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Big Jake (1971)

GP | | Western | 26 May 1971 (USA)
In 1909, when John Fain's gang kidnaps Jacob McCandles' grandson and holds him for ransom, Big Jake sets out to rescue the boy.


George Sherman, John Wayne (uncredited)


Harry Julian Fink (story and screenplay), Rita M. Fink (story and screenplay) (as R.M. Fink)
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Jacob McCandles
Richard Boone ... John Fain
Maureen O'Hara ... Martha McCandles
Patrick Wayne ... James McCandles
Christopher Mitchum ... Michael McCandles (as Chris Mitchum)
Bobby Vinton ... Jeff McCandles
Bruce Cabot ... Sam Sharpnose
Glenn Corbett ... O'Brien
Harry Carey Jr. ... Pop Dawson
John Doucette ... Buck Dugan
Jim Davis ... Head of Lynching Party
John Agar ... Bert Ryan
Gregg Palmer ... John Goodfellow
Jim Burk Jim Burk ... Trooper
Robert Warner Robert Warner ... Will Fain


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 one million dollars ransom. There is only one man brave enough, tough enough, and smart enough to bring him back alive, and that man is Big Jake. Written by Christopher D. Ryan <cryan@direct.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


John Wayne and Richard Boone star in a thrilling chase across the changing frontier See more »




GP | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Spanish

Release Date:

26 May 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Million Dollar Kidnapping See more »

Filming Locations:

Rancho Marley, Durango, Mexico See more »


Box Office


$4,800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Black and White (photographs in opening credits)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Early in the movie, Michael McCandles (Christopher Mitchum) shows up sporting a revolutionary--for the time period--Bergmann automatic pistol, but proves dangerously inept in its handling. Thereafter, the weapon is carried by the more handgun-adept James McCandles (Patrick Wayne). Bergmann 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. Consequently, the weapon shown in the movie is actually a circa 1940s Walther P-38 modified by the props department to resemble the much earlier Bergmann pistol. This same prop weapon is seen again in Black Caesar (1973). See more »


When Martha is telling Big Jake how the kidnapping went down, she says they killed Juan and his family. Then Jake says "Tina and the little boy?". She says "yes". If he's been incommunicado for all these years, how did he know about the little boy? Kid looked to be about 9-10 years old, granted Jake hasn't seen James "since he was 16 years old", but full-grown James looks well older than 26. See more »


Jake: Well, if you can shoot that far, a quarter of a mile straight along the edge of my nose is a mountain buck. Shoot it.
Michael McCandles: I don't kill to make a point, Father.
Jake: Michael, there's two reason to kill - survival and meat. We need meat!
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."
19 July 2007 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

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

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