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McLintock! (Authentic Collector's Edition)

Paramount // Unrated // May 20, 2014
List Price: $22.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted May 27, 2014 | E-mail the Author
The movie's called "McLintock!". It's set in a town called McLintock. ...and, yeah, John Wayne stars as a cattle baron named McLintock. You probably don't need me to tell you that G.W. McLintock is used to getting his way. 'Course, that's not been an altogether bad thing; he's a good man who treats his employees right and tells the truth straight even if it's not what anyone cares to hear. If he wants to stumble home drunk and fling his hat onto the weather vane for the three hundredth time, who's gonna stop him? All of that's about to come to a screeching halt. His estranged wife Katherine (Maureen O'Hara) -- don't you dare call her "Katie"! -- is storming back into this barren stretch of Texan desert. She's been living the high life in Austin on G.W.'s dime for two years now, and she's grudgingly coming back just long enough to carry out a couple of errands. First of all, Katherine is determined to at long last secure a divorce from G.W., dead certain that the drunken lout had been unfaithful to her. Second, she wants to spare their daughter BeckyRebecca (Stefanie Powers) the indignity of life on a ranch. Becky is at long last returning home from college, and Katherine wants her to live a life of respectability and luxury in high society, not the high desert.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.
  • Introduction (3 min.; SD): Leonard Maltin offers an optional introduction that is available when first playing the movie and also via the Special Features submenu.

  • Audio Commentary: Maltin is also one of the central voices on McLintock!'s audio commentary, speaking over nearly the entire film with writer (and The Alamo expert!) Frank Thompson. The two of them are the driving voices of this conversation, and there are additional contributions from director Andrew McLaglen, producer Michael Wayne, and actors Maureen O'Hara, Stefanie Powers, and Michael Pate. Maltin and Thompson's comments can generally be grouped under two headings: "Commmentary Wikipedia", citing the filmographies and shared projects between members of McLintock!'s cast and crew, and "They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore", noting how both movies and even the filmgoing experience have transformed since the '50s and '60s. It's a lively, energetic conversation; just one that sometimes seems to be talking around McLintock! rather than about it. There are some terrific splashes of color in here, though, such as a really funny story about Yvonne DeCarlo and a bottle of red at a Mexican restaurant, a golf course that crossed into cougar territory, and John Ford's indignance at his "children" making a movie like McLintock! without him.

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  • The Making of McLintock! (41 min.; SD): The Blu-ray disc's featured extra is a three-part documentary, one that picks up where the featurettes on The High and the Mighty left off. "The Batjac Story: The Legacy of Michael Wayne" charts the rise of Wayne's eldest son as a producer, from his stewardship of Batjac Productions to his tremendous business savvy to his devotion to cancer research. From there, the film's two leading ladies look back at McLintock!, with such stories shared as Maureen O'Hara pulling off stunts despite still recovering from surgery and Stefanie Powers getting a quick lesson in acting from John Wayne. The third and final segment, "A Good Ol' Fashion Fight", explains why there's more to a good battle royale than knowing how to throw and take a punch. That leads us right into...

  • 2 Minute Fight School (2 min.; SD): Exactly what it sounds like, "2 Minute Fight School" is a primer in how to stage fistfights like the ones all over McLintock!.

  • The Corset: Don't Leave Home Without One! (8 min.; SD): This is more than just a primer about the history and ubiquity of the corset in 19th century fashion. There's that, of course, but "The Corset" offers a great deal of insight into changing gender politics, and it's tied specifically to McLintock! as well.

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  • Photo Gallery (HD): A gallery of thirty-five or so images is primarily oriented around artwork and production stills, although a couple of surprises await at the end.

  • Trailer (3 min.; HD): The only other of the disc's extras to be presented in high definition is this three minute theatrical trailer.

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.
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