Watching McClintock with John Wayne the other Sunday got me thinking about the man, the person, behind the suave, charming persona of Jonathan Hart.
Now I am not a John Wayne fan per se, but I loved the character he played in that movie. George Washington McClintock was a man’s man- a big guy in many ways. A slugger, a drinker, a hard-liver, but at the same time smart, self-made, and business saavy. He was an up-from-nothing successful man and cunning, but humble, diplomatic, and fair in his dealings with others.
Beyond all that, though, he was a man in love with one helluva woman, his elegant and feisty Katie, played wonderfully by Maureen O’Hara. They had an onscreen chemistry, too.
With a very young Stefanie Powers playing the McClintocks’ daughter in this movie, it wasn’t a far strectch for me to make the comparison between them and the Harts, speifically GW McClintock to Jonathan Hart.
I had been entertaining this for a few days afterward, rolling it around in my mind, trying to get my thoughts together for this post, and then the picture on the right was posted to Facebook.
This was not an expression I was used to seeing on this face or in these eyes. It made me wonder. Keep in mind, I’m thinking of the character, Jonathan Hart, as I write about the photo, not the actual man pictured here.
What was he seeing at the moment? Who was on his nerves, and what had they done or said? What was on his mind as he looked at them in that way? There is a lot to be read there.
Just who is the whole person behind the handsome, charming facade? What makes him tick- other than the lovely, auburn haired obvious.
I, of course, absolutely love the character, his warmth, sensitivity, and good nature, but I always sensed there had to be more to him than the sort of flatly perfect individual he played in the series. Given who he started out as and what he made himself into, I always felt there had to be a deeper, maybe even darker side to him.
Although Hart isn’t as physically rugged as McClintock, he gives the impression he can hold his own. He seems the type to relish a good fight and at times has shown us he’s not one to back off duking it out when he had to or when provoked.
In one of the episodes where Jennifer is kidnapped, he tells the person involved, “If something happens to my wife, I will kill you.” He does it again in one of the movies under the same circumstances, only in the movie he says, “You know I’ll kill you.” Both times, I completely believed him, and wanted to yell out to the perpetrator, “Don’t mess with him about her! He’ll do it!”
After the McClintock movie went off, I watched a couple of theH2H episodes on DVD as motivation for pushing on with this story I’m struggling to finish, but I came away pondering even more questions about the man.
What, I wondered, is Jonathan Hart really like in the business world at those times we aren’t allowed to be there with him? After all, he wields an awful lot of power at the helm of the sprawling international conglomerate carrying his name. What kind of CEO is he in the boardroom? Is he always so laid back and congenial? Are there those who fear him? And if so, why?
What is it like for the people who work closely with him day in and day out? Is he diplomatic or is he more of an autocrat? How do the secretaries who manage his schedule and his business life really feel about him? What inside tracks do they have on him that nobody else is privy to?
Like GW McClintock, Jonathan Hart is an alpha male. He’s able, virile, and confident in both. A natural leader professionally and the head of his household, he’s not outwardly agressive or cocky in those capacities. He’s unusually evolved when it comes to his interactions with and his appreciation of women, but what is he like in the company and comraderie of other men? How does he handle himself in the company of attractive female peers? Or alluring women who are not his wife? He’s wealthy and powerful, not to mention good-looking and sexy, so it’s for sure he gets hit on. Is he ever tempted to stray, even mentally?
Is he ever not the debonaire, charismatic, “so very nice” man we’ve come to know? With all he has to take care of and keep watch over, does he ever get tired of it and want out? Is he ever inexplicably brooding or menacing in his demeanor causing his wife and daughter to be apprehensive about him? Or even avoid him for a period of time. I don’t like thinking of Jonathan in the negative, but let’s face it, he’s only human. He can’t be all good all the time.
Coming from such humble beginnings, an orphan child from San Francisco, just how did he make it so far up the economic and social ladder? In the series, he’s always portrayed as an intelligent, ambitious guy who just got lucky. I have kept him that way in the series, too, but was his rise to success simply a matter of good fortune, or was it more a case of being in the right place at the right time to leave footprints on some backs? What shadows haunt him from his childhood? The absence of his parents, growing up in poverty, being raised by nuns on Catholic charity- even though he’s told J.J. all of that made him who he currently is, surely some of it hardened a few secret places inside him.
Having risen to such great heights so quickly in his life, did he ever have to use someone to get what or to where he wanted? Jonathan is undoubtedly an intelligent and clever man; he’s focused, driven, and despite his genteel demeanor, has a reputation for being enterprising, street-wise, and saavy. How many pockets got turned inside out going up against him as he gambled and worked his way to the top? Was his Greek heiress girlfriend with whom he broke up right before meeting Jennifer, the one with the rich daddy who liked and helped him, a lovely, but opportune stepping stone along the way?
And in those first moments with the woman who would become his wife and partner in life, did he consider her just another potential tooth in his zipper before later realizing it was his soulmate that happened to have taken the seat next to him that afternoon at the Ritz? How much of the savage beast might fair Jennifer have unknowingly soothed?
Just some food for thought this writer has been marinating in her mind and wanted to share.
One thing I can say for sure about this interesting guy is, unlike GW, Jonathan certainly would not have invited some young buck to “tame” his pretty and headstrong daughter by spanking her into submission. That most assuredly would be one of those times that he would have confirmed for us that darker, less refined side to his otherwise affable nature.
But then, too, J.J. being so much like her father in spirit- not to mention feisty and headstrong like her mother- would probably handle something like that herself before it could ever happen, much to her adoring daddy’s pride and delight. There’s nothing hidden in that when it comes to Mr. Hart.