"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, August 17, 2020

Movie Review: Big Jake (1971)

Hello, to all of you!

It is another day where I review a movie because it would've been an actor's birthday. A 100th birthday, too! I'd never seen this film before, but I gave it a shot today. Enjoy!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free!

Big Jake (1971):
"The turbulent years between the civil war and the turn of the century brought out the best in some people, but in others it brought out the worst."
When a little boy is kidnapped and held for ransom, his grandmother tracks down her former husband to find him. Joined by his sons who haven't seen him in years they start following with the required sum. These criminals are dangerous and a million dollars is a lot of money, what are they willing to do to get it?
Genre: Western.
Length: approx. 110 minutes.
Costumes: 8, all decent and relevant to the times.
Script: 7, a few names callings and bad words sprinkled throughout.
Crew: Directed by: George Sherman. Written by: Harry Julian Fink & R. M. Fink.
John Wayne as Jacob McCandles.
Richard Boone as John Fain.
Maureen O'Hara as Martha McCandles.
Christopher Mitchum as Michael McCandles.
Patrick Wayne as James McCandles.
Ethan Wayne as Little Jake McCandles
Bruce Cabot as Sam Sharpnose.
Bobby Vinton as Jeff McCandles.
Glenn Corbett as O'Brien, aka Breed.
John Doucette as Texas Ranger Capt. Buck Duggan
John Agar as Bert Ryan.
Harry Cary Jr. as Pop Dawson.
Gregg Palmer as John Goodfellow.
Jim Burk as Trooper.
Dean Smith as James William "Kid" Duffy.
Robert Warner as Will Fain.
Jeff Wingfield as Billy Devries.
Everett Creach as Walt Devries.
Roy Jenson as Gunman.
William Walker as Moses Brown.
George Fenneman as Narrator.
Cinematography: 8, the fight scenes with the darkness and light were really impressive. It was hard to see and it kept you guessing about who was lurking in the shadows.
Cinematography by: William H. Clothier.
Music: 8, it seemed like standard western music to me until the end, then I really liked the way they used it.
Music by: Elmer Bernstein.
Quotability: N/A because I just watched it. This line surprised me by how out of the blue it was:
"They say the elk in Montana are as big as buffalo this year..."
Content: 6, there is a lot of shooting with killing and blood (which is really red, so it looked kind of fake, but it was still a lot). There is a brief mention of a prostitute, but that's all of that. The biggest thing is the violence. Animals are hurt as well as people.
"There are two reasons to kill: survival and meat."
Originality: 9, I don't know what it is, but something about this seemed super original to me. I've seen stories involving ransoms and kidnappings before (even a John Wayne one), but the different elements in this one were unique.
I loved this dog.
Good For: Western fans (for sure!), John Wayne fans.
Age Range: I believe that this is PG-13 for the violence, and I'd agree with that. As I always say though, it depends on each individual.
Overall Score: 8!
Worth watching?: Yeah, it was! Now, this may shock some people, but I'm not a John Wayne fan. I've seen quite a few movies with him, but there aren't many that I like. This one though, this was good. Plus, I saw him wearing glasses for the first time (for a short period of time)!
Will I watch again?: Sure thing! I'll go more into the details why in a minute, but this may be one of my new favorite Westerns!
Bonus thoughts:
Can I say that I'm impressed? 'Cause I am! The opening was a curious (but good) way to start. There were epic parts (with some wild motorcycle skills), as well as bits that played with my heart strings. Michael was my favorite character. I love how caring he is as well as careful, but also takes some big risks. He's always so nice to his dad and kind of moderates James. He was awesome.
Who else was awesome? And it would be her birthday?

Maureen O'Hara!
While she doesn't have much screen time, she is an important character who calls most of the shots (sorry, pun not intended with this Western). Her presence seemed so regal to me in this one.

My sisters and I watched The Parent Trap (1964) a few days ago and I was thinking about reviewing it for today, but I decided on this film so it could be my first entry in Legends of Western Cinema Week 2020! You know, kill two birds with one stone?
As I said earlier, I'm glad I did because this is a new favorite Western! I don't get the chance to watch many, and usually my dad and I just make fun of how bad shots the "villains" are, but this was a solid enjoyable film for me. Now I'm in the mood for more! Are you, too? Check out HERE or HERE for a ton of more recommendations all week long.

Your turn to talk! Have any of you seen this? Favorite Western? Favorite Maureen O'Hara movie? Anything else? Thanks for reading!

Happy 100th, Maureen O'Hara!



  1. I can't say I've ever considered Big Jake a favourite among Wayne pictures, but while reading your review I realized that all of my memories of it are fond ones, so I may have to rethink my assessment.

    1. Hey, maybe it's time for a rewatch! I have a lot of films where I always have felt neutral about them, but when I've seen them lately I realized that I enjoy it!

  2. Oh, I don't think I've seen this one. It looks good, and I like Westerns, so I should probably check it out.

    1. I didn't know you liked Westerns, McKayla! I'm not used to other people liking them because my sisters don't. Now I'll have to recommend some to you!

  3. This is one of my Dad's Wayne favorites (The Quiet Man is and always will be the favorite.) BUT THE DOG! SAM! Big Jake dealing with his sons.

    My family quotes it all the time, LOL. But just the line, "Always keep your butt down. There's always someone on the other side who will shoot you there instead of the head every time."

    1. Both my mom and dad's favorite is The Quiet Man, too! I could never get into it, though. But, I had a lot of fun with this movie! Jake dealing with his sons was the best! XD

      I was totally unprepared for that line and it made me laugh so hard! LOl. XD I can see myself using it in the future a lot!

  4. I'm so glad you could review this one! It's definitely going on my watch list. Have you seen She Wore a Yellow Ribbon? Your mention of John Wayne wearing spectacles made me think of it (I really really think he does in SWYR as well in one scene) and it's one that always strikes me as different among his as well. I think you might like it. (And it's one of my top favorites. ;))

    1. It as kind of a last minute choice on my part, but I'm glad it worked! Thanks for hosting, I had so much fun!

      Eeep! I'm so, so, so excited to watch She Wore a Yellow Ribbon! Thank you a ton for the suggestion and opportunity! :) I'll be sure to let you know what I think when I do.

  5. This is my favorite Western of all time, and my favorite John Wayne movie. Absolutely love everything about it. James is my favorite character, but I love Michael too.

    1. I can't believe that I hadn't heard of it before I saw it! I think it will be one of my favorites of his, maybe just after The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and True Grit!

  6. I have no idea what I think of this movie, although I know I enjoyed your review, haha! I do like the older (? I think he was older. the one with the mustache) son for some reason. But...I noticed the violence more than I usually do. And I feel like there wasn't enough humor or getting to know the characters. The plot is quite good, though. And "I thought you were dead!" "Not hardly." is such an iconic line...

    1. Hey, thanks! I have that where I'm confused about my feelings towards a book or movie but I like reading other people's thoughts. ;) While Michael was my favorite, I can see after multiple watches liking James, too! I noticed that, as well! I had just been part of watching a lot of clean movies and my first thought with this was, "Wow, a lot of blood!". And totally, I want to know so much more about all of the characters! That line was a hoot. XD

  7. I'd never really "heard" of this until it started popping up in this party, and I loved your review! It does sound quite original. I especially enjoyed your description of Michael, he sounds like exactly the sort of character I most like. :)

    1. Aw, thank you so much! That means a lot to me! I would recommend this just for watching Michael because he is so good and sweet! Ah, I want to rewatch now. :)

  8. This is not one of my favorite westerns, but over the years, I've gone from not liking it much at all to liking it rather well, so that's kind of cool. Somewhat randomly, I just ordered the soundtrack for it this past week, as I do love Elmer Bernstein -- he's my favorite film composer, and his western scores generally please me.

    Anyway, glad this is a new favorite for you! I do love any time John Wayne gets to act with his sons, and he gets to act with TWO of them in this one, which is a bonus!

    1. I like it when movies grow on me. :) I want to thank you, before picking this movie I read about it on your 10 Favorite Maureen O'Hara Movies post to check if it had enough of her! It was very helpful. :-) Oh, Elmer Bernstein's scores are so good! His for The Magnificent Seven is fully awesome.

      Yeah! It's so sweet when he did that and it made me really happy here! <3 Thanks for hosting this!

  9. I haven't seen this one, sounds cool! I haven't seen a lot of John Wayne movies.


    1. I'm very picky when it comes to his movies, but when I find one I like it becomes a favorite. :) You should try some and let me know your thoughts!


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