John Wayne is the star of Big Jake, so we don't have to tell you who plays the title role. When his grandson (played by real-life son Ethan Wayne) is kidnapped by scurrilous baddie Richard Boone, Big Jake sets out to deliver the $1 million ransom. On the off-chance that there'll be gunplay, Jake brings along his sons Patrick Wayne and Chris Mitchum (the son of Bob). In one of her most passive screen roles, Maureen O'Hara plays Jake's estranged wife. Bruce Cabot provides unexpected comedy relief as a scraggly Indian Scout. Wayne fans will not be disappointed by the film's explosive denouement. The only real drawback to Big Jake is the presence of singer Bobby Vinton in a dramatic role.
Because of his screen presence, I love, pretty much every movie that John Wayne is in. This movie, released in 1971 is one of my favorites. With Richard Boone as the bad guy and Maureen O'Hara in an all-too brief role as the duke's ex-wife they bring great chemistry to their screen time with John Wayne. In brief: a grandson that John Wayne didn't even know he had has been kidnapped. Maureen O'Hara sends a call out to John Wayne who ends up being paired up with his two estranged sons to go rescue the boy. The movie is set around 1907 or so. There's the new technology of the automobile introduced along with new firearms technology that's compared with John Wayne's "old ways" (which turn out to be still, quite effective).
It's a really fun movie!
Wayne and O'Hara pair up in many of the classic pieces, but this one may be their best effort together. Wayne plays the wiley and grizzled Jacob McCandles, estranged husband to Maureen's character, who oversees the McCandles ranch in Texas. A gang of banditos crosses the border from Mexico, staging the "infamous McCandles Raid" as the announcer terms it. Their grandson, played by Wayne's son Ethan, is kidnapped and held for ransom. He decides, along with his ex-wife, that he should be the one who makes the trip. Along the way Jacob and his two sons, James (James Wayne) and Michael (Chris Mitchum) struggle to understand their father, as he tries to keep both of them out of the cemetery. It is also during this trip, he finds out that kidnapped boy is named Jacob (called Little Jake) in his honor. The final, climactic battle between the McCandles and the Banditos includes the expected Wayne wit and guile that trademarks most of his pictures. Boone plays a great lead villain.
It is about time this film got a good remaster. The original prints were a little grainy, but to see this picture up close and personal really makes you feel like you are in that turn of the century Texas/Mexico border area, where banditos still ran free and vigilantes still had their place. Given that it doesn't rely on stop-motion effects, the film holds up rather well in it's improved state and could provide a surprise for someone who has not seen it before, with the plot, gun fights and even more jokes, gags and funny comments than you can shake a can of Yonkers Peaches at!