Monday, April 29, 2019

Squeezing a Few Off

The seventies - the days when a man could 'squeeze a few off' in the back room of gun shop.  McQ is a film replete with a rich homoerotic sub-text - if The Duke isn't handling his piece, he's being described as a 'bear' and discovering that his 'partner' had been 'unfaithful' to him by taking back handers from gangsters.  There's just something about the way John Wayne - who has pushing seventy when he made this - growls his way through the film, driving a Trans Am too fast, flashing guns, beating up pimps and hippies, which gives the impression that he's trying to be macho just a little bit too hard, as if maybe he's secretly doubting his own machismo.  At any moment you expect him to grab another guy, plant a huge kiss on them, then start ripping their clothes off.  The Clint Eastwood US Marine flick, Heatbreak Ridge, stumbles into similar territory, when its exaggerated displays of masculinity tumble over into apparently unintended homoeroticism.

There is actually a Clint Eastwood connection to McQ, in that Wayne only secured the title role after Eastwood turned it down.  Which effectively brought things full circle, as Wayne had turned down the lead role in what was to become Dirty Harry, which not only made Eastwood a huge star, but which effectively kick-started the 'rogue cop' genre of which McQ was a prime example.  Indeed, with the casting of not just Wayne, but also Eddie Albert, as cops, McQ comes over as something of a geriatric Dirty Harry.  But it does have a good musical score and a couple of good car chases - indeed, it climaxes with a car chase down a beach.  Seen today, it seems incredibly reactionary with regard to its attitudes toward young people (they're all junkies and commie revolutionaries), women (untrustworthy and/or prostitutes), black people (the only good black men are the ones who act like white men, otherwise they are all pimps) and, well, the entire modern world.

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