Wayne, Michael - Content
Michael Wayne (about John Wayne)
GoodTimes, left, and MPI "McLintock!" VHS tapes, circa 1993
From the April 18, 1993, Deseret News
"Why isn't that movie on video?" That's the most frequently asked question about favorite old flicks that remain locked away in some producer's vault. Walt Disney's "Fantasia" and Steven Spielberg's "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" headed the list for some time, until they eventually received video release.
But for the past decade, the most consistently asked-about title — and unquestionably the No. 1 most requested for the past three or four years — is a 1963 John Wayne comedy-Western called "McLintock!"
Last week, "McLintock!" finally made it to videotape — in not one but two versions. And Michael Wayne, son of the Duke, isn't happy about it.
John Wayne, left, with producer-son Michael Wayne on a movie set in 1974.
"I've tried to be prudent in the way I've distributed the film," Wayne said in a telephone interview. "I believe less is more. It's been on television in the past 30 years probably four or five times, and I feel like about every seven years is as much as anybody would want to see it."
His tape of "McLintock!" is on the MPI Home Video label, retailing at $19.98. But another tape of "McLintock!" is also in stores, on the GoodTimes Home Video label, selling for $14.95.
Wayne says that in terms of quality, his "authorized" video has the edge, since it was made directly from the film's original negative and the tape plays on the faster, high-quality SP speed. The Good-Times tape is on the slower, lower-quality LP speed.
MPI has sued GoodTimes for copyright infringement, claiming Wayne holds ownership of the film. But GoodTimes, through attorney Andrew Baum (of the New York firm Darby & Darby), says Bajac Productions failed to renew the film's copyright in 1991, allowing "McLintock!" to fall into public domain. And anyone with access to a public-domain print can release it on video.
"I can't really comment on the lawsuit or whether the film is in public domain," Wayne said, though he added that he wonders how GoodTimes obtained a print of the film. "I don't think it's in public domain, but a judge or a jury will have to decide.
"I feel we have a very good position against GoodTimes. In fact, they may have copied from one of my prints. I own all the physicals, the personal property. The copyright is one thing but they may have taken their video from one of my own prints!"
Wayne said he feels his first duty is to his father's fans. "My father instilled in me the same philosophy he had, that you work for the fans. You put your best foot forward and give the best product possible. We worked hard to restore the film and put out a top-flight video. An inferior version reflects badly on John Wayne, Michael Wayne and Batjac Productions.
One apparent area of dispute is the film's music. "(GoodTimes) has said that (the film) is in public domain and in the same breath that the music isn't. I mean, either the thing is in public domain or it isn't. The music is integral to the film. It can't be separated from the film. I mean, are you a little bit pregnant? I don't know how that works."
And he concedes that it was word that GoodTimes was planning to release "McLintock!" on video that prompted him to get his own tape on the shelves. "There were rumors all around, so we thought we'd better get something out."
There's also a more personal stake with this particular film. Wayne is listed in the film's credits as the sole producer of "McLintock!" "This is kind of my baby. It was the first film I got an individual production credit on, so I'm emotional about it."
Wayne also owns three other films starring his famous father — "The High and the Mighty," "Hondo" and "Island in the Sky." Except for a 3-D television charity showing of "Hondo" a couple of years ago, none of these movies has been seen anywhere in the past decade.
"I would say that during the next year we will come out with those on video as well, and probably through MPI," Wayne said.
As for the popularity of "McLintock!" Wayne says he thinks its appeal lies in its broad comedy. "It was a total departure for (John Wayne). It was kind of a bold thing for him to do. He always had humor in his films, but this one bordered on slapstick comedy, and I know that it was something we had to tell the fans about in the advertising and publicity, so they wouldn't go in expecting `The Searchers.' This is really our `Taming of the Shrew.' "
Wayne also had high praise for his father's "McLintock!" co-star, Maureen O'Hara. "Maureen, unlike a lot of other female stars, was very physical and every bit a match for John Wayne. She was as much a woman as he was a man.
"They were very, very close friends. She always said he treated her like one of the guys, though I find that hard to believe."
And with regard to the two competing videos? "Tell your readers to buy ours. They'll notice the difference."
Editor's note: For an update on the DVD/Blu-ray releases of "McLintock!" see a recent Deseret News column here.