John Wayne's most popular vehicle of the 1960s is a broad, boisterous comedy-Western and a family movie in every sense--in subject matter, casting, personnel, and the audience it aims to bear-hug. Wayne and his Quiet Man partner Maureen O'Hara reprise their large-boned lovers' quarrel in a Wild West variation on The Taming of the Shrew, while a cast of familiar supporting players do their best to avoid becoming collateral damage.
The picture is fascinating as an attempt to adjust and update the Duke as all-American icon. Rancher George Washington McLintock owns most of the town that bears his name, but James Edward Grant's screenplay is at didactic pains to establish the benevolence and socio-political enlightenment of his reign. G.W.'s former Indian foes have become his pals, he enjoys nothing so much as playing chess with his Jewish merchant buddy (Jack Kruschen), and he's tolerant--as his fellow landowners are not--of the homesteaders crowding into the territory. In what now seems like prescience about where things were headed in the 1960s, he even does his best to achieve rapport with (gasp!) impatient youth.
McLintock! was the first movie produced by eldest son Michael Wayne, and the first major assignment for director Andrew V. McLaglen (son of Quiet Man costar Victor). It steals like a bandit from a host of much better movies, but the Duke's great good humor and professionalism redoubtably anchor the proceedings. --Richard T. Jameson