Several characteristics can usually describe films in the genre of western. After hearing the word western, people immediately imagine cowboys, gunfights, and horse chases. However, this genre is broader that one might think. For instance, the movie McLintock! directed in 1963 by McLaglen, explores the comedic potential of the western phenomenon. The film follows the everyday life of George Washington McLintock, the wealthiest man in the area. He owns not only the land, the mill, and the mines but also the respect of most people. During the film, McLintock encounters many problems and tries to solve them to the best of his abilities. This paper aims to review the movie McLintock! and describe its central themes.
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The movie has many heroes with different statuses and characteristics. The protagonist, McLintock, is a self-made man who prides himself on his occupation. He resolves issues by talking and establishing his dominance. He can be considered an example of masculinity that was very popular in the 60s – confident, assertive, and tough. He has a more diplomatic side as he is shown to disagree with politicians and defend indigenous people on most occasions. Moreover, he actively helps them as a translator and spokesperson. He is forceful and diplomatic at the same time. According to the words of the protagonist, he has not “lost his temper in forty years” (McLaglen). He allows himself to be aggressive when protecting people and fighting corrupt officials. Interestingly, the movie does not have much action that is often expected from western movies. Moreover, one of the scenes displays an unusual shift in the conflict. During one of the tense situations, two parties, McLintock’s followers and enemies, engage in a messy fight in the dirt, while the third side, Native Americans, simply watch. Moreover, the fight is not hostile in its usual sense but is filled with slapstick and comedy.
However, McLintock still adheres to the principles of differences between men and women. After the arrival of McLintock’s wife, Katherine, he has trouble understanding her thoughts and actions. Katherine is apprehensive of the protagonist’s way of living and wants a divorce and full custody of their daughter, Rebecca. McLintock does not agree with his wife and wants both Rebecca and Katherine to stay with him. The characters do not discuss their troubles calmly and respectfully but fight and diminish each other verbally. McLaglen tries to show that some level of chemistry is present between McLintock and his wife from the beginning.
In the end, the conflict is resolved in a manner that is both comedic and aggressive. Katherine’s dissatisfaction with her husband is completely ignored. McLintock spanks his wife with a coal shovel and agrees to the divorce. However, Katherine changes her opinion and decides to stay with him. Notably, the relationship between Rebecca and her love interest, Dev, is resolved is a similar way. This choice was the director’s decision to establish parallels between these people as it shows the dynamic between men and women in romantic relationships. The scenes of spanking show that by disagreeing with men, women are simply lying to themselves. Moreover, the masculinity of men that try to push a relationship is shown as positive. While in such situations as racial and territorial conflicts these qualities can be of use, the relationship issues can be resolved by other methods.
In the end, McLintock! is a comedy that can be viewed as a product of its time. Its choice to mix the genres of slapstick and comedy is refreshing, while the views on relationships and masculinity are somewhat outdated.
McLaglen, Andrew V., director. McLintock! Batjac Productions, 1963.