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The McCandles ranch is run over by a gang of cutthroats led by the evil John Fain. They kidnap little Jacob McCandles and hold him for a million dollar ransom. There is only one man who is brave enough and smart enough to bring him back and that man is Big Jake. Written by
Christopher D. Ryan <email@example.com>
Early in the movie, Michael McCandles (Chris Mitchum) shows up sporting a revolutionary for the time period, Bergman automatic pistol, but proves to be dangerously inept in its handling. Thereafter, the weapon is carried by the more handgun adept James McCandles (Patrick Wayne). Bergman was indeed one of the earliest commercial manufacturers of automatic pistols but they were produced in relatively small numbers so surviving copies are rare and quite valuable. Consequentially, the weapon shown in the movie is actually a circa 1940s Walther P-38 modified by prop-masters to resemble the much earlier Bergman pistol. This same prop weapon is seen again in the 1973 film, Black Caesar. See more »
The guy that helps Hank bring in the trunk at the train station is later seen dancing in the saloon at Escondero, wearing the same clothes. See more »
Mark this down as a very entertaining western with more realistic gunfight scenes than most films, meaning the good guys get shot as well as the villains. John Wayne's "The Searchers," a very similar movie story-wise, gets a lot better press than this film but "Big Jake" is just as good, if not better.
To be fair, while the gunfights in here were well done, the fistfights were an insult. Whenever someone got slugged, such as Wayne belting his kids, it had no effect on them, except just to knock them down for a second or two. In real life, folks, chances are you will knocked unconscious if you are hit in the face, especially by a powerful man like Wayne. This has been a ludicrous fact-of-life, however, in all films for 100 years, not just here.
Other than that, the film is a straight hard-nosed one with Wayne and adversary Richard Boone both fascinating. The dialog between the two was especially fun to hear. Too bad there wasn't more of it. Boone did not have enough lines in this film. Wayne's real-life sons in this film didn't impress me with their acting but they weren't horrible either.
Bruce Cabot was a hoot as an old Indian friend of Wayne's. As with most westerns, there is some nice scenery so if you have the opportunity, watch this on widescreen DVD. It was nice-looking movie.
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