Is it Christmas already? It feels like Christmas. That is because we are full of good tidings, peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men. What could possibly make us feel this way? Why… It’s another Outposter contribution, that’s what! We love an Outposter contribution here at LMO. Why? Well firstly because it is a demonstration of the community we hope we are getting here where it is as much, if not more, about you guys than it is about our musings. Secondly, because it means we don’t have to flog Boba Phil to make him write faster anymore.
This contribution comes from Outposter OKpitboss. He has been with us since the very early days, pre-exodus from AICN, and the subsequent wandering in the digital desert for 40 days and 40 nights until we found our new home here at Last Movie Outpost. He’s got something to say about Big Jake. Have you got something to share with your fellow Outposters? Send it to us at email@example.com and we will do the rest.
In 1909, kidnappers raid the legendary McCandles ranch in southwest Texas/New Mexico. They capture the grandson of the ranch’s founder, Jacob ‘Big Jake’ McCandles (John Wayne), and hold him for $1 million ransom. Jake has been estranged from his family for many years but is now pressed into service to rescue his grandson. The kidnappers abscond to Mexico to evade the Texas Rangers. Jake is joined in his pursuit by his Native American friend Sam Sharp Nose and two of his sons, Michael and James.
Released in 1971, Big Jake was one of the Duke’s final Westerns. At this point in his career, he could play roles like this in his sleep. But that doesn’t detract from the film, in fact, it adds to it. This is John Wayne in his comfort zone, he knows what he’s doing, he’s going to take care of things and the people who crossed his family are going to die. When he sees his grandson for the first time, his eyes do all the acting.
His sons and grandson are played respectively by Wayne’s own son Patrick Wayne, Christopher Mitchum (Robert’s son), and Wayne’s grandson Ethan Wayne… nope no nepotism here, nothing to see… move on. Catherine O’Hara is Martha (why did you say that name!) McCandles and this would mark her final screen appearance with Wayne. Bruce Cabot (King Kong) plays Sam Sharp Nose and Richard Boone rounds out the cast as the big bad John Fain.
This movie for me is the cinematic equivalent of an ice-cold beer served in a chilled mug. It’s nothing special, you know what it’s going to taste like… and you’re going to love it.
Shot in Durango Mexico, Monument Valley Arizona, and Utah, Big Jake is a great-looking film. There’s also some nice matte work by the always impeccable Albert Whitlock. There are some nice action set pieces, and the film moves along at a nice clip. The movie doesn’t shy away from violence. When the raid on the ranch occurs, a small boy is shot in the back and this is shown. A young woman is macheted (implied) and others are shot in graphic fashion.
The interaction between Wayne and his estranged sons provides some levity and poignancy. Patrick Wayne is especially good as the spoiled James. He’s not the Sinbad we needed, but the one we deserved. Boone is great as John Fain. He’s not evil, just a man trying to make some money. If he has to kill to get it, so be it.
The opening credits are also great, featuring a voiceover juxtaposition between 1909 in New York and 1909 in the West and introducing the villains.
Wayne’s introduction in Big Jake is one of the best ever.
Big Jake is free to watch on Tubi and Peacock and available to rent on the usual suspects.
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