I Saw A Film!
Yes that exclaimation point is part of the title, and this film is as fake as fake can be. It’s a fake western, with fake indians, fake cattle ranchers, fake endless fist-fighting and lots of patronizing BS for women and ethnicity to enjoy. Much of the film is meant to be a comedy, but it’s a comedy in the way Breakfast At Tiffany’s had their totally invented hilarious Japanese man played by Micky Rooney stinking up the place with it’s implicit racism (the Japanese man was in the original story, but he wasn’t played as a joke). Here McLintock, while giving tacit respect to Latin kids and pretend Native Americans (there’s a reason Brando took up the cause about the way they were treated by Hollywood) is every bit the shitty rich lout everyone bows to because he employs them or hits them or both. I suppose this is a fantasy in the same way Richie Rich comics were.
What we have here is a clunky vehicle for John Wayne to be all John Wayne in, and I suppose The Duke had his moments. This is the film where he famously says he’s not gonna hit someone, after they’d jabbed a shotgun in his belly and threatened to hang a Native American for some trumped up nonsense, and then says “The hell I’m not” and fake slugs the guy. Fake punches and no blood abound. The brawling continues, with McLintock’s lady (Wanting a divorce and custody of their ‘of age’ daughter) jabbing asses with a hatpin before herself sliding down a slag slope the gang is fighting on.
The young man wooing the Mclintock’s daughter (Stephanie Powers from Hart to Hart) also fake fights a farmer boy who was educated in boxing. More fake fisticuffs ensue. Stephanie gets spanked. Yes, spanked. Very hard to sit through. We’re meant to think of ladies as wayward badly behaved kids, and men as their correction. It’s an attitude long waged by imperialism for centuries at least. And there are political digs arranged at big government (all the pointless meddling that should be left to strong smart guys like McLintock, who plans to leave his ranch as a national park, so that it can’t be ruined instead of giving it to family to sell as if that were something we could expect from wealthy folks). The government nerd meant to handle Native American affairs keeps dropping his glasses and pleading to be allowed to do his job. All in all this is a grotesque film masquerading as a comedy of traditions having to butt heads with the changing feels of the end of the 19th century as women were fighting for voting rights and Native Americans were struggling for national recognition.
If McLintock is hard to like, the racist settlers are worse, and the era is probably not incorrectly represented except that the patronizing was probably less familial and more violent. How these people ended up owning giant tracts of land to begin with is a bit of a difficulty not dealt with.
McLintock is running free on Hulu (usa) and is another under the belt for the era in which I was born.