Written by / 4/29/2016 / 1 Comment / , , , , , , , ,

JOHN WAYNE GETS DIRTY HARRY WITH A BULLITT IN 'MCQ'

year: 1974 cast: John Wayne, Diana Muldaur, Eddie Albert, Clu Gulager, Roger E. Mosely, Al Lettieri, Julie Adams
Sounding like an upbeat version of a jazzy New Orleans funeral march or a car honking to a clunky yet catchy rhythm, McQ’s main theme takes our hero, the title character played by John Wayne, through a string of mysterious and dangerous elements that starts out reminiscent of cop thrillers DIRTY HARRY and BULLITT but winds up very Film Noir, beginning with an unnamed gunman slaying several victims throughout the pre-dawn city streets, we soon realize he’s the partner of a veteran cop named McQ.

When that killer’s quickly shot down, McQ has to investigate… not knowing his partner had pulled off the murders beforehand… going from an ex wife, a former lover, a reluctant ratting pimp and a notorious drug dealer to get clues, mostly red herrings which lead him (the first time round) absolutely nowhere.
McQ takes out the trash
After he beats up Al Lettieri’s Santiago, the usual suspect with an aggressive lawyer and tons of connections, McQ drops his badge and winds up piggybacking on a private investigator/gumshoe’s license to learn things sans his burdening police moniker. Here’s where the action picks up as McQ becomes a target from hit men, drug dealers and even the police: the latter most likely responsible for a bundle of stolen cocaine.

John Wayne, despite his advanced age, is perfect in the grizzly role. Supposedly having watched Don Siegel’s DIRTY HARRY with envy, and wishing he could play that part – or get a role like it – The Duke did his first of two (followed by BRANNIGAN) police flicks: it’s fun seeing the usually straight-laced actor wearing a halo with horns, rolling up a dollar bill for a druggie waitress to get high or frantically driving his “green hornet” hotrod to wah-wah peddle 1970’s funk… all leading to a beachside car chase choreographed by stuntman/future action guru Hal Needham.
McQ takes aim in the final car chase
Director John Sturges was, like Wayne, best known for making Westerns, a genre McQ borrows from with the maverick loner verses an eclectic string of feisty (and often sneaky) antagonists, each with their own lethal agenda, sometimes even coming out of the woodwork with guns blazing.

But with the cool looking MAC-10 submachine gun and a snaky trail pitting one man against shadowy odds, this is really a modern Noir thriller providing a chance to see the American icon grittier, and often more vulnerable, than ever before: at least in a modern setting.
The Duke standing tall and taking no crap
McQ tries getting answers from Al Lettieri's seedy Santiago
McQ gets info from Roger E. Mosely as a slick pimp
Looks a lot like BULLITT
Clu Gulager as a fellow (or not so fellow) cop
MOVE RATING: ***1/2
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1 comment:

  1. As a huge John Wayne fan glad to see you review this movie. Now I'm going to have to go out and get this. I know I saw this but it's been a minute. Wayne with a MAC-10 and suppressor - a beautiful sight.

    Great review sir.

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