Film Review – BIG JAKE (1971)

Image result for big jake 1971Big Jake (1971; USA; Technicolor; 110m) ***  d. George Sherman; w. Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Richard Boone, Patrick Wayne, Christopher Mitchum, Bruce Cabot, Bobby Vinton, Glenn Corbett, John Doucette, Maureen O’Hara, Jim Davis, John Agar, Harry Carey Jr. In 1909, when John Fain’s gang kidnaps Jacob McCandles’ grandson and holds him for ransom, Big Jake sets out to rescue the boy. Latter-day Western has heightened violence, being based on a script by DIRTY HARRY screenplay writers the Finks, that sometimes jars with often lighter tone. Interesting twist in setting this tale in the early 1900s creates neat counter-balance of the old West and the new West. Wayne representing the old west is in good form with a support cast of familiar faces including Boone as chief villain. O’Hara is under-utilised however. Director Sherman’s final film. [15]

Film Review – CHISUM (1970)

Image result for chisum 1970Chisum (1970; USA; Technicolor; 111m) ***½  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Andrew J. Fenady; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Forrest Tucker, Christopher George, Ben Johnson, Glenn Corbett, Bruce Cabot, Andrew Prine, Patric Knowles, Richard Jaeckel, John Agar, Lynda Day George, Pamela McMyler, Lloyd Battista, Robert Donner, Geoffrey Deuel. Cattle baron John Chisum joins forces with Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett to fight the Lincoln County land war. One of the best of Wayne’s latter-day Westerns. It may not be historically accurate, but it makes for a rousing entertainment with a sharp script. McLaglen directs with style and a great sense of landscape. Johnson scores as Wayne’s mumbling sidekick. Wonderful score by Frontiere. Durango, Mexico. Fenady adapted his short story “Chisum and the Lincoln County Cattle War”. [PG]

Film Review – THE UNDEFEATED (1969)

Image result for the undefeated 1969Undefeated, The (1969; USA; DeLuxe; 119m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Lee Barrett, Stanley Hough; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Hugo Montenegro.  Cast: John Wayne, Rock Hudson, Bruce Cabot, Ben Johnson, John Agar, Antonio Aguilar, Lee Meriwether, Roman Gabriel, Merlin Olsen, Harry Carey Jr., Royal Dano, Marian McCargo, Melissa Newman, Jan-Michael Vincent, Edward Faulkner, Paul Fix. After the Civil War, ex-Union and ex-Confederate Colonels are leading two disparate groups of people through strife-torn Mexico.  Boisterous Western, typical of its director and the late career of Wayne. Hudson is the surprise package, turning in a dignified performance as the proud defeated Confederate Colonel. Some memorable set-pieces atone for the routine nature of the story and a disappointing finale. Nice use of locations in Sierra de Órganos National Park in Mexico. Based on the novel by Lewis B. Patten. [PG]

Film Review – HELLFIGHTERS (1968)

Image result for hellfighters 1968Hellfighters (1968; USA; Technicolor; 121m) ***½  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Leonard Rosenman.  Cast: John Wayne, Katharine Ross, Vera Miles, Jim Hutton, Bruce Cabot, Jay C. Flippen, Edward Faulkner, Barbara Stuart, Edmund Hashim. The story of macho oil well firefighters and their wives. Whilst it plays almost every cliché in the book – and set a few – this is still an entertaining, well-staged action-packed story. Likeable characters, witty and simplistic plot and episodic nature keeps us interested. Rosenman’s theme and score are memorable. Wayne’s character of Chance Buckman is based on real-life oil well firefighter ‘Red’ Adair. Adair, “Boots” Hansen, and “Coots” Matthews, all served as technical advisers on the film. [PG]

Film Review – THE GREEN BERETS (1968)

Image result for the green berets 1968Green Berets, The (1969; USA; Technicolor; 142m) **  d. Ray Kellogg, John Wayne; w. James Lee Barrett; ph. Winton C. Hoch; m. Miklós Rózsa.  Cast: John Wayne, David Janssen, Jim Hutton, Aldo Ray, Raymond St. Jacques, Bruce Cabot, Jack Soo, George Takai, Patrick Wayne, Luke Askew, Irene Tsu, Edward Faulkner, Jason Evers, Mike Henry, Vera Miles. A US army colonel picks two teams of crack Green Berets for a mission in South Vietnam. First off is to build and control a camp that is trying to be taken by the enemy the second mission is to kidnap a North Vietnamese General. Misguided attempt to justify US involvement in Vietnam War by serving it up with genre heroics seen in many flag-waving WWII movies. Wayne gives his usually competent square-jawed performance, but he is not well served by a long-winded and sloppy script plus uneven supporting performances. Based on the novel by Robin Moore. [12]

Film Review – THE WAR WAGON (1967)

Image result for the war wagon 1967War Wagon, The (1967; USA; Technicolor; 96m) ***  d. Burt Kennedy; w. Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Howard Keel, Robert Walker Jr., Keenan Wynn, Bruce Dern, Gene Evans, Bruce Cabot, Joanna Barnes, Sheb Wooley. A rancher returns from prison having survived being shot, to the ranch and gold that a businessman stole from him. He makes a deal with the man who shot him 5 years ago to join forces and steal a large gold shipment. Wayne and Douglas make a good team in this Western heist movie that promises more than it delivers. Keel also scores as a renegade Indian. Well shot action sequences and some witty dialogue help to mask some of the more fanciable elements of the script. Memorable Tiomkin score. Based on Huffaker’s novel “Badman”. [U]

Film Review – McLINTOCK! (1963)

McLintock! (1963; USA; Technicolor; 127m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. James Edward Grant; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Frank De Vol.  Cast: John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Yvonne De Carlo, Patrick Wayne, Stefanie Powers, Chill Wills, Jerry Van Dyke, Edgar Buchanan, Strother Martin, Aissa Wayne, Jack Kruschen, Bruce Cabot, Perry Lopez, Robert Lowery, Hank Worden. A cattle baron fights his wife, his daughter, and political land-grabbers, finally “taming” them all in this Western comedy with “Taming of the Shrew” overtones. High-spirited, if rather empty, Western-comedy is carried by the performances of its leads, with Wayne and O’Hara sparring off each other as they trade insults. The movie’s two big set-pieces – a slapstick fight in a mud pool and Wayne’s pursuit of O’Hara through the town in the climax are the most memorable sequences in this big, brawling and politically incorrect entertainment. [U]

Film Review – HATARI! (1962)

Image result for hatari! 1962Hatari! (1962; USA; Technicolor; 157m) ****  d. Howard Hawks; w. Leigh Brackett; ph. Russell Harlan; m. Henry Mancini.  Cast: John Wayne, Hardy Kruger, Elsa Martinelli, Gerard Blain, Red Buttons, Bruce Cabot, Eduard Franz, Michele Girardon, Queenie Leonard, Major Sam Harris. A group of men trap wild animals in Africa and sell them to zoos. Will the arrival of a female wildlife photographer change their ways? Vastly entertaining adventure has no plot and instead asks you to spend two-and-a-half hours in the company of likeable characters doing dangerous work in an exciting location. Hawks taps into his trademark themes of group camaraderie. Whilst the performances are mixed – some of the younger cast are a little wooden – there is much to enjoy in the central performances of Wayne, Martinelli and Buttons. Mancini contributes a catchy score – notably during the “Elephant Walk”. Based on a story by Harry Kurnitz. [U]

Film Review – THE COMANCHEROS (1961)

Image result for the comancheros 1961Comancheros, The (1961; USA; DeLuxe; 107m) ***  d. Michael Curtiz; w. James Edward Grant, Clair Huffaker; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Stuart Whitman, Lee Marvin, Bruce Cabot, Nehemiah Persoff, Ina Balin, Michael Ansara, Patrick Wayne, Jack Elam, Edgar Buchanan, Joan O’Brien, Henry Daniell, Richard Devon, Bob Steele, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams. Texas Ranger Jake Cutter arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner in an undercover effort to defeat a band of renegade arms merchants and thieves known as Comancheros. Interplay between Wayne and Whitman drives this otherwise routine story. Curtiz adds directorial style and the action scenes are well shot, but other aspects of the story never really get off the ground. Rousing score by Bernstein. The final film directed by Curtiz. On the days when Curtiz was too ill to work, Wayne took over direction of the film. Based on the novel by Paul Wellman. [PG]

Film Review – ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947)

Image result for angel and the badman 1947Angel and the Badman (1947; USA; B&W; 100m) ***  d. James Edward Grant; w. James Edward Grant; ph. Archie Stout; m. Richard Hageman.  Cast: John Wayne, Gail Russell, Harry Carey, Bruce Cabot, Irene Rich, Lee Dixon, Stephen Grant, Tom Powers, Paul Hurst, Olin Howland. An outlaw is nursed back to health and sought after by a quaker girl. Entertaining morality tale delivers a tight, well-scripted, if fairly simplistic, story. Wayne is a confident lead and Russell is appealing as the girl who becomes his saviour. Carey, as a Marshal out to get Wayne, is wonderfully droll. Some may balk at the sermonising, but the approach is actually well-balanced. Partly shot in Monument Valley. First film produced by Wayne. Inspiration for WITNESS (1985). Remade for TV in 2009. [U]