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Film / McLintock!

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McLintock! is a 1963 American Western comedy film directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara.

Colorado cattle baron George Washington McLintock (Wayne) is living the single life on his ranch. He is estranged from his snobbish wife Katherine (O'Hara), who left him two years before. McLintock hires young Devlin Warren (Patrick Wayne) as a hand and his beautiful mother Louise (Yvonne De Carlo) as his cook and welcomes their family into his home. He also butts heads with Matt Douglas (Gordon Jones), a sleazy bureaucrat who is looking to discredit McLintock and remove the local Indians. Sparks begin to fly as an unexpected turn of events results in brawls, gunfire, an Indian attack... and the return of Mrs. McLintock, who wants a divorce from G.W. and custody over their daughter Becky (Stefanie Powers), who's coming home from college in the East.

The film has the following tropes:

  • Accidental Innuendo: Drago In-Universe, upon seeing the quite attractive Louise Warren, just after he and G.W. sampled her excellent cuisine.
    Drago: "Ma'am, this here's my boss—and he has a few choice words to say about your biscuits."
    (G.W. double-takes)
  • An Aesop: It's a running theme of the movie that sophistication and no hard work is a flaw. Not only is there the problem of Katie, there are no less than three Obstructive Bureaucrats running around in charge of dealing with Indians without actually dealing with them, and one of them has a son, Douglas Jr., a college dude who got a letter in glee club and weasels out of breaking up a fight by putting glasses on. Even Becky has a little too much college in her.
    • It does make certain exception regarding Young Ben, who's all hard work and not enough intellect, and who thuggishly beats Davy up for dancing with his sister and being an Indian, only to be outdone by Devlin, a trained boxer.
    • Mr. Burnbaum the general store manager plans to give a prepared speech for Becky's return, only to chide himself and give one from the heart instead.
    • G. W. tells Becky he plans to put away most of his wealth into a national park and only give Becky and her future husband a small home and land to work (which is more than her parents had when they started) so they can "grow together" like he and Katie did.
  • Anti-Nepotism: McLintock tells Becky that he intends to will most of his estate to be made into a park, leaving a small spread for her. Not much, but it's more than her parents started out with.
    "Some folks are gonna say I'm doin' all this so I can sit up in the hereafter and look down on a park named after me, or that I was disappointed in you, didn't want you to get all that money. But the real reason, Becky, is because I love you, and I want you and some young man to have what I had, because all the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can't equal what happens between a man and a woman with all that growin' together. I can't explain it any better than that."
  • Badass Family: The McLintock family.
  • Battle Butler: GW's foreman and butler Drago is a skilled brawler and former Indian fighter.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Katherine, she almost always gets dirty and got a shiner from a knockout brawl with the men.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Boy Howdy!
    McLintock: Half the people in the world are women. Why does it have to be you that stirs me? (Passionate kiss)
    • Dev and Becky are no better, going from flirting to bickering in the space of a single sentence.
  • Benevolent Boss: McLintock is very much this. When he hires Devlin, he secretly gives Drago some money to give the proud young man and his struggling family, saying, "Tell him I pay my men a month in advance."
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Louise Warren, she's a perfect lady and an Old West Yamato Nadeshiko, but she gruffly tells Katie they better talk things out or else she'll give Katherine another black eye for her Slut-Shaming comments.
    • Burnbaum the store clerk is unambiguously the kindest and most indulgent of Katherine's terrible attitude. Burnbaum is also the one who finally snaps and insists G.W. do something about her at the climax, something more effective than talking.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins
  • Butt-Monkey: Agard (played by Strother Martin) is always in the wrong place at the wrong time whenever some kind of a fighting event breaks out.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": GW is not intoxicated. Yet.
  • Camp Cook: Louise Warren, but she's a really good cook.
  • Cattle Baron: McLintock; he started out as a rancher and worked long and hard so his wife and daughter would prosper.
  • Chinese Shop Owner: Ching, until he retires and is made "part of the family" by McLintock so he won't work himself too hard.
    Ching: Crummy family, crummy family!
  • Corporal Punishment: Rather notoriously, the film is known for featuring two lengthy punishment spanking scenes between romantic couples, with Becky and Katherine on the receiving ends—using of all things a coal shovel!
  • Daddy's Girl: Becky looks up to her father and is happy when he expresses pride in her.
  • Destination Defenestration: How Katie leaves one of the shops G.W. finds her in during the climax.
  • Determined Homesteader: G.W. decides to give Becky a small homestead instead of his entire estate as an inheritance because he believes the homesteading experience will help her and her future husband build character.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Becky demands that her father shoot Dev for the latter's wild driving and for characterizing her as a trollop. To Becky's shock, G.W. does shoot Dev... with a blank cartridge. Dev decides to spank her in retaliation.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Davey Elk is a college graduate, a track runner, a bookkeeper, and a telegrapher, and seethes at how everyone in town just calls him "the Indian."
  • Epic Fail: Katherine probably expected to last the big brawl Kicking Ass in All Her Finery. She probably did not expect to end up tumbling down into the mud pit when the latest guy she pokes (G.W., incidentally) inadvertently knocks her back....
  • Everyone Is Armed: G.W. is dealing with an angry farmer and his friends. The farmer claims his daughter had been kidnapped but the daughter and one of G.W.'s men show up a few seconds later, having gone out on a ride together. The farmer is still angry. The employee tells G.W. he didn't mean any harm towards the farmer's daughter. G.W. responds its not important but since nearly everyone in the immediate area is armed with some sort of firearm the employee should definitely not draw his piece.
    McLintock: The important thing is that you don't draw that hog-leg, or this'll be worse than Dodge City on Saturday night!
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Played with. When Louise asks Katie who gave her a black eye, Katie proudly declares, "Nobody gave it to me, I won it!"
  • Fiery Redhead: Maureen O'Hara's character, Katherine; her behavior certainly fits that red hair.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Devlin, Young Ben, and Davy all appear to make peace after each of them has been humbled in a fist fight. All within the same ten minutes, no less.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: GW McLintock's estranged wife comes back into town to demand a divorce, which he will not do because he enjoys making her miserable and knows deep down she doesn't really hate him.
  • The General's Daughter: Averted, in that McLintock respects Devlin as a hard worker and a fine young man; when he and Becky announce their engagement at the end of the movie, he is overjoyed.
  • Graceful Loser: Young Ben and Dev Warren get in a fight, and Young Ben gets socked in the face repeatedly without being able to land a hit on Dev. Turns out Dev spent two years in college on the Purdue boxing team. Young Ben is more impressed than upset.
  • HA HA HA—No: Katherine to Governor Humphrey, after he asks that she didn't tell GW about "you and me". She tells him off, telling him that he isn't the only man to try to romance her and fail and kicks him off close to the horseriders and some egg in the face.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: At one point during the mud fight, Katie decides to stick one of the feathers from her hat into G. W.'s rear. This causes him to swing his arms back in pain, accidentally shoving her down into the mud pool.
  • Hollywood Blanks: Averted when G.W. shoots Dev on Becky's demand. Dev isn't hurt because he wasn't that close, but the blank sets part of his shirt on fire, and he has to beat it out.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Not only is G.W. a Cattle Baron, he also admits to owning a chunk of the town named after him. He's also quite the Benevolent Boss and is the voice of reason among the different factions in the region.
  • Humiliation Conga: Getting her butt (literally!) whacked by McLintock is the least of Katherine's worries.
  • Hypocritical Humor: From the Duke himself:
    George Washington McClintock: I know, I know. I'm gonna use good judgement. I haven't lost my temper in forty years, but pilgrim you caused a lot of trouble this morning, might have got somebody killed... and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won't, I won't. The hell I won't! (Belts Jones in the mouth)
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Said about an older Native American woman, Tiny Mouse, by McLintock.
    You wouldn't believe this, but 20 years ago she was quite the handsome maid.
    • When Douglas scoffs at this, Tiny Mouse pointedly reminds him (while smackin' him in the butt the first of two times) that 20 years ago, he thought so too.
  • Injun Country: Actually the Indians were fighting to stay in one particular part of the country; unfortunately Cuthbert H. Humphrey had other ideas.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: McClintock cautioning the settlers. They don't take kindly to him telling them their journey was worthless. But as he says "God made that land for the buffalo. It serves pretty well for cattle. But it hates the plow! And even the government should know you can't farm six thousand feet above sea level!"
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Katherine is as fierce as her fashion sense is delicious; the men, including GW, don't look too shabby themselves.
  • Large Ham: Running Buffalo. Especially when he's waxing eloquent about whiskey.
  • Leg Focus: Katherine, who ends up running around in her chemise, corset, and pantelettes, is the only woman in the film to show off her legs.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • Katherine fled two years earlier under the mistaken belief McLintock had cheated on her. Coming home to find Mrs. Warren working in the house doesn't help matters...
    • G.W. comes home drunk at one point and Mrs. Warren tries to explain something for him, only for G.W. to insist she join him in a few drinks. During an attempt to help her upstairs like a gentleman, G.W. causes them to both to topple backwards and Katie comes out to find Mrs. Warren in her husband's lap.
    • Becky sticks her nose into her parents' disagreement, speculating to her dad's face that he's involved with another woman.
  • Miss Kitty: Camille Reedbottom is a decade or so older than her fellow scantily clad saloon girls, seems to be their leader, and clashes with Katherine after showing interest in McLintock.
  • Mood Whiplash: The lynching of an innocent man is narrowly avoided, and then the scene turns into a brawl with everyone getting thrown into a mud pit.
  • No-Sell: When Fauntleroy Sage attempts to avenge the family honor in response to Devlin whippin' Young Ben, G.W. attempts to keep him out of it only for Devlin to give the okay. Devlin proceeds to punch Fauntleroy eleven times in the face to no effect; he doesn't even realize anything's happening until the tenth punch. The bigger man then knocks Dev backwards over a table with one hit.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: McLintock invokes this trope at one point when Devlin refers to himself as just the "hired help"
    "Every so often Dev, you spell the strangest ideas. Everybody works for somebody. I work for everybody in the East United States that steps into a butcher shop for a T-Bone steak and you work for me, it's not much difference."
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Three of them: Matt Douglas, the Manipulative Bastard in charge of the homesteaders who raises sentiment against McLintock and the Indians; Agard, the government's representative for the Comanche but who can't so much as speak the language; and lastly, the stupid, pompous Governor C. H. Humphrey, who's in charge of the whole territory.
    "Cuthbert H. Humphrey, Governor of our territory, is a cull. Do you know what a cull is, ma'am? A cull is a specimen that is so worthless that you have to cut him out of the herd. Now if all the people in the world were put in one herd, Cuthbert is the one I would throw a rope at."
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Katherine is shown in one scene in her white frilly petticoat and corset with green ribbon trim, it shows off her torso rather nicely as well.
  • Older Than They Look: Louise Warren, by the men's reactions she looks quite young to have a teenage or young adult boy as her son.
  • Only Sane Indian: Running Buffalo, along with the rest of the Comanche. They're standing around most of the movie watching crazy white folk act up. Running Buffalo also helps G.W. off the ground twice & walks through and away from the mudfight unscathed.
  • Parasol of Pain: During the epic mudfight, Katherine decides to join in the fun and starts Kicking Ass in All Her Finery...sort of. She uses her parasol to whack and a pin from her hat to poke opponents in the butt!
  • Pet the Dog:
    • One of the early indications that Kate's not such a bad sort after all is that she's polite to a pre-teen porter and shares G.W.'s respect for the Comanche as human beings, as opposed to "savages".
    • Bigoted Obstructive Bureaucrat Agard shows concern for Katherine and Dev during various brawls.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Katherine is often in this mode of dress, they often get tarnished; Becky and Marion as well.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: Downplayed. Honest, hard-working G. W. is openly brusque during his first on-screen meeting with sophisticated, pompous Cuthbert, who is not a villain in the conventional sense so much as the biggest Obstructive Bureaucrat around.
    Cuthbert: Your husband is a rude man.
    Katherine: Yes, Cuthbert, I know.
  • Pride: Devlin's main weakness. A former college man forced to drop out to support his family. When he ends up begging McLintock for a job he finds it galling. McLintock, himself a proud man, recognizes this trait and assures Devlin otherwise.
    McLintock: Gave? You got it all wrong, boy. I don't give jobs, I hire men.
    Drago: You intend to give this man a full day's work, don'tcha boy?
    Devlin: You mean you're still hirin' me? Well, yes, sir, I certainly deliver a fair day's work.
    McLintock: And for that I'll pay you a fair day's wage. You won't give me anything and I won't give you anything. We both hold up our heads.
    • Knowing that Devlin wouldn't want a handout, McLintock has Drago give him $30 for his family, saying, "Tell him I pay my riders a month in advance."
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Devlin gets in a fight with a local ruffian during the welcome home celebration for Becky. Devlin takes care of the ruffian but then the ruffian's uncle shows up expecting justice. Devlin throws a mean punch, but the old man doesn't flinch and Devlin gets an Oh, Crap! look on his face before the old man realizes what happened and decks the young'un with one blow.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sheriff Lord lets Douglas have it with one sentence near the beginning.
    Douglas: Just "Douglas," and you call him "Mister" McLintock. Why?
    Sheriff: Well, Douglas, I guess it's because he earned it.
  • Recycled In Space: It's The Taming of the Shrew... in The Wild West!
  • Redhead In Green: Katie tends to favor this color family and has the red hair to stand the more out.
  • Rich Bitch: Katherine, oh so much.
  • Rags to Riches: McLintock. When Becky was a baby, Katherine walked miles through the snow and traded her father's war medal for a case of condensed milk.
  • Riches to Rags: The Warrens' backstory. When Dev Warren's father died, he left his wife Louise penniless and his son had to drop out of Purdue.
  • Rule of Funny: The fight scene near the mud-hole; everyone that could fall in... did.
  • Running Gag: McLintock tossing his hat onto the weathervane atop his home. Up to 310 at last count.
  • The Savage Indian: Parodied. The town leaders treat the local Comanche tribe like neighbors for the most part. It's mostly outsiders — and inept Humphrey — who mistreat them and drive them to go on the warpath... something that doesn't even bother McLintock and his fellows one whit.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Becky, she is remarked to have lost her Girlish Pigtails and only a trace of the Youthful Freckles that grace her pretty face.
  • Shout-Out: John Wayne says "Pilgrim" in the "mud pit" scene! He actually said this less often than most people think—it comes from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Katherine has the look of a lady down pat and is swathed in a Pimped-Out Dress most of the time, yet she can fight as well as GW, holding her own in a brawl full of rough and ready men.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: GW and Katie despite their fighting and apparently cheating ways. GW is utterly confused about why Katie is so upset with him despite knowing about the lipstick on his collar. To quote him "Half the women in the world are women. Why does it have to be you that stirs me?" Implying he isn't really attracted to other women. He might smile at a saloon girl but he wouldn't take her upstairs. He knows he'd never cheat on her and it flabbergasts him why she'd ever doubt that. On the other hand he's upset that she danced with the Governor but unlike her isn't truly worried because he knows she won't cheat. To quote her response to the governor implying there was something between them. "Do you think you're the only man to try and play patty fingers with me? Who's ever tried to lure me out into the moon light? Well I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself and my husband knows it." You can see it between them when they see each other for the first time in two years.
  • Southern Gentleman: Ol' Douglas Jr. tries to be this, but mostly comes across as a hapless geek.
  • Stealth Insult: Downplayed; when Katherine first moves back in, Mrs. Warren mentions how she originally thought G.W.'s was a bachelor's household. Katherine informs her that after she's concluded her business and left, Mrs. Warren will be entirely free to conduct herself as she sees proper in a bachelor's household.
    Drago: Katie!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: If this movie has the look and feel of a John Ford production... it's because it uses a lot of Ford's Production Posse in the cast and crew.
  • Take That!: Cuthbert H. Humphrey was named as a dig at Senator Hubert Humphrey, whom John Wayne immensely disliked.
  • Tar and Feathers: Mrs. McLintock gets covered with molasses and then feathers during the climactic Indian raid. First, the barrel of molasses behind her gets shot. Then, as she runs around, she lands in the feather bag.
  • Tempting Fate: After G.W. knocks Katherine over in the mud pit, she gets up and starts hollering at him. G.W. mockingly responds with "Well, at least we saved you're hat", only for Agard to slide down the hill and plow into her, knocking her over and ruining said hat.
  • This Is Not My Life to Take: Although not a death, something similar to this is subverted. John Wayne's character is thoroughly pissed at another character who almost hung an innocent man, and after giving him a good chewing out, says, "Somebody ought to belt you in the mouth. But I won't. I won't. (beat) The hell I won't" and slugs him.
  • Tsundere: Katherine's about as Tsun-Tsun as it gets.
    McLintock: Katherine, you women are always raising hell about one thing when it's something else you're really sore about!
  • Turn the Other Fist: GW is sore at the guy who nearly got an innocent Commanche lynched when he baselessly accused the local tribe of kidnapping his daughter (she was actually spending some time with her boyfriend- "And the horse wandered away!"). On top of this, the same guy repeatedly jabbed GW in the gut with a shotgun when he tried to intervene. Once the situation has been diffused, GW grabs the gun away, gives him a verbal dressing down, and remarks that someone oughta belt him for the trouble he caused.
    McClintock: But I won't. I won't. Aw the hell I won't! [Brawl ensues]
  • The Wild West
  • Women Prefer Strong Men: Becky watches the brawl among the young guys from a distance, and ends up...quite impressed at Devlin's prowess.
  • Worthy Opponent: Puma and McLintock were on opposite sides of the Indian wars and in their old age are very affectionate, laughing about The Good Old Days and reflecting on the fact that the west doesn't seem to have room for either of them any more.
    • Even when they were still fighting each other, they still held each other in fairly high regard. Katie relates a story about aftermath of a fight that left GW badly wounded. Rather than finish him off or leave him for dead, Puma went to considerable trouble to bring GW home to recover.
    • The cavalry sergeant at the hearing addresses Puma and the other chiefs respectfully.
  • You Wouldn't Hit a Guy with Glasses: Ol' Jr. puts on a pair after he's told that somebody should put a stop to a fist fight he's currently watching.