8 Lessons from John Wayne's McLintock! (1963)

When you live in a wild West movie, you can either do things the McLintock! (1963) way or the wrong way.

This movie was released half a century ago and holds 8 timeless lessons from John Wayne and company by which we may all profit.

1. Whatever You Do, Don't Be Neighborly.
Young rancher Ben (Edward Faulkner) assumes the new settlers in town won't be able to feed themselves and might start slaughtering his herd without permission. He threatens to kill the farmers.

Teaching your new neighbors the ways of the West won't do. Just kill them; it's quicker.

2. Try to Punch Your Boss

Rancher McLintock (John Wayne) has no use for farmers, so he rejects farmer Devlin Warren (Patrick Wayne) who incessantly asks for a job. In Warren's last attempt, he explains why he needs a job - he's the sole supporter of his mother's family- and McLintock hires him.

Sickened that his plan for employment works, Devlin punches at McLintock, misses and keeps his job.

What does this tell you? Always, without exception, punch at the face of the guy who helps your family. Maybe knock out a few teeth and you could get a raise.

3. Wear Your Futuristic Salon Treatment in the Settlement Camp

Devlin's mother, Louise Warren (Yvonne De Carlo), is always ready for her closeup. She's traveled thousands of miles over rough terrain, has no money and has lost her husband, but -boy!- does she look like she just slinked out of an Elizabeth Arden chair.

The Jackie Kennedy bouffant, the false eyelashes out to there, the lip rouge all traveled backwards almost 70 years to rest delicately onto Mrs. Warren in the dingy settlement camp. Dust wouldn't dare cling to her; she's Future Mom -Pristine Visitor From Another Century!

4. Threaten Death to Your Loved Ones and Friends; It's Funny

Within the first few hours of McLintock's day, either he or someone he does business with threatens the lives of several people that he likes.

Family Cook: "If you fire me, I'll kill myself."
McLintock: "I may save you the trouble."

Our hero, folks. Our hero.

5. Flirt With a Guy, Then Don't, Then Flirt, Then Don't, Then Push Him Away. Next Guy. Rinse. Repeat.

McLintock's daughter Rebecca (Stefanie Powers) is home from school and she is fickle. One minute she's flirting outrageously with a guy, the next she wants nothing to do with him.  It's like her romance switch flips on then off again without warning.

Then it turns back on. She picks up another guy and does the same routine. Then falls back on the first guy...

Swallow a Dramamine to keep up with her motivations without becoming dizzy and nauseous.

6. A Fistfight Will Change Anyone's Mind

Ben knocks out Davey (Perry Lopez) for daring to want to marry Ben's sister.  Davey loses, so, obviously he cannot marry the woman with whom he has been mutually flirting for years.

The law of the fist has spoken.

Devlin starts a fight with rancher Ben because... he has an itch? Who knows. It's not clear. Fight-happy farm boy Devlin wins. After his concussion, Ben suddenly admires the farmers he wanted to murder.

The law of the fist reigns supreme.

[That's why the story won't let Devlin's fist make contact with McLintock's face earlier; it might completely change the plot.]

Then, an uncle -who has nothing else to do with this movie before or after this scene- thrashes Devlin for belting nephew Ben. I'm convinced this last fight only happens so we can have the frame above of all the young guys with black eyes. Let's call it "Three Blind Mice."

7. Paddle the One You Want to Marry; She'll Love You

Just as Devlin loves to punch a guy for no reason, he's also not above striking a woman (on the other set of cheeks).

He and Rebecca argue over nothing. She demands that her father shoot the guy; that will stop the argument. (Wow, Rebecca! What were they teaching you at school? I hope you were not allowed on the debate team.)

McLintock shoots the guy with a blank cartridge and scorches Devlin's shirt. Learning his lesson earlier that McLintock's face cannot be punched, Devlin spanks Rebecca instead.

Ah! Puppy love.

8. Paddle Your Estranged Wife; She'll Return to You

Katherine McLintock (Maureen O'Hara) has been a sourpuss the whole time. She's demanding a divorce but secretly wants to stay. How does McLintock respond? He spanks her... in her underwear ... in public... as everyone laughs.

This is a seriously screwed up family. Devlin will fit right in.

Who says movies are not educational? What lessons have you learned from McLintock!?


  1. The first picture (Ben) is Ed Faulkner.

    1. You're absolutely right. Duly noted; it has been changed. Thanks.

  2. Ha! This is a great post. I'm especially fond of lesson #2.


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