Movie Review: McQ (1974)
“McQ-he’s a busted cop, his gun is unlicensed, his methods are unlawful and his story is incredible!”
Director: John Sturges
Cast: John Wayne, Eddie Albert, Diana Muldaur
Synopsis: The murder of his partner leads a tough Seattle cop to suspect corruption in the police force.
John Wayne (The Sons of Katie Elder, The Shootist) unwisely strays into unfamiliar Dirty Harry territory in McQ, a derivative cop movie which was apparently originally intended for Steve McQueen. Perhaps Wayne realised his beloved Western genre was becoming outdated, even though he would eventually return to it for his final two movies. Here, in a role for which he is far too old, he plays a tough Seattle cop with a bee in his bonnet for local businessman Manny Santiago (the wonderful Al Lettieri – The Godfather), whom he suspects of importing drugs. Big John’s investigations following the murder of his partner also lead him to suspect that there is – gasp! – corruption amongst the ranks of the local police force.
Wayne’s pretty good in one of only a handful of contemporary cop roles he played, and the cast is rounded out with a raft of good character actors. Eddie Albert (Roman Holiday, Beloved Infidel), now firmly in the ‘bad guy’ stage of his career, is the police chief with whom McQ repeatedly locks horns; Diana Muldaur is the grieving widow of his former partner; Clu Gulager (The Last Picture Show) a fellow cop who thinks the same way as McQ. The whole film has that recognisable 1970s feel about it, with hip-talking black dudes wearing the kind of duds now worn only by skinny white blokes at 70s fancy dress parties, and some decent car chases. It’s a sad truth that car chases never looked so good as when the participants were racing those hulking, over-sized tanks that have now all but disappeared from America’s roads.
(Reviewed 13th January 2012)