A spanking good time?

mcclintock 800x600

McClintock is a much later Wayne/O’Hara pairing – ten years later – which is a long time in the life of a female movie star, and the great and wonderful and beauteous Maureen (is there anyone of either gender who doesn’t just adore her?) has moved from being the youthful love interest to being an estranged wife and the mother of the youthful love interest (played by Stephanie Powers). It may just be me, but however beautiful the daughter is, it is still Maureen who steals every scene she’s in; here we see something rarely glimpsed in Hollywood – a maturer woman carrying the sex-symbol scenes against a younger one.

We hear about her before we see her. The Duke plays ‘GW McClintock’, one of those cattle barons who came up the hard way when the West was being won. We eventually learn that at one stage GW and Katie had to pawn her father’s medal to buy food for their baby – but GW’s toughness and business sense won through, and by the time we meet them, he’s the man who owns the town and the whole of the Mesa Verde.

GW, as he’s known, is a hard-drinking, hard-hitting sort of a guy – we see early on that he’ll take no nonsense from young bucks half his age – but that’s not him being high and mighty, it’s him defending his own.

We eventually learn that he has an estranged wife – but not why she is estranged. She is ‘back east’ as is the daughter, Becky, who’s at College there. GW is proud of Becky, but we get a sense that ‘back east’ is not a place he’d want to be – neither does he like the college boy she takes up with. You can see he’d prefer her to be with a guy like the young homesteader (his son, Patrick) who he’s taken a shine to (after being punched by him). That he comes with an attractive young widowed mother played by Yvonne de Carlo, sure doesn’t harm his chances. This adds to the tension when Katie – or Katherine as she insists everyone calls her – comes back to stay at the family mansion.

The film is, loosely (very loosely) based on the ‘Taming of the Shrew’ – though the name of the central female character and one of the famous scenes at the end are about the one sign of it. Katherine has a sharp tongue and rides GW with it; he puts up with it because – well a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do, and she’s still his wife.

We see that Becky, the daughter, is something of chip of her mother’s block, as she’s quite patronising to the young man – Dev, and although she clearly likes him, blows him out in favour of the epicene college boy. Eventually Dev snaps and puts her over his knee and spanks her – she gets indignant, especially when GW won’t help her.

The film finishes in memorable fashion, with Katherine having driven GW too far, losing her outer garments as she flees, before ending up being spanked by GW  – and as Maureen later said: “He really spanked me! My bottom was black and blue for weeks!” Needless to say, they don’t get divorced.

I grew up with the film, and it was only when watching it recently with a female friend that I realised how it looked if not played for laughs – was it not, she wondered, somewhat abusive and demeaning to the women concerned? Like so many films of that era (it came out in 1963) some of its attitudes jar with our modern way of seeing things, but if we insist on driving out humour and applying our own standards of political correctness (OK, not yours Neo!), we’ll be left with some pretty dull things to watch. It is a comedy of manners, and the comedy works because it runs the old theme of the domineering wife getting her comeuppance; if you don’t find it funny, better not watch.

It would be unfair to compare it with the last film, or with the ones we’ll be looking at over the next few days – John Ford was a genius, and you can’t compare this romping comedy with the grandeur of his visions of Ireland and America. But heck, it’s a good way to pass a couple of hours, and to admire the Duke and Maureen sparking off each other. And I know at least one guy in these parts not so politically correct that he turns it off before the ending.


About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

13 Responses to A spanking good time?

  1. NEO says:

    No, it surely doesn’t offend me. And if it does anyone, well they need to get a life. As you note, it’s a recurring phenomenon, Shakspeare wrote of it, and I’ll bet some Greek did, back in the day, as well.

    And nobody, but nobody, ever played as well with the Duke as Maureen! Stephanie who? I never noticed her.

    The other scene I love, is much earlier in the film before GW hires Dev. Dev says something about GW doing exactly what he wants, and GW reminds him that as a rancher, every housewife in America is his boss, because he has to sell those cattle. An important lesson there, as well.

    And, it’s uproariously funny, as well. Yup, it’s in my top five, and for all your cavilling around Jess, I bet it is in yours as well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Yes, I love it – it hadn’t occurred to me to complain until I watched it with someone who’d never seen it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • NEO says:

        Silly girl, she is. But then, I know she knows better! 🙂 Part of what made it so funny was the whole durn town cheering GW on. That was one girl who knew how to crank everyone’s crank!

        Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Yes, it does rather lead up to it I think. No satisfying some people!

          Liked by 1 person

        • NEO says:

          Indeed it does!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. We should not forget about one of John Wayne’s favorite actors he did some movies with, i.e. his son Patrick Wayne, (76)! He is ten years older than me (born, 1939, myself 1949). And his youngest son Ethan Wayne (54) is still around in these parts I believe, Newport Beach.

    Btw one Patrica Ann “Pat” Stacy Donahugh (1941-1995), was John Wayne’s companion for the last six years of his life, and a Newport Beach girl herself. She wrote a book about their love relationship: “A Love Story”. Yes, I am just a fan myself! Btw, Ethan Wayne and my brother were born the same year (1962). What a small world out here in the OC! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Thanks for much Fr Robert – small world indeed!


      • Yes, I have met a few who knew the Duke and family, and were Newport Beach people! The stories are many! I love the Southern Calif. beaches! The people here are busy, but generally friendly. 🙂

        *I got to preach in a ‘Continuing Anglican Church’ and fellowship in Newport Beach. Just a small bunch, but quite alive!

        Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Sounds pretty idyllic – and what a great pairing the Duke and Maureen were.


        • As Neo knows, I could go on and on about “Maureen”! Note the connection between her and Charles Laughton, who suggested the change of her last name from FitzSimons to O’Hara! The rest is history! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Well, even as a girl, I think she’s drop dead gorgeous, so I can hardly imagine what you men think 🙂


        • Yes, she was a “bomb” in the movie: The Hunchback of Notre Dame! I know my Irish male family was nuts about her! And it just continues… with all of us who are left! A “beauty” she was, and a class act!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. *Of course that youngest son, is John Wayne’s, he and Patrick are brothers.

    Liked by 1 person

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