Film Review – THE SHOOTIST (1976)

Image result for the shootist 1976Shootist, The (1976; USA; Technicolor; 100m) ****½  d. Don Siegel; w. Miles Hood Swarthout, Scott Hale; ph. Bruce Surtees; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, Ron Howard, Richard Boone, Hugh O’Brian, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Scatman Crothers, Bill McKinney, Rick Lenz, Sheree North, Gregg Palmer, Alfred Dennis, Dick Winslow. A dying gunfighter spends his last days looking for a way to die with a minimum of pain and a maximum of dignity. Wayne’s last film is a poignant and fitting tribute to his screen persona and one of his very best. Siegel directs with sensitivity and draws an astonishing final performance from his star. Wayne is supported by a superbly talented cast of veterans including Bacall and Stewart. Echoes of SHANE can be seen in Howard’s hero-worshipping youth. The 1901 setting, with its early automobiles, telephones and electricity, acts as a metaphor for the passing of an era where the west was ruled by the gun and Wayne’s gunfighter character is now an anachronism. Based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout. [PG]

Film Review – ROOSTER COGBURN (1975)

Image result for rooster cogburn 1975Rooster Cogburn (1975; USA; Technicolor; 108m) ***½  d. Stuart Millar; w. Martha Hyer (as Martin Julien); ph. Harry Stradling Jr.; m. Laurence Rosenthal.  Cast: John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn, Richard Jordan, Anthony Zerbe, Strother Martin, John McIntire, Paul Koslo, Jack Colvin, Warren Vanders, Lane Smith. Marshal Rooster Cogburn unwillingly teams up with Eula Goodnight to track down the killers of her father. Sequel to 1969’s TRUE GRIT coasts on the wonderful chemistry and performances of Wayne and Hepburn. The story itself is slim and formulaic, but the banter between the stars is more than enough to make this a rousing entertainment. Followed in 1978 by a TV adaptation of the character, with Warren Oates in the lead under the title of the original. [PG]

Film Review – BRANNIGAN (1975)

Image result for brannigan 1975Brannigan (1975; UK; Colour; 111m) ***  d. Douglas Hickox; w. Christopher Trumbo, Michael Butler, William P. McGivern, William W. Norton; ph. Gerry Fisher; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, Mel Ferrer, Ralph Meeker, John Vernon, Lesley-Anne Down, Barry Dennen, Brian Glover, James Booth, Daniel Pilon, John Stride, Arthur Batanides, Pauline Delaney, Del Henney. An American detective is sent to London to bring back an American mobster who is being held for extradition. Nice twist on the fish-out-of-water formula with Wayne coasting on his charisma. Attenborough also adds a sprightly performance to this otherwise routine crime action thriller. Hickox directs with some flair although his shooting in London often resembles a tourist film capturing as many iconic shots as possible. [15]

Film Review – McQ (1974)

Related imageMcQ (1974; USA; Technicolor; 111m) ***  d. John Sturges; w. Lawrence Roman; ph. Harry Stradling Jr.; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Eddie Albert, Diana Muldaur, Colleen Dewhurst, Julie Adams, Clu Gulager, David Huddleston, Al Lettieri, Jim Watkins, Roger E. Mosley. A Police Lieutenant investigates the killing of his best friend and uncovers corrupt elements. Wayne tries his hand at the urban crime thriller genre in this DIRTY HARRY surrogate. Sturges’ direction is lacking in flair and a feel for the genre whilst the script is a little flabby. The result is a routine plot enlivened by a neat finale and Wayne’s presence. Jazzy Bernstein score is also a plus. Good use of Seattle locations. [15]

Film Review – CAHILL: UNITED STATES MARSHAL (1973)

Related imageCahill: United States Marshal (1973; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ***  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Harry Julian Fink, Rita M. Fink; ph. Joseph F. Biroc; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Gary Grimes, George Kennedy, Neville Brand, Marie Windsor, Denver Pyle, Jackie Coogan, Harry Carey Jr., Pepper Martin, Paul Fix, Clay O’Brien, Morgan Paull, Royal Dano, Dan Vadis, Hank Worden. J.D. Cahill is the toughest U.S. Marshal they’ve got, just the sound of his name makes bad guys stop in their tracks, so when his two young boys want to get his attention, they decide to rob a bank. Late Wayne Western is middling story that has overly-preachy elements to it. Wayne is in good form though, despite his lack of screen time, delivering a typically tough performance. Kennedy is as reliable as ever as chief heavy and Bernstein’s score attempts to lift the tale out from its routine origins. Script, like BIG JAKE, is by DIRTY HARRY scribes the Finks but lacks dramatic punch. Based on a story by Barney Slater. [12]

Film Review – THE TRAIN ROBBERS (1973)

Image result for the train robbers 1973Train Robbers, The (1973; USA; Technicolor; 92m) **½  d. Burt Kennedy; w. Burt Kennedy; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Dominic Frontiere.  Cast: John Wayne, Ann-Margret, Rod Taylor, Ben Johnson, Christopher George, Bobby Vinton, Jerry Gatlin, Ricardo Montalban. A gunhand is hired by a widow to find gold stolen by her husband so that she may return it and start fresh. Late Wayne Western has a slight story that is stretched out over its running time. Disappointment from writer-director Kennedy has endless shots of the cast riding across the desert and through rivers punctuated by occasional action. Luckily, we have Wayne on board with a solid veteran cast, even if the cast is given little to work with. Beautifully photographed on location in Durango, Mexico. [U]

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 – RIO LOBO (1970)

Image result for rio lobo 1970Rio Lobo (1970; USA; Technicolor; 114m) ***  d. Howard Hawks; w. Burton Wohl, Leigh Brackett; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: John Wayne, Jack Elam, Jennifer O’Neill, Jorge Rivero, Christopher Mitchum, Victor French, Sherry Lansing, Susana Dosamantes, Mike Henry, David Huddleston, Bill Williams, Edward Faulkner. After the Civil War, Wayne searches for the traitor whose perfidy caused the defeat of his unit and the loss of a close friend. Hawks and Wayne team up for a final time in this entertaining, if derivative and slightly tired Western. Wayne and Elam, as a trigger-happy old rancher, stand out against a young and inexperienced cast delivering inconsistent performances. The finale replays that of RIO BRAVO (1959), which the team had previously riffed in EL DORADO (1966). Partly shot in Old Tuscon. Hawks’ final film. [PG]

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]