One of the unfortunate casualties of the current cultural climate is our inability to laugh at ourselves and the absurdities of life without feeling guilty or uncomfortable. “In good humor” is a phrase met with suspicion and derision by people with little to no sense of humor. And certain classics – be they film, literature, and other art forms – are chided for their “insensitivity” and cast into the netherworld of obscurity – no matter what truth about humanity they may or may not have brilliantly conveyed.
Such is the case with McLintock!, the 1963 comedy/western film starring screen legends John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It’s one of my favorite of Wayne’s films – right up there with The Searchers in terms of quality entertainment. McLintock! is one of Wayne’s most unconventional films. However, a film like this, with its broad humor and stereotyping, could never be made today, lest it is met with protests and condemnations from academia, government, and other corners of the professional protest industry.
Set near the end of the 1800s, John Wayne plays cattle baron George Washington “G.W.” McLintock – a man who seemingly has everything (at least to those outside of his inner circle) and engenders all sorts of jealousy from lesser men young and old. But when his estranged wife Katie (O’Hara) returns to his life after two years away, G.W. hides his hurt by locking horns with her, and Katie is more than eager to dig her heels in the sand. What follows is a story inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew – complete with back-and-forth manipulations and a classic battle of wills.