You can't really sum up a kitchen sink movie like McLintock! in a few sentences, though! Sure, sure, you have G.W. butting heads against his estranged wife and her fiery temper. The fetching widow (Yvonne De Carlo) that G.W. just brought on as the family cook sure is raising Katherine's hackles. Becky struggles to figure out what kind of a life she wants for herself as well as who she'd like to share it with. Will it be the foppish, clueless rich kid (Jerry Van Dyke) or the hardworking ranch hand (Patrick Wayne) that G.W. has taken in? Plus you're lookin' at land grabs, farmers put in an awfully rough spot, mistreated Comanche, eight jillion extras punching each other and tumbling into pits of mud, a barbecue-spoiling Indian raid for good measure, and McLintock stomping through...well, McLintock to set his missus straight.
Don't fret! There's no long, quasi-scholarly analysis that's going to drone on and on here. McLintock! isn't that kind of a movie, not aiming for anything more than infectiously fun comfort food. It's one of the most overt comedies that John Wayne had starred in, but G.W. McLintock still very much feels like The Duke; just a little more sloshed and bug-eyed at times. Even the most casual fan of Wayne's ought to recognize quite a few of the familiar faces here, including the likes of Maureen O'Hara, Bruce Cabot, Hank Worden, Chill Wills, Strother Martin, Gordon Jones, Edward Faulkner, Michael Pate, Edgar Buchanan, and even his son Patrick Wayne, all of whom shared the screen with The Duke at least once (and often many more!). Its big, loud, and broad sense of humor is pretty much straightahead slapstick, not having lost of any of its charm or endearing silliness all these decades later. There's still plenty of heart and a strong moral/familial core beneath all that hootin'-and-a-hollerin'-and-a-punchin'. Several key elements of the premise draw from Wayne's earlier collaborations with O'Hara, particularly Rio Grande and The Quiet Man, making McLintock! feel that much more like slipping on a comfy, familiar pair of shoes.
McLintock! was a deliberate attempt at a crowdpleaser after the mixed reception to The Alamo, and it's exactly the movie it sets out to be. If you like your Westerns straightlaced or your comedy witty and subtle, then McLintock! might not be the movie for you. I've had a heckuva lot of fun catching up with it, though, especially on a Blu-ray disc that looks this nice and is teeming with so many extras. Highly Recommended.
McLintock! slinked into the public domain a while back, and it follows that there's no shortage of digital releases flooding the market. In fact, it's only been a little over a year since McLintock! first appeared on Blu-ray, courtesy of Olive Films, and that disc was rather well-received. It can't hold a candle to this immeasurably superior release, though, authorized by Batjac Productions and transferred from a seemingly immaculate source.
This presentation truly is achingly gorgeous. First and foremost, the anamorphic cinematography is startlingly sharp and detailed. The palette overall is nicely rendered, but it's Maureen O'Hara's candy-colored wardrobe that makes the greatest impression. Black levels and contrast are both consistently robust. There isn't any wear or damage of note. McLintock! benefits from a stratospheric bitrate, with its AVC encode averaging more than 36Mbps, ensuring that the fine, filmic texture is reproduced flawlessly. The light sheen of grain lends McLintock! a very warm, natural appearance, never coming across in any way as digital. All the review you really need can be found in any of the screenshots scattered throughout this write-up, especially this striking case-in-point:
Here's one more for good measure. Open this screengrab to full-size, and then look at the very challenging pattern on G.W.'s shirt. That is the sign of a world-class presentation:
This presentation of McLintock! readily eclipses my highest expectations, leaving me unable to muster any complaints or concerns whatsoever. It is in every way an exceptional effort.
McLintock! arrives on Blu-ray at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This presentation has been encoded with AVC, and it's afforded nearly the entire capacity of this BD-50 disc. I'm genuinely struggling to think if I've ever come across a two hour movie that's been lavished with such an expansive bitrate.
McLintock! features a pair of 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks: the first in two-channel mono and the other remixed to 5.1. Honestly, the 5.1 track is so respectful of the film's monaural origins that it doesn't sound like a remix at all. The subwoofer never really roars to life, although there isn't much of anything that demands to be reinforced in the lower frequencies. I could hear light atmospherics if I leaned over within a few inches of my rear speakers, but they're hardly ever audible from a normal distance. The surround channels most noticeably make their presence known during Becky's homecoming, but that's essentially it. The rears are understated even throughout such sequences as the moving of hundreds of head of steer and the mudslide battle royale. The clarity and fidelity of the remix are terrific all around, though, boasting wonderfully clear dialogue, sound effects, and music. It might as well be monaural, though, and since there's already a terrific mono track elsewhere on the disc, this remix feels fairly inessential.
Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs are offered in French, Spanish, and Portuguese at a bitrate of 640kbps, along with subtitles in each of the disc's languages. There are two English streams, in fact: one traditional and the other captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing.
In stark contrast to the bare-bones Blu-ray disc issued by Olive Films last year, this authorized release of McLintock! is a full-blown special edition.
McLintock! comes packaged in a glossy slipcover.
The Final Word
I've lost track of however many dozens of John Wayne's Westerns have found their way to Blu-ray, but none of them are quite like McLintock! and its head-on collision of well-worn Western tropes, heart, and straightahead slapstick. Even though there's little else like it in Wayne's expansive filmography, McLintock! celebrates and draws so deeply from The Duke's most-loved work that it can't help but feel like coming home again. Love it, love it, love it, especially with such a breathtaking presentation and a slew of quality extras. Very Highly Recommended.