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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 5.88%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 11 user ratings

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Big Jake
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by Randy Muselman

"An old western shoot-em up you're sure to like."
3 stars

With 178 films to his credit, John Wayne became an American icon. Best known for the Westerns he brought us, he is seen as the ultimate hard-riding cowboy of the Old West. While "Big Jake" may seem just another shoot-'em-up, it's still fun to watch.

The Old West is about over, things are on the verge of modernization, and that's not an easy thing for a cowboy to adjust to, especially one like Jacob McCandles (John Wayne). He's of the old school, rough and tumble.

After years of being absent from his home, he's called back by his estranged wife Martha McCandles (Maureen O'Hara) to get back their grandson, who's been kidnapped by the evil John Fain (Richard Boone). Jacob McCandles is helped along by his three sons (one of whom is played by Patrick, Wayne's real-life son). There are some hard feelings among the boys with him, and along the way, especially in the beginning, there are some tense moments.

It all comes down to a large cash box strapped to the back of a mule. The ransom will be paid and the cash has to be guarded along the way. There's quite a surprise toward the ending, just before the finale. All hell really breaks loose when the three sons discover that indeed there is no cash at all; it's been a cover-up to get the gang to think the ransom is to be paid. They are really going out to get the grandson back, and McCandles wants the bad guys to pay for it, and pay they will indeed.

I don't think there are going to be any spoilers here. This film was delivered to us in 1971 and if you haven't seen it, well, you've missed out on some fun.

There is more violence in this film than I'm used to seeing in a John Wayne film. The gun battles are quite intense compared to the regular Western. To temper this continuing onslaught of flying lead, we see a lot of humor strewn throughout the entire film.

Towards the beginning of the film, when Jacob McCandles is arriving, he's greeted by his wife Martha and his three sons. James McCandles (Patrick Wayne) greets his father (John Wayne) with little or no respect, showing his disgust with "Daddy." Old Jacob will have none of that and decides to teach his son some respect. A fight ensues between Jacob and James, and at one point, when the fight is pretty much over, Jacob (Wayne) looks at his son and says "You can call Dad, you can call me Father, you can call me Jacob and you can call me Jake. You can call me a dirty old son-of-a-bitch, but if you EVER call me Daddy again, I'll finish this fight." It's the moments like this that make the movie truly fun and they are scattered throughout the entire film.

If you don't have this film in your collection, I highly recommend it. While it's not award-winning material, it certainly is fun. It's different than what you are used to seeing John Wayne bring us on the silver screen. Dare I say it? This film has more "Grit" than the usual film he's done in the past.

This film is now available on DVD and it's been re-masterd to give you the best. It's delivered to you in anamorphic widescreen, so you will see it as it was presented in theaters and the Dolby Digital sound will make you wonder where that bullet came from.

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originally posted: 12/15/03 05:45:43
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User Comments

7/14/14 Philippe R. WELTE My all time favorite Duke's movie and my all time favorite movie as well. Awesome ! 5 stars
3/16/10 harry lime Very entertaining late western by the Duke 5 stars
10/11/09 Britt T Kelch Not his best but an excellant way to spend 2 hours 5 stars
9/27/09 chidka fergie one of the duke's best 70's efforts 5 stars
7/30/08 Derald Hamilton Wayne was funnier in this movie than he was in True Grit 5 stars
11/13/04 Laura Porter good 5 stars
9/04/04 Aaron Smith Best Wayne film ever. 5 stars
7/23/04 booklover One of my favorite John Wayne movies! 4 stars
4/23/04 Robert Adams It's a great western and one of my favorite films 5 stars
1/24/03 Charles Tatum Violent, but average Duke effort 3 stars
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  26-May-1971 (PG-13)
  DVD: 29-Apr-2003

  08-Jul-1971 (15)

  26-May-1971 (M)

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