75 user 27 critic

McQ (1974)

2:14 | Trailer
Seattle cop is caught up in a corrupt police force that he is trying to make right. Mq is a cop with a mission.


John Sturges


Lawrence Roman





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Lon McQ
Eddie Albert ... Ed Kosterman
Diana Muldaur ... Lois Boyle
Colleen Dewhurst ... Myra
Clu Gulager ... Franklin Toms aka Frank
David Huddleston ... Edward W. Farrow aka Pinky
Julian Christopher ... J.C. Davis (as Jim Watkins)
Al Lettieri ... Manny Santiago
Julie Adams ... Elaine
Roger E. Mosley ... Rosey
William Bryant ... Stan Boyle
Richard Kelton ... Radical
Joe Tornatore ... LaSalle
Dick Friel Dick Friel ... Bob Mahoney
Richard Eastham ... Walter Forrester


Police Lieutenant Lon McQ investigates the killing of his best friend and uncovers corrupt elements of the police department dealing in confiscated drugs. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Wayne on wheels! See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


A novelization of the film, written by Alexander Edwards, was published in 1974 by Warner Books. The novel was written before the filming of the movie and consequent script changes. There are subtle differences, such as McQ living in an apartment rather than a boat, and the gun used by McQ in the climax is a Mauser in the book instead of the grander Mac 10 used in the movie. Some scenes are deleted or modified, but on the whole the book is true to the movie in both dialogue and plot. See more »


After McQ shows Myra the balloons of cocaine in his handkerchief, and gets up from the chair, the balloons roll off the handkerchief and onto the floor. When he is rebuffed by Myra, and returns to the chair, the cocaine is back on the handkerchief and not on the floor. See more »


Police Officer: What happened?
McQ: [after punching a radical who insulted him] He bumped into a chair.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1980s Warner Home Video VHS master was made from a 16mm TV print missing ten seconds of footage including during the car chase involving a laundry truck, an additional punch from Santiago when he confronts McQ in his office, and the introduction of Santiago's henchman before the final chase on the beach. The later video releases and DVD are uncut. See more »


Edited into La Classe américaine (1993) See more »

User Reviews

My Sinful Pleasure
20 February 2007 | by inspectors71See all my reviews

My opinion of John Sturges' McQ has evolved over the years. I saw it thirty years ago on NBC (with only a few bullet holes and mild curse words eliminated) and thought it was a flabby, but relatively decent little cops and robbers flick. It had the additional enjoyment of being filmed, in part, in Seattle, an exotic city some 280 miles from my home, Spokane.

John Wayne was something of a cartoon to me when I was a teenager. I didn't understand or appreciate his body of work and that he was a unique performer--to paraphrase his words, "not an actor, but a re-actor." His screen persona was simple and subtle, very human yet heroic. I didn't see any of this; McQ was just John Wayne putting on a business suit (as the reviewer in Time said, "Seems like putting Cary Grant in bib overalls"), strapping on an exotic weapon, and sliding behind the wheel of a Trans Am to go kick drug-dealer butt. McQ wasn't anything special. Just a cop movie with an old guy playing young.

As I got older--and saw McQ uncut on WTBS or KSTW--I began to appreciate both the film and its star even more. Yet I knew that the conventional wisdom of McQ was that it was a ridiculous attempt to modernize Wayne's image, to cash in on his stardom (which it didn't; McQ flopped at the box office). I declared McQ to be my official "Sinful Pleasure," a really bad movie that is truly lovable.

Think of a dog so ugly it's cute.

I taped a keeper copy of it off Cinemax, watched it every year or so. A DVD came a couple of years ago. I realized I never get tired of this movie. It's got lots to complain about--the looping of the dialogue is atrocious, the geography is laughable, the clichés are stacked like cord-wood, and the thought of all the better things John Sturges did in his career keeps popping into my mind.

Yet . . .

Wayne is at his most comfortable, maybe his best work since In Harm's Way. The crime drama itself plays out nicely, with clues being offered out at just the right pace, Seattle and the Olympic Penninsula are beautifully sun-washed and crisp-looking, and Wayne's costars give real weight to the movie--Colleen Dewhurst, Eddie Albert, Diana Muldaur, and David Huddleston, to name a few. There are a few over-the-top scenes that stretch credulity (his confiscation of a MAC-10 machine pistol from a gun dealer and talking Ebonics to Roger E. Mosley come to mind), but our affection for Wayne, and his professionalism, allow him to tame the gamier moments. You actually can believe his call for help to Seattle patrolmen when his car is demolished by a couple of semis, "Get some foam on this thing. I'm up to my butt in gas!" His embarrassment when asking for money from ex-wife Julie Adams and her moneybags husband is one of the best moments in the movie. And, of course, his being seduced by Dewhurst, at first, is so off-putting that you may want to make a Mystery Science Theater 3000 comment at the screen.

But if you're anywhere near adulthood, realize this: Middle aged people (Wayne's character is in his fifties and so is Dewhurst's) have sex. Wayne is the gentleman, here. He's being approached by Dewhurst and he doesn't want his saying no to be hurtful or condescending. If you watch the scene more than once, I believe you will see it as a sweet and decent moment and not some sort of dirty joke about old folks.

This brings us back to the evolution of my opinion of McQ. First it was an okay shootemup, then a sinful indulgence, and now, a set of good performances that lift up an otherwise pedestrian crime drama. It's easy to brand a movie a "sinful pleasure" because you can trash it while enjoying it. Sort of a cheap shot; cowardice comes to mind. McQ is no longer a sin for me to enjoy. It's a pretty good movie with really good people.

I recommend it, warts, jive, and all.

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Release Date:

6 February 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

McQ See more »


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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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