Die-hard John Wayne fans who shelled out their hard-earned bucks for those previously released abysmal-looking pan-and-scan "public domain" dvd atrocities are hereby advised to relegate them to the junk heap, where they most assuredly belong, and rush to their video stores to purchase Paramount's demo-worthy incarnation of Wayne's rollicking and rambunctious frolic entitled McCLINTOCK! (1963) The dvd cover proudly proclaims that this "authentic collector's edition" is "from original film elements," a fact which is instantly apparent from the opening frame to the last. The colors practically leap from the screen without a hint of blooming or distortion, and the entire Panavision image is lovingly enhanced for 16:9 TV's.

 High-falutin' critics of the day labeled this blissfully empty-headed affair as a Western version of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW because (A) Maureen O'Hara's name is Kathryn (B) she certainly is a dedicated shrew and (C) she ultimately gets her rump heartily whacked repeatedly by Wayne (with a iron shovel no less!), but the similarity ends there. 

What McLINTOCK! really has on its mind is family entertainment for the masses. Despite the outlandish mugging of the actors, the racial stereotyping of both Asians and Indians, the pronounced anti-feminism, the sheer outrageousness of the fierce and cartoonish fistfights (which seem to injure no one!), this film exhibits Wayne and company in such boisterous high spirits that it's virtually impossible not to get caught up in this energetic and good-natured opus.

Many films have tried to emulate George Steven's masterpiece SHANE with varying degrees of success. In 1985 Clint Eastwood tried it by retaining SHANE's story outline in a ludicrous and insulting mess called PALE RIDER, and in 1953 director John Farrow and star John Wayne delivered their homage (HONDO) to that monumental classic in respectable if not particularly unusual fashion.

Despite the pronounced similarities to SHANE that HONDO displays with great and enthusiastic regularity, we must face the fact that HONDO is in reality a perfectly acceptable and watchable Wayne oater with good performances, nice vistas and frequent hoss-opera action scenes that pop up just in time to alleviate boredom. It is best when viewing this film to accept it for what it is, not for what it aspires to be. 

The full-screen color transfer of HONDO is very fine, but one can't help feeling that the Wayne folk missed the boat by not releasing it in its original 3-D format and the 5.1 Surround reprocessing on both Wayne titles is crystal-clear and atmospheric but virtually without rear speaker activity.


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