ray menu.

United Artists' original McLintock! theatrical trailer (2:46) is preserved and as the disc's only other HD bonus feature.
It asks some amusing rhetorical questions while utilizing freeze frames and other editing effects.

The menu animates stars around the title and listings in the bars above and below a montage of film clips set to the instrumental beginning of the opening titles' song "Love in the Country." Like other Paramount Blu-rays, this one lets you set bookmarks but does not allow you to resume unfinished playback.

Although there are no inserts or special disc art, the eco-friendly keepcase is topped by a cardboard slipcover reproducing the artwork below with some minor differences.

G.W. McLintock (John Wayne) chases after his wife Katherine (Maureen O'Hara) in a climax of comic sexism.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I can't pretend to be a John Wayne fan or expert, but McLintock! reinforces my ambivalence to Hollywood's legendary cowboy. I struggle to see the entertainment value this western comedy held half a century ago and find it even more difficult to spot or appreciate any charm now. The humor and depictions haven't aged well and nothing else emerges to divert attention from the broad gags that pervade.

Paramount's Blu-ray unquestionably stands as the film's strongest release to date. The satisfying high-def picture and sound must offer stark improvement over the various DVD editions and one prior Blu-ray, plus many recycled extras are solid company. As a public domain title, you can probably find a cheaper edition out there, but in quality and quantity, this disc surely bests the rest.

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Related Reviews:
John Wayne: Hondo Stagecoach | Maureen O'Hara: Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation The Parent Trap
Stefanie Powers: The Boatniks Herbie Rides Again | Yvonne De Carlo: The Ten Commandments
Jack Kruschen: The Apartment The Million Dollar Duck | Directed by Andrew V. McLagen: Monkeys, Go Home! The Last Hard Men
The Apple Dumpling Gang The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin Hot Lead & Cold Feet True Grit (2010)
1960s on Blu-ray: Once Upon a Time in the West Mary Poppins Gypsy Funny Girl Barbarella
New: Ace in the Hole The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Tomorrow Gambit The Women (1939)

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Reviewed June 2, 2014.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1963 Batjac, United Artists and 2014 Paramount Home Entertainment.
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