McQ (DVD, 2007) Reviews
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McQ (DVD, 2007)

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You’re the Detective, Detect: McQ

Sep 4, 2001 (Updated Sep 4, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:John Wayne, supporting cast, script, direction, score

Cons:Unfamiliar role for Wayne, otherwise no cons.

The Bottom Line: John Wayne does a bang-up job as a tough cop like Sharky, Bullitt, and Dirty Harry. McQ needs to be better known so it gets the recognition it deserves.


McQ, the story of a tough cop, is delightful change of pace from the typical John Wayne movie. Gone are the endless Western vistas, the tumbleweeds, the trail dust, and the saloon brawls, replaced by a business suit, a Firebird 400, and a S&W 44 Magnum. The original choice for Dirty Harry, Wayne turned the role down, later proving he had what it takes by playing tough cop Lon McQ in this entertaining film.

Set in Seattle, McQ is the story of a drug deal gone bad. It opens with a mysterious series of hits performed by a guy who turns out to be a cop. Then the cop is hit himself… It turns out the rogue was none other than McQ’s partner, out moonlighting. Police Captain Kosterman (Eddie Albert) orders McQ to stay away from the case, so McQ resigns from the force. Kosterman believes it’s radicals and McQ believes it’s organized crime. It turns out they are both wrong…

McQ gets to the bottom of the case but before he does he has to bark up a number of blind alleys, face harassment from Kosterman, avoid assassination by the mob, and bed a lonely lady or two. One of the women is his dead partner’s wife. However, McQ senses that there is something fishy about a nubile young widow (beautiful Diana Muldaur) taking an interest in a crusty old detective and he puts her on his suspect list. During the course of events McQ’s lovely Firebird Formula 400 gets reduced to scrap metal.

For those who remember the Detroit muscle cars whose idle sounded like “glub – glub – glub,” this movie ranks up there with Bullitt or the French Connnection for high speed car chases and smash ups. Unlike other detectives, McQ borrows a unique weapon, a MAC 11 submachinegun to deal with the bad guys who are trying to get him. ”Lon, this machinegun isn’t registered” the gun dealer protests.” “Jack, neither am I,” McQ replies.

Wayne is very believable as an aging detective who has had a few hard knocks and yet remains a decent guy. There is none of Dirty Harry’s viciousness in Wayne’s McQ; still he means business and doesn’t take “no” for an answer. Wayne’s romantic scenes with the lovely Diana Muldaur and Colleen Dewhurst have sincerity stamped all over them and there is no doubt in my mind he was going to get the girl.

The cast was well-chosen and the supporting players including Eddie Albert, Clu Gulager, David Huddleston, and Al Lettieri were superb and played far better than the average detective cast. Colleen Dewhurst, always a favorite, and Diana Muldaur did wonderfully as the leading ladies. Finally, Roger C. Moseley (Magnum PI) did a bang-up job as a flashy pimp – one of McQ’s stool pigeons.

Director John Sturges did a fine job of putting the Lawrence Roman story on celluloid. It is a tribute to Sturges’ directorial ability that all the performances were believable and contributed to the story, unlike many of the throwaway scenes so often seen in typical detective movies. As always, the Elmer Bernstein score is impeccable, lending a sense of urgency to McQ’s quest to find out what happened to the dope and who killed his friend.

For fans who like a good detective story, McQ will be a pleasing experience. Also recommended are Sharky’s Machine, Dirty Harry, Madigan, Tightrope, and City Heat.



Recommend this product? Yes

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