Monday, May 19, 2014

Flick Pick: Big Jake

Big Jake
(Cinema Center/CBS Films, 1971)

One of my personal favorites of Wayne's westerns, from a screenplay written by the same authors of the original Dirty Harry movie script. Having received a long-overdue Best Actor Oscar for True Grit in 1969, this movie role fits Wayne's persona at this stage of his career like a glove. Much of the film was directed by Wayne (without credit, as a favor) owing to the ailing health of the primary director, Wayne's long-time friend George Sherman, who'd directed Wayne as far back as the 1930s in westerns for Republic Pictures. The film marks the fifth and final time Maureen O'Hara played opposite Wayne, giving every bit as good as she ever did when the two were paired. It was produced by Wayne's son Michael through Batjac Prods., and starred Wayne's son Patrick as his older son in the film, Christopher Mitchum playing his younger son (which close association proved the final blacklisting nail in Mitchum's stalled further career among Hollywood liberals), and Wayne's 9-year-old son Ethan Wayne playing Little Jake, his character's grandson in the movie. Wayne movie regular characters Bruce Cabot, John Doucette, John Agar, Jim Davis, Harry Carey, Jr., and Hank Worden all get time in this one, along with bad guys in this outing like Glenn Corbett and Richard Boone, the latter playing a true hiss-worthy arch-villain to match Wayne's hero.

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