In 1909, when John Fain's gang kidnaps Big Jake McCandles' grandson and hold him for ransom, Big Jake sets out to rescue the boy.


, (uncredited)


(story and screenplay), (story and screenplay) (as R.M. Fink)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Martha McCandles
Michael McCandles (as Chris Mitchum)
Jeff McCandles
Buck Dugan
Jim Burk ...
Robert Warner ...
Will Fain


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They wanted gold. They gave them lead instead! See more »


Action | Crime | Drama | Western


GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

26 May 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Million Dollar Kidnapping  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,800,000 (estimated)


$7,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(photographs in opening credits)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Wayne's brother Robert E. Morrison had died of lung cancer shortly before production began. See more »


The motorcycle that is supposed to be an Indian Scout is a mid to late 1960s Montesa, possibly an Impala 175 Cross or a Cappra 250 that is modified with bicycle style handlebars and a box tank to look similar. The 1909 Indian Scout had a bicycle style frame with no suspension and narrow bicycle style tires, unlike the motorcycle in the film with telescopic forks hidden behind the rifle scabbards. The Indian Scout would have had either a single cylinder leaning to the rear or a V-twin arrangement, unlike the inline two cylinder leaning toward the front on the movie motorcycle. A kick starter is visible, which was not available, as it started by using the bicycle pedals on the Indian which are not present on the movie Montesa. Due to no suspension, jumps as were made would have resulted in crashes with a 1909 Indian. See more »


John Fain: We rode down, thought you might be hirin'.
Bert Ryan: We was.
John Fain: Was?
[looks around]
John Fain: You know, this place sure speaks of a lot of money. You know what the problem with money is? Somebody's always trying to take it from you. Still, that's the only problem.
[Pulls gun and shoots Bert]
See more »


Remade as Jacob (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

"No matter what else happens, no matter who gets killed I'm gonna blow your head off."

There has been no tougher or more formidable Western heavy than Richard Boone… He has occasionally depicted hard-bitten nobility, as his portrayal of General Sam Houston in "The Alamo" or the ageing cavalry officer in "A Thunder of Drums"—but more often his grim, craggy features have led him to villainy…

He was Randolph Scott's intelligent, embittered adversary, smooth as a rattlesnake and twice as treacherous, in the Tall T; he wrapped non-conforming farmers in barbed wire in Man Without a Star; as mean, sadistic Major Salinas, he persecuted Rory Calhoun in Way of a Gaucho; and he gave Paul Newman a rough ride in Hombre. In "Big Jake," he was—as always—a powerful presence and one of the screen's most efficient scene-stealer…

George Sherman's "Big Jake" was the Duke fifth and final film played opposite the lovely redheaded Maureen O'Hara who plays, here, his wife Martha McCandles…

The movie opens in 1909 where nine men crossing the Rio Bravo into Texas… Their leader—a sadistic gunrunner—John Fain (Richard Boone) is ready for his bloody McCandles' raid where ten people were slaughtered and Big Jakes's grandson, the 8-year-old Little Jacob (Ethan Wayne) is kidnapped, and a ransom note is left demanding one million dollars in $20 Bills for Jacob's safe return…

Martha—quite sure that this job requires an extremely harsh and special kind of man to attend it— called back her husband, absent for many years, to pay the ransom, and take back home the little boy alive…

Jacob McCandles (Wayne)—who has never seen his grandson—responds to his wife's call and organizes a hunting party to track down the dangerous and violent men…

With his two sons, his faithful Indian scout (Bruce Cabot), his loyal dog, and with a large red strongbox packed to the back of a good mule, McCandles initiates his very daring hunt…

There are some hard feelings among Wayne's resentful boys, and as the film progresses, Wayne's blue eyes were gentle and revealing a wonderful caring father but also his eyes turn to blue steel as he took that decision to get alive his grandson… The heart of the film is Wayne interacting with his wife and what he has in store for his sons next...

Patrick Wayne plays Wayne's older son who is short on ears and long on mouth… Christopher Mitchum rides a 'crazy bicycle,' carries a Bergman 1911, and a rifle with one fancy new telescope...

With great action scenes, great photography and with a terrific Elmer Bernstein musical score, "Big Jake" is one of Wayne best Westerns…

40 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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