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Big Jim McLain (1952)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, History | 30 August 1952 (USA)
In the post-war Hawaii, House Un-American Activities Committee investigators Jim McLain and Mal Baxter hunt down Communists.


Edward Ludwig


Stephen Vincent Benet (quotes from "The Devil And Dan'l Webster"), James Edward Grant | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Jim McLain
Nancy Olson ... Nancy Vallon
James Arness ... Mal Baxter
Alan Napier ... Sturak
Veda Ann Borg ... Madge
Hans Conried ... Robert Henried
Hal Baylor ... Poke
Gayne Whitman ... Dr. Gelster
Gordon Jones ... Olaf
Robert Keys Robert Keys ... Edwin White
John Hubbard ... Lt. Cmdr. Clint Grey
Soo Yong ... Mrs. Namaka (as Madame Soo Yong)
Dan Liu Dan Liu ... Dan Liu - Honolulu Chief of Police (as Honolulu Chief Of Police Dan Liu)
Paul Hurst ... Mr. Lexiter
Vernon 'Red' McQueen Vernon 'Red' McQueen ... Phil Briggs (as Red McQueen)


U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee investigators Jim McLain and Mal Baxter attempt to break up a ring of Communist Party troublemakers in Hawaii (ignoring somewhat, as do their superiors in the Congress, that membership in the Communist Party was, at the time, legal in the U.S.) Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


According to Scott Eyman, in his John Wayne biography, in Italy the title of this movie was changed to "Marijuana", and the dialogue soundtrack modified to indicate that McLain (John Wayne) was an agent searching for drug smugglers. See more »


When Jim returns one morning from looking for Baxter's murderer, he finds Nancy asleep. The amount of the rug covering Nancy changes between when he kisses her and when she wakes. See more »


Poke: I've had a belly full of this East Texas cotton-chopping jerk.
Jim McLain: Did you ever chop cotton?
Poke: Nah, I'm from the country club set. That chopping cotton's for white trash and niggers!
[McLain punches Poke and a fight ensues]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing credits epilogue: The Incidents in this motion picture are based on the files of the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Congress of the United States. Names and places have been changed. We gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of this Committee. See more »

Alternate Versions

The version released in Italy and some other European countries is retitled Marijuana and has John Wayne chasing drug smugglers instead of communists. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: The Conqueror (2014) See more »


Isle of Kuualoha
Music by Robert Wiley Miller
Lyrics by Roc Hillman
Performed by Tani Marsh
See more »

User Reviews

Giving aid and comfort to the Communists
20 January 2006 | by inspectors71See all my reviews

Seen through the eyes and legitimate fears of early-50's Americans, one can understand why this movie hit a topical chord. The Red Menace was real and apologists for Communists can't make it unreal, no matter how many George Clooney movies get made.

With that said, what was John Wayne thinking when he made this idiotic, cartoonish garbage? This is the sort of movie that, when made as pro-American propaganda, is so embarrassing that it drives people over to the other side and gives aid and comfort to this nation's enemies. All the people who are still alive and were involved in the production of the ludicrous anti-Commie Pinko, anti-intellect (not anti-intellectual), Reefer Madness-level trash should have to write an explanation for why they didn't read the script and just say no!

Regardless of your politics, you've got to get a copy of Big Jim McLain and watch for its comedy value. I saw it thirty years ago on the afternoon movie on KXLY-TV in Spokane, and I still can't get the image of the young black Marine happily trucking up the gangplank of a troopship to head off to Korea.

Wow, what fun!

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Release Date:

30 August 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Big Jim McLain See more »


Box Office


$826,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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