Thursday, Oct 2020
Director: George Sherman
Screenwriters: Harry and Julian Fink
Length: 110 minutes
Released: 1971

big  jakeBig Jake is a family reunion / chase movie with many of the same story elements as John Ford's Rio Grande. The action provides a backdrop for a larger, family saga. In both movies, John Wayne's character is separated from Maureen O'Hara's character (his wife) and the children begrudge him. Through harrowing experiences the family arrives at a place of understanding and mutual respect.

Big Jake is set after the end of the old west (1909). In Texas, some frontier remnants endure and bandits set upon the McCandles ranch. The McCandles are a wealthy and powerful family run by Martha McCandles (Maureen O'Hara). Jacob McCandles is absent at the homestead until the family is attacked by the bandits. Little Jacob McCandles (Jacob's grandson and the Duke's real life grandson) is kidnapped and Big Jake is called to service by his estranged wife. She knows that he is the only man tough enough to get recover the lad.

John Wayne must have been exhuasted after making this movie as he carries the flick for nearly two hours. Excepting John Fain (Richard Boone), the cast is rigid. Bruce Cabot is the old Indian tracker Sam Sharpnose. He and Jacob McCandles (John Wayne) are old pals. Both have grown old and when McCandles calls on Sharpnose to join him in hunting down kidnappers, Sharpnose reveals that he lost his gun (perhaps he traded it for his outstanding dentures). Anyway, the chase begins and old timers Jacob McCandles and Sharpnose are enjoined by the McCandles children who are not wise to the old ways of the west. Rather than relying on horses, the youngsters jump in automobiles to chase the kidnappers. This is, of course, doomed to failure and before long all are on horses. The old west and the agrarian way again triumph over industrialization.

The movie was filmed in Durango Mexico but features a couple of shots of what appears to be Monument Valley. Overall, Big Jake has a made-for-tv feel, but that is not to say that it is bad. It is a good viewer.

Cast:

  • John Wayne.... Jacob McCandles
  • Richard Boone.... John Fain/li>
  • Patrick Wayne.... James McCandles/li>
  • Christopher Mitchum.... Michael McCandles/li>
  • Bruce Cabot.... Sam Sharpnose/li>
  • Bobby Vinton.... Jeff McCandles/li>
  • Glenn Corbett.... O'Brien/li>
  • John Doucette.... Buck Duggan/li>
  • Jim Davis.... leader of lynching party/li>
  • John Agar.... Bert Ryan/li>
  • Harry Carey Jr..... Pop Dawson/li>
  • Gregg Palmer....John Goodfellow/li>
  • Roy Jenson.... Outlaw at Bath House/li>
  • Virginia Capers....Delilah/li>
  • William Walker .... Moses Brown/li>
  • Maureen O'Hara .... Martha McCandles/li>
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