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Fine late-career vehicle for an aging acting legend
jimu6315 February 2003
A year after looking silly starring in the Dirty Harry clone "McQ," John Wayne gave the modern-day cop thriller another try to much better effect in "Brannigan," a fine vehicle for the aging legend.

Wayne plays Lt. James Brannigan, a Chicago police detective hot on the trail of mobster Ben Larkin. When Larkin is located in London, England, Wayne is dispatched to pick him up and extradite him home to face criminal charges (extortion, prostitution, bribery, murder). Upon arrival in London, he meets his pretty young escort Jenny (she's on loan from vice squad.), who takes him to meet Scotland Yard chief Sir Charles Swann ("Gandhi" director Richard Attenborough, in a terrific performance). In the meantime, Larkin, who is under surveillance, is kidnapped, thwarting Brannigan's plans for a quick extradition and embarassing Swann, who has just berated Brannigan for losing Larkin in the first place and assuring him: "It can't happen here." To Swann's obvious displeasure, Brannigan decides to stick around and help Scotland Yard find Larkin, even though he and Swann have a prickly relationship at best and disapprove of each other's police methods--i.e. Brannigan is a conservative who carries a gun and believes in the use of force and Swann a liberal who doesn't believe in either. Brannigan also spends a great deal of the film dodging a hit man whom Larkin hired prior to his kidnapping.

What follows is an amusing, and low-key, caper that is culminated by a well-choreographed chase through the streets of London, a hilarious bar brawl, and several attacks by the hit man, including one in which Jenny is almost killed. Wayne is in fine form here, well-served by the change of locales and by his character who, unlike McQ, is closer to his own age and not as much of a Dirty Harry-clone. The film is also marked by a much lighter tone than his previous outing, and unlike his uncomfortable pairing with "McQ"'s Eddie Albert, he and Attenborough make a memorable team and have several terrific scenes together. A warning, however--compaired with today's myriad of over-the-top action films like "XXX" and every "Lethal Weapon" wannabe of the past fifteen years, "Brannigan" is pretty subdued and the action scenes will seem tame to today's thrill-seeking action audience. Unlike today's action dreck, the name-of-the-game in "Brannigan" is characterization and plot, as it was with most genre films of the '70's.

Also unlike today's action films, "Brannigan" has a memorable supporting cast, all of whom play characters who actually resemble real people. As I said earlier, Attenborough is terrific as Wayne's sparring partner, and Judy Geeson is a worthy partner for Wayne, although as was also standard for the era, she's mostly around to scream "Jim!" every time Brannigan is in danger and to be protected by her new friend. John Vernon (the dean in "Animal House") is a fine villain as Larkin, and Mel Ferrer scores points as Larkin's sleazy (and crooked) lawyer, who obviously knows more than he lets on. Daniel Pilon adds menace as the mostly silent hit man Gorman. And look fast for Lesley-Anne Down as a hoodlum's girlfriend.

John Wayne only made two more films after "Brannigan"--"Rooster Cogburn" and "The Shootist." And while "Brannigan" will probably be regarded as one of the lesser efforts of his legendary career, it was, and remains, an amusing and entertaining two hours, and a rare chance to see Wayne in a contemporary setting. It's a worthy effort. *** (out of *****)
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Pure entertainment
mysteriesfan26 March 2007
From the time I saw Brannigan in the theaters as a kid, through a number of chances to watch it again over the years, it has been one of my favorite movies. I grew up with the crime dramas of the 1970s, had little patience for Westerns, and am sorry John Wayne had so little time left to make detective movies. His other police drama, McQ, was trying so hard to imitate other "gritty" characters and films, was so formulaic, artificial, confusing, dreary, stiff, heavy-handed, and cliché, that these elements crowded out Wayne. Not so Brannigan.

Wayne shined. He was natural and utterly comfortable and convincing in the role. He was likable, frank, good-natured, decent, down-to-earth, and tough -- "so damn solid," as Geeson's character put it (to which he replied, "Fat, you mean") in a nice, genuine scene where Brannigan talked about wanting to catch the hood responsible for killing his rookie partner because it was his duty to protect the kid even though, no matter how "nice a story" it would make if the kid had been like a son to him, he had not even liked the "smart-aleck" kid. Wayne had terrific, commanding screen presence. He looked as fit and acted as vigorous as called for by the role. Suggestions in other reviews that he was "too old" or "too fat" are nonsense. The mature cast is a pleasant contrast to today's rampant superficiality.

All of the supporting actors -- Attenborough, Geeson, Ferrer, Vernon, Pilon -- were real professionals who similarly brought substance to their roles and played them smoothly and effectively. The characters were nicely sketched. For example, Attenborough's titled Scotland Yard official was not a caricatured fop or dandy; he was polished but also appreciated rough, direct action to get the job done, which created a nice grudging rapport between him and Brannigan. One review's dismissal of Pilon's hit-man as "Inspector Clouseau" is absurd; both the policeman and the hit-man were portrayed effectively in this movie, with the policeman actually outsmarting and outmaneuvering the hit-man in believable ways. The story had action, energy, purpose, and humor. The dialogue was smart, and the plot interesting, with some clever touches. The photography and music made it all the more enjoyable.

This is a fun, smart, well-paced, well-produced detective story with a good plot, well-drawn and well-cast characters, and good locations. The movie is excellent entertainment. As such, I could not recommend it more highly. Reviewers who apparently failed to watch the film on its own merits and have nothing to offer but pseudo-sophisticated, overly general, cheap-shot criticisms do not do it justice.
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Routine thriller with good supporting cast and locations
chrisdl_heath27 March 2004
'Brannigan' is a fairly routine thriller which doubles up as an advertising feature for American tourists wishing to visit London. In both cases, it does the job pretty well. What gives it a boost is the strong supporting cast headed by leading British 'luvvie', Richard "Dickie" Attenborough and the good use of London locations including Tower Bridge which is utilised in an above average car chase. Also there is a large-scale brawl in a city pub ( in Leadenhall Market) which is a direct transfer from a saloon of one of the Duke's innumerable westerns.

Tough Chicago cop, Jim Brannigan, is sent to London to extradite notorious American gangster, Ben Larkin, but before he can collect him, Larkin is kidnapped and Brannigan spends the rest of his time chasing around London in search of his quarry. Whilst struggling to adapt to the British way of life and the restrained style of policing, he employs techniques not usually seen outside Chicago. In the meantime, a contract has been put out on Brannigan's life by Larkin to prevent him from being extradited.

Though menouvring his way around London like a big vintage Cadillac, John Wayne lends his unique blend of charm and charisma and inevitably, he is given most of the best lines in what is a lively screenplay. For instance, there is nothing he likes better than to smash down villains' front doors and bellow defiantly: "Knock! Knock!". This is vintage John Wayne and there is no harm in this as he was very good at what he did and as a consequence he has a devoted following of movie fans around the world.

Richard Attenborough gives sterling support as the (on the surface)stuffy, upper-class Metroplitan Police Commander not afraid to get his hands dirty . Though with characters as different as chalk and cheese on and off the screen, there is clearly a good rapport between Wayne and Attenborough. There is continual conflict on screen about Brannigans retention and use of his handgun. One of the best moments is when an increasingly hysterical Attenborough demands: "I've asked you politely, now I'm asking you impolitely, HAND OVER THE GUN!"

Of the rest of the cast, pretty Judy Geeson is good decoration though underused. Her main purpose appears to be to ferry Brannigan around London and to scream "Look out, Jim!" everytime the contract killer draws close. John Vernon as Larkin demonstrates why he was the 'heavy' of choice throughout the 1970's and Mel Ferrer is suitably slimy as his lawyer. James Booth, Brian Glover and Don Henderson are all good as London thugs. Tony Robinson has a small comedic role as an innocent dupe of a dispatch rider thrown into the Thames by Brannigan long before he became Baldric in the long-running British tv series of Blackadder. Look out too for an appearance by Tony Blair's father-in-law, Tony Booth, as a small time con given the 'good cop-bad cop' treatment.

Humorous, though a little bloody, 'Brannigan' is good entertainment and if you are a fan of the Duke, it is well worth adding the DVD to your collection. My only gripe is that the movie was the inpsiration behind the god-awful 1980's tv seires, 'Dempsey and Makepeace'. Forget this and you will enjoy it.
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"Exciting, fast-paced and slickly directed."
jamesraeburn20031 May 2004
Lieutenant Jim Brannigan (John Wayne) is sent to London to extradite an extortionist called Ben Larkin. However, things become more complicated when Larkin is abducted by some hoods and at the same time, Gorman (Daniel Pilon), a contract killer is out to kill Brannigan.

Exciting, fast-paced and slickly directed by Douglas Hickox who directed Oliver Reed in "Sitting Target" (1972 - see my review), and in common with that film, his direction has the right feel for tough guy thrillers employing the right actors and staging some fantastic action scenes such as a marvelous pub brawl in a London bar. And also in common with "Sitting Target" the direction papers over a somewhat deficient script. Great performances from John Wayne as Brannigan and Richard Attenbrough as the commander of Scotland Yard frustrated at the former's police methods which seem unorthodox by British standards. Judy Geeson is good as Detective Sgt Thatcher who is assigned to keep Brannigan out of trouble while Daniel Pilon is superb as the contract killer out for Brannigan's blood. The film is an obvious rip off of "Dirty Harry" (1971)which Wayne regretted turning down after he saw that movie.
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Trodding the Path of Eastwood
bkoganbing21 June 2006
By the mid 1970s the western film had really become a thing of the past. The action heroes by that time were police of all different kinds of character. Clint Eastwood had sure proved that with the success of the Dirty Harry Films. In fact by the time Brannigan came out, Eastwood had two of them already done.

I suspect that John Wayne was also looking for modern stories for reasons of health. Those western locations were and are pretty rugged. Wayne was 68 when this was done and playing a man in his fifties. He also had only one working lung in those last dozens years of work after the cancer operation of 1964.

So in Brannigan Wayne makes a more successful transition from his western character to a modern policeman than he did in McQ. He's from the Chicago PD and in London to pick up gangster John Vernon who's skipped bail. An assignment that the San Francisco PD surely would have sent Harry Callahan on.

Vernon is not only not in custody with Scotland Yard, but he's been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Vernon's lawyer Mel Ferrer arrives from Chicago to pay the ransom.

It's a merry chase from then on and while the ending is no kind of surprise the film is a lot of fun.

Richard Attenborough makes an effective British foil for Wayne's all American hero. And Judy Geeson who first became noticed by movie fans as a student in Sidney Poitier's class in Two Sir With Love, plays Wayne's driver and confidante as a police sergeant. The two of them have a marvelous father/daughter like chemistry.

Wayne films are not complete unless there is a fight scene. In this case a London pub is busted up like a frontier saloon in a scene reminiscent of The War Wagon. It's sort of out of place though in a modern film.

And the climax is a homage to Dirty Harry. Dare I say it, but I'm still wondering why Eastwood's Malpaso Productions didn't sue the Duke's Batjac company for that scene which is ripped off from Magnum Force.

Probably because Clint liked the homage.
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Don't sell this one short!
george_chabot21 March 2002
Better than average cop movie that compares favorably with "Dirty Harry" and "Sharky's Machine." Beautiful color DVD transfer in 2.35 : 1.

Beautiful photography of locations in London. Jazzy score typical of the '70s.

Action fans, crime fans, and John Wayne fans will not be disappointed.
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Overlooked John Wayne gem.
knight_hawk200229 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Brannigan represented John Wayne's second and final movie in which he plays a contemporary streetwise detective.

The film involves him travelling to London to extradite a mob boss called Ben Larkin played by John Vernon, upon arriving in London Brannigan discovers that Larkin has been kidnapped whilst under surveillance from Scotland Yard. The remainder of the movie follows Brannigan in conjunction with Scotland Yard headed by Commander Swan and their attempts to locate Larkin and bring him to justice.

Brannigan is rather a good movie in which John Wayne exercises his enormous charisma and charm on screen to great effect. The movie is somewhat more light-hearted than Dukes previous cop movie 'McQ', however it still manages to deliver some rather dramatic moments such as the kidnapping scene and Brannigan's ongoing battle with a persistent hit-man.

Brannigan is faced with the problem of being continually compared to Clint Eastwood's detective movies and most comparisons made usually look unfavourably upon Brannigan which is unjust. Whilst Eastwood's 'Dirty Harry' movie is undeniably a better movie than Brannigan a strong argument can be made that Brannigan is superior to all sequels to this movie as well as 'Coogans Bluff' and 'The Gauntlet'. Several of these movies are clearly lacking in ideas and some of them have a cheapness about them, 'The Enforcer' and 'The Dead Pool' spring to mind within this category. However they do have an undeniable appeal and are generally enjoyable movies they are certainly not cinematic masterpieces and many are living on the reputation of 'Dirty Harry'.

Brannigan also fares better than 'McQ' due to the cinematography being fresher and more fluent, better acting, directing and stronger characters, these factors all combine to create a better overall movie. However the movie does have its weaknesses such as an overdrawn money switchover that results in Duke pushing a young Tony Robinson into the Thames. The movie also suffers from some poor editing within it particularly prevalent during the opening sequences involving a police car tracking Brannigan while the opening credits are being screened; the scene becomes too long and ineffectual. However these weaknesses do not detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

One of the best aspects of movie is the culture clash between America and the UK, John Wayne and Richard Attenborough act as a microcosm of this clash, with each trying to impose their methods upon the other. Brannigan's insistence on using physical force during the investigation contrasts with Attenborough's analytical and methodical approach to detective work. In fact the on screen pairing of both Duke and Attenborough was a stroke of genius as the two men play of each other very well, their scenes are well written and there's an undeniable energy and excitement these scenes.

Brannigan will never be remembered as one of John Wayne's best movies which is perhaps accurate, however it is also not remembered as a good movie which is completely unfair, it has some great scenes, interesting characters and a good storyline, it certainly deserves a much better reputation than it currently has.
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John Wayne swaps the open plains for downtown London - fairly routine but quite good fun.
barnabyrudge7 August 2004
After a spate of tired westerns, and unmemorable cop programmers like McQ, John Wayne was in need of something a little fresh. Brannigan doesn't have much in its plot that we haven't seen before, but it is freshened up by its unusual London setting. Nicely directed by Douglas Hickox, and complemented by lots of good supporting performances, it is also entertaining in patches.

Chicago cop, and all-round hard man Jim Brannigan (John Wayne) is ordered to fly out to London, England, to bring back bail-skipping gangster Ben Larkin (John Vernon). But just as Brannigan arrives, Larkin is abducted by a bunch of British crooks who plan to hold him for a hefty ransom. Aided by stiff-lipped Scotland Yard detective Charles Swann (Richard Attenborough), Brannigan attempts to track down the kidnappers so that he can get hold of his man.

Wayne looks pretty old for this kind of energetic action stuff, but he has a certain rugged charisma that allows him to more-or-less get away with it. The supporting cast is generally very good - Attenborough registers well as the Scotland Yard detective; Judy Geeson looks lovely and has a good role as the lady assigned to look after Brannigan during his stay; Vernon adds another unpleasant bad guy to his villains' gallery; and little-known Daniel Pilon has the best scenes in the film as a genuinely evil hit-man assigned to erase Brannigan. The music, scored by Dominic Frontiere, is hilariously '70s and is poured over the action with little consideration. There are also some unnecessary comic moments, such as the needlessly farcical bar-room brawl sequence which is out of tune with the rest of the film (Maltin, preposterously, called the bar-room brawl the high spot of the film but if anything it's the low point). At its worst, Brannigan stoops pretty low, but these low moments are gladly quite sporadic. For most of the way, it's an entertaining - if never truly excellent - star vehicle, and a genuinely "different" role for The Duke.
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John Wayne in England. The 'Duke' and the Queen?!
buzznzipp199512 December 2006
Proper settings, tea and crumpets. The 'Duke' in London. That just sounds hilarious! An investigation, from one of America's,( forget that the world's) most beloved western cowboy hero...over the pond, to follow a case. Face it, Marion Morrison, always played the character, named "John Wayne", in everything he did. People loved that. They loved him. It's plain to see, but I laughed out loud, quite a few times in this police story of murder and mayhem in Jolly old England. Lt. Brannigan informs Attenbourogh's Commander Swann of Scotland yard that they need to "Hit the streets and pass out some of that good green stuff, e Pluribus Unim!" Only a cowboy cop would say that. In the middle of a club in London and he is asking for Pancakes and bacon, with eggs. What shame, hath he none? Might he embarrass himself in front of the Queen's subject's? Non-sense! Here is a bull, in a china shop. The original rough-rider and with him a dedicated great casting of characters. John Vernon, is irreplaceable as Mr.big! The quintessential gangster, his voice is booming and he is definitely outspoken. Big bad Ben Larkin, the one that J.B. wants to lock up, or put under! I especially enjoyed even the little things i.e. when they decided to walk instead of ride and talked their business in the street heading through the park. The camera work etc. John Gorman is a Erie great addition to the cast as the hit-man. Scary numb looking gentlemen. The story gets even more interesting with the partnering up of Det. Sgt. Thatcher, 'Jenny' as Brannigan refers to her. American brevity. I especially enjoyed that she 'kissed' him at the dinner table, when he admitted that he had made a mistake with a rookie. Then she said when asked why, ' You're just so darn solid.' "Fat you mean." He chuckles. From the question of Cmdr Swann, when asked about describing an opinion of Jim Brannigan, answers, "Well, he's an American." to the bar room set-up, and brawl, and the chase through the streets past Market Square, and over Tower Bridge!! Brannigan especially loves 'Knock knock' jokes, the punch line, kicking down the front door! Then informed Ben Larkin that he could reach for his gun, if he wanted to sing Soprano! I love it.

The music in this for a Wayne film, was in fact absolutely capitol, it should have won an award. The film has intense Wayne action! The story and acting are just what they should be, a seventies classic that can be enjoyed by John Wayne fans again and again!!

I recommend to the discriminating Wayne fan that likes a taste of adventure mixed into the storyline. (****)
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good old-fashioned no-brainer fun
MartinHafer24 January 2006
This movie has less depth than Paris Hilton. It's basically a very old John Wayne going to Britain and kicking butt just the same way he's done it in dozens of previous films. BUT, on that level, it is a very good and enjoyable film. In particular, the film had wonderful "Dirty Harry-like" lines and a dark sense of humor. In fact, I half expected him to say "make my day"--it was so much like an Eastwood film. And, the film was much better than Wayne's previous attempt to knock off Dirty Harry in MCQ. So, provided you can also turn off all sense of disbelief (after all, Wayne was WAY TOO OLD FOR THE PART), you can enjoy it much the same way you'd enjoy one of his older flicks such as THE FLYING TIGERS or THE FIGHTING SEA BEES. In other words, this is a 70s version of an old Republic Pictures action film--with a few updates to reflect the times (such as Wayne being saddled with a "dame" for a partner). Overall, if you hate John Wayne films then I'm sure you'll hate this one and if you like him, this film won't disappoint. It's just good old-fashioned fun!

By the way, according to Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies, John Wayne was offered the role of Dirty Harry BEFORE it was given to Eastwood! You could tell Wayne wished he had taken the part since he soon went on to make his own variations on the genre.
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Another good cop movie for Wayne.
inspt71-125 June 2004
In Brannigan, Wayne plays the role of Jim Brannigan, an American cop who goes to London to capture a runaway fugitive played by John Vernon. Wayne soon finds out that London cops are not at all alike American cops. Most of the English cops don't carry a gun and Richard Attenbourough made sure that Wayne didn't use it unless absolutely necessary. Brannigan's partner well played by Judy Geeson is more like a shaparone then a partner because she drives him everywhere and works along side of him to make sure he behaves himself. Wayne also get's in a wild car chase in the busy London streets. With a farly good screenplay and a good 70's score by Dominic Frontiere, this film is worth three stars.
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If only for the car chase
glenn-aylett12 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Not bad, but what makes it for me is when John Wayne commandeers a young man's new Capri to chase a contract killer in the ultimate gangster car of the time, a sixties Jaguar. I love it where he drives over Tower Bridge and totally wrecks the car, while the Jaguar gets away. I've waited a year for delivery, as Wayne steps out of the ruined Capri and the door falls off. Also good at the end is an appearance of a battered E Type with the killer Gorman behind the wheel, firing a machine pistol at Brannigan, who has to dodge bullets before shooting him right between the eyes. Otherwise a bit ho hum, though Tony Booth has a decent role and Sir Dickie is good as Brannigan's superior. However, for classic car nuts like me, the orange Capri makes it.
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Entertaining John Wayne film in the "Dirty Harry" scheme of things...
Doylenf26 April 2008
JOHN WAYNE fans have nothing to complain about. This may not be one of his top films, but it's a piece of slick entertainment with a good script and some clever lines and situations.

He may have been sixty-eight when he did BRANNIGAN, but he was still convincing enough as a "kick butt" cop transplanted rather suddenly to ye olde London and coping with some shrewd and cunning kidnappers demanding a great deal of ransom money. In addition, he has to cope with RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH as the police chief who doesn't like Wayne's Yankee ways.

It's a tale that gets off to a brisk start and never stops feeling like a spin off from a "Dirty Harry" movie starring Clint Eastwood. In fact, given Wayne's age, Clint probably would have been a more suitable, age appropriate choice for the leading role here--but Wayne still had enough energy and spirit to play the part in his usual style.

JOHN VERNON and DANIEL PILON make an interesting pair of villains, as does MEL FERRER as a crooked lawyer who's in on the kidnapping scheme. All of them get their comeuppance in a script that has quite a few surprises and plot twists along the way. JUDY GEESON has a nice rapport with Wayne as the woman assigned to drive him around the city.

Nicely photographed with good shots of the busy London area, it's not one of Wayne's best films but it's a very satisfying one with a good plot and a fair amount of action. The London pub brawl did seem to be a bit overdone but the director obviously played it for laughs.

Summing up: Never a dull moment.
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Action packed,comedy filled fun!
TankGuy3 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
After the success of MCQ(1974),John Wayne decided to make another cop movie,this time going into partnership with Wellborn Limited,Levy-Gardner-Laven and United Artists,the result was an action masterpiece known as BRANNIGAN.

Brannigan is brilliant and one of the best action movies of all time,it's got a great and brilliant storyline,fantastic acting and characters,hilarious one liners and legendary action scenes.The storyline is kept simple and it feels like it's come right out of a 70s cop TV series and John Wayne is brilliant as Jim Brannigan,whom he puts his all into playing,Richard Attenborough is equally good as Brannigans partner Commander Swann.

The picture contains elements of comedy,One liners like That's Right Commander,You Can't Get A Decent Hamburger Any Place and Get Brannigan Out Of There,Use A Forklift If You Have To really bring the movie to life,the scene in which Brannigan pushes a young Tony Robinson into the River Thames is painfully funny,but the funniest scene of all has got to be where Brannigan bursts into a bookmakers house,slams hims face down on a table and says I Would Talk If I Were You,Not Unless You Want To Pay For Englands Free Dental Care,this scene is comedy gold,by the end of the movie you will be in tears from laughter,but you have to see it to appreciate it.

There's plenty of action to enjoy,there's car chases,shootouts and an epic brawl inside a pub,the car chase is really funny as the duke steals a civilians car and causes havoc on our British roads,skidding around bends at breakneck speed and finally making a breathless leap across an closing/opening Tower Bridge,later remarking The View From Tower Bridge Was Terrific,honestly,you'll laugh your heart out.There's another car scene at the end of the film,it's not really a chase but it's still very exciting,after the duke has taken care of the bad guys,a mysterious assassin in a sports car turns up and races at the duke while trying to run him down,but the duke is able to shoot the driver in the head with his magnum,sending the car flying over the edge of a ramp and exploding into flames,very exhilarating stuff.The brawl is one of the greatest movie fight scenes ever as 50+ men beat each other to a pulp with the duke and Commander Swann joining in on the fun,the funniest part of this scene is where some poor Joe is repeatedly thrown against a Jukebox,changing the tune each time,during the chaos,chairs and bottles are thrown,people are sent crashing through bannisters to the ground below and some guy is thrown right across the bar,it's one of the greatest scenes ever to be seen in a movie,the other action scenes are a shootout in which the mysterious guy in the sports car tries to kill the duke with a small machine gun but the duke smashes a window,fires shots at the car and sends it screaming down the road wishing it had never picked on him(part of this scene is done in slow motion,making it really funny),other action includes exploding toilets and exploding flower vases,Brannigan contains some of the greatest action scenes ever filmed.

The soundtrack is very good,Brannigan is a lot better than the dukes previous cop drama,Mcq,if you want a good laugh and lots of action,this is your movie,i highly recommend this film to all fans of John Wayne and action movies.A gem.
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John Wayne heads to the UK- Finally!
SciFiSheriff26 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
John Wayne is probably one of the best actors ever to star in a film, acting in over 140 films. I'm glad this gem brings the duke to my home, UK!

Yes, this is my review of 3rd last film, Brinnigan

The plot goes like this;

A US cop arrives in London on a mission to hunt down an American delinquent that escaped justice. Although he partners with Scotland yard and in required to follow British Laws, Brannigan takes the law into his own hands, occasionally putting himself and his colleagues at risk.

This is John Wayne's second crime thriller. His first was a film called McQ, which he acted in a year earlier. Although the film was great, this film surpasses it in a number of levels.

Firstly, there is a lot more action. Most of them are great shootouts but there are 2 scenes that really stood out for me. The first would be a huge fistfight that starts in a tavern that will leave you aching with laughter. It's slapstick gold with chairs and people flying in all directions. The second scene that really stood out for me was the car chase. In this scene, Brannian hijacks a public Vehicle and follows a criminal in hot pursuit. They speed pass traffic knocking cars everywhere and it ends with the car flying up tower bridge when it was still being raised! Adrelaline rushing stuff! It's Filmography is fantastic and shows you from the bonnet of the car which was a good twist. Best car chase ever? I think I can say yes!

There isn't really any actors that are well known bar Richard Attenborough who acts brilliantly. He and Brannigan go like chalk and cheese and it's just hilarious to watch.

John Wayne films are known to have jokes and funny one-liners but none have as much as this classic. Sometimes it feels like you are watching a comedy. One funny line is a conversation with Richard and John; "This is not Chicargo you know brannigan!" "thats right commander you can't get a decent hamburger anywhere!". Classic. If you don't like the film, you will like the jokes.

Finally, the film's thriller side really succeeds it's intriguing and mind boggling. If you like mystery movies with a good plot look no further! Although it has a deep storyline, you will find it easy to follow. The final act is action packed and has a really exciting climax (I will not spoil it for you.)

The movie is rated "15" or "R" but it deserves a PG. there is very little that will upset younger viewers.

A fantastic cop movie from the Duke himself. A hilarious crime triller that contains great mystery and the best car chase ever. Don't miss out on this Gem.
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John Wayne made better ones in his legendary career
TheUnknown837-118 October 2008
John Wayne plays the titular character in the 1975 cop film "Brannigan" and this film, unfortunately, is not one of the Duke's best. Now I do not detest "Brannigan". I do not hate it, I just don't think it's very good and it's not worth more than two or three views. John Wayne made a lot of great movies in his epic career--he made a lot of masterpieces and gave some incredible performances--but this movie does not rank with them. And Wayne himself said that he wasn't particularly fond of it either.

Brannigan is an American police officer who is sent overseas to London to bring back a fugitive from justice who fled the country. He arrives to discover that the fugitive, played by John Vernon, has been kidnapped and held for ransom. Brannigan and the London police force, led by Commander Swan (Richard Attenborough) must try to save him and dodge assassination attempts made by the enemy.

This is a fine plot in a film that just doesn't quite work. "Brannigan" has slow pacing, not much in the action category, and it's quite clear that it's trying desperately to top off with the classic action cop movies like "Dirty Harry" (1971) even down to the music score, which resembles Lalo Schifrin's score from the mentioned Clint Eastwood film. It has its moments, but not nearly enough to make it recommendable. It's not a depressing movie, but not an exhilarating one either. Wayne gives his usual good performance, but even an icon like him can't save the movie.

If you are a die-hard John Wayne fan, then you must naturally see "Brannigan" so that you can say you've seen all of your favorite actor's movies. If you're not, then you might as well skip it over, for it's really not that interesting to watch. See other, better Wayne movies such as "The Searchers" (1956), "True Grit" (1969), "El Dorado" (1966)", and "In Harm's Way" (1965).
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Real great fun to watch John Wayne plays 'Dirty Harry'!
saykeng12 August 2006
I recently watched the reruns of two action movies, McQ & Brannigan, both starring John Wayne, on cable TV. I had watched both of them in the theatres during the mid 70's or so.

As a young boy, I have always enjoyed watching John Wayne in so many westerns (Stage-coach, Rio Bravo, True Grit...) & in so many war movies (Green Berets, Sands of Iwo Jima, The Longest Day...).

I believe that John Wayne was almost in his late 60's/early 70's when he starred in the above two movies. I also believe that these were the only two movies in which he had played a street-wise no-nonsense cop. That's 'Dirty Harry' style! In the first movie, McQ, he was Police Detective-Lieutenant Lon McQ in Seattle. He investigated the death of his partner & along the way uncovered some corrupt elements in his police department with shady connections to the mob. The signature mobster in the movie, Manny Santiago, was played by Al Lettieri.

In the second movie, Brannigan, he was Police Detective-Lieutenant Jim Brannigan in Chicago. He was sent to London to bring back an American mobster on the run, Ben Larkin, (played by John Vernon) & along the way he got entangled with the conservative work-style of Scotland Yard.

Despite his age, John Wayne was really remarkable in both roles. Having seen him in so many westerns & war movies, it was refreshing to see him acting in contemporary settings. The hot-pursuit action sequences (car chases & shoot-outs) were really good, considering that era. In McQ, the car chase along the beach, with sea gulls fluttering away for cover, was magnificantly choreographed. In Brannigan, the car chase segment ending at the Tower Bridge was great, too. There was even a large-scale brawl at a London pub...reminiscent of John Wayne's innumerable westerns. The storyline in both movies was quite intriguing. In McQ, he even got to show off his physical prowess with an unlicensed sub-machine gun. That was cool! The dialogue in both movies was witty, too.

In Brannigan, one could see how big & tall John Wayne was, when he was in London among the crowd. He really stood out like a sore thumb. His opposite was Commander Sir Charles Swann of Scotland Yard, played by a very fine British actor, Richard Attenborough. John Wayne even got a beautiful side-kick in the movie, Detective Sergeant Jennifer Thatcher, played by Judy Geeson.

In McQ, I was very surprised to see John Wayne in an intimate scene involving a junkie informer played by a fine actress (Colleen Dewhurst) in an understated role. This was something which had never happened in any of his other movies, as far as I know! On the whole, both movies had a good mix of action, drama & comedy, coupled with witty dialogue throughout. I have enjoyed very much watching both of them again after so many years.
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Modern Wayne!
kenandraf8 October 2001
Modern style Wayne in this action police movie with a little comedy here and there tailored to all police action genre fans.Not as good as MacQ but still fairly entertaining.This movie is dragged down by a very bad ending wrap up last few scenes though which is too bad because everything was above average up untill those last 10 minutes or so.Wayne still has a lot of spunk for his age here.What a guy.......
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Grand Entertainment
pts2001-112 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This pure over the top 70's film will delight the fans of not only John Wayne but also those who love the "only in the 70's style" Pure class entertainment.

See if you can guess the motorcycle courier who later stared in a very funny UK TV comedy series.

Fans of the Citroen SM will find one of the rare Mazarati V6 powered vehicles 30 secs after the first scene with the two guys in the windows overlooking the mailbox. The work of art on wheels is blue :)

The film was made 4 years before the Duke's death.

Like all John Wayne films it involves guns, so i would recommend it as a 15+ movie.
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Big John Wayne as a Chicago police detective who goes in search of a dangerous gangster , John Vernon .
ma-cortes6 February 2017
This thrilling movie is a genuine ripping yarn with intrigue , mystery , tension , shotguns , car crashes , and outstanding plot twists . An enjoyable all action seventies nostalgia trip , being fast paced and rightly developed . The picture is packed with a stuffed ragbag of stash , special arms , cash and cars . Here Big John Wayne/Jim Brannigan takes on London in Chicago Style . As Chicago police lieutenant Jim Brannigan is sent to the UK , as he travels across the Atlantic to London . His mission : to arrest and to escort organized crime boss Ben Larkin (John Vernon) back to the USA but Larkin's hit-men (Daniel Pilon , James Booth) prepare an ambush for Brannigan . Along the way , Branningan is helped by two British Police Inspectors : Cmdr. Swann (Richard Attenborough) and Jennifer (Judy Geeson) .

Nice and agreeable thriller with a great cast and a sensational John Wayne against his nemesis magnificently played by John Vernon in one of his meatiest roles as a villain who has fled the States rather than face a grand jury indictment . Humor , noisy action , thrills and suspense abound in this fun film . One of Duke's last movies with a more work modern day assignment than most , here he stars in the somewhat unfamiliar character of a two-fisted and violent Chicago police officer in ¨Dirty Harry¨ style . Stepping out of his ordinary Westerns and into the character of a tough police man , Big Duke goes in search of revenge on the mobster who killed his rookie colleague . John Wayne starred in this film , along with ¨McQ¨ , because he missed out on starring in Dirty Harry (1971) . Although , it was originally intended as a vehicle for Steve McQueen , it was heavily rewritten for John Wayne . Here Wayne fits perfectly to this peculiar role , giving a top-notch and sympathetic acting , as usual . Wayne's image still remained impervious during the seventies surviving through an overlong career . Wayne unmistakeably a legendary figure of the West and by that time he would go playing good Westerns , as he triumphantly survived his own era with titles as ¨True grit¨ in which he won an Academy Award ,¨Big Jake¨, ¨Train robbers¨ , ¨The cowboys¨ , ¨Rooster Cogburn¨ , his last film ¨The Shootist¨, and , of course , his two final thrillers : ¨McQ¨ and ¨Brannigan¨ . Even more old-fashioned that Wayne's former police drama ¨McQ¨(here playing a Chigago Police cop) , ¨Brannigan is also more amusing and entertaining . It rambles a bit , but then it does have full of suspense , intrigue and action . In ¨Brannigan¨ there are also brawls and punches at a typical London pub . Along with spectacular car races , bounds and leaps across Tower Bridge . Stirring film in which there are nail-biting action scenes , intrigue , blasts , suspenseful set pieces and a big star as well as an excellent plethora of secondaries such as : Judy Geeson , Richard Attenborough , Mel Ferrer , Ralph Meeker , Daniel Pilon , James Booth , Bruce Glover and brief acting by Lesley Anne Down as a prostitute . It packs a colorful cinematography by Gerry Fisher , showing splendidly the habitual London sightseeing : Big Ben , Parliament , Trafalgar Square , Regency Street , Buckingham Palace , Piccadilly Circus , Tower Bridge , among others . Besides, a moving as well as exciting musical score by Dominic Frontiere .

This tough crime drama was well directed by Douglas Hickock who was quoted at the time as saying that he just wanted to make a John Wayne film . Hickock was an expert at blazing action scenes and realizing acceptable films until his early death at 59 , being his film debut : ¨It's All Over Town¨ and his final ¨Dirty Dozen: The Series¨, TV series . Being Father of directors Anthony Hickox and James D.R. Hickox . Douglas began as an assistant director and second unit director in the 1950's . Before working on feature films , he also directed hundreds of commercials . As part of a bequest , the Douglas Hickox Award is given to a British director on their debut feature . Douglas made all kinds of genres and playing them known actors , such as Drama : ¨Sins¨ with Joan Collins , ¨Mistral's daughter¨ with Stacy Keach ; Black comedy : ¨Entertaining Mr Sloane¨ with Harry Andrews ; Monster movie : ¨Behemoth , the sea monster¨ co-directed by Eugene Lorie with Gene Evans ; Action : ¨Sky riders¨ with James Coburn ; Thriller : ¨blackout¨ with Richard Widmark , ¨Sitting Target¨ with Oliver Reed ; Warlike : ¨Zulu dawn¨ with Peter O'Toole ; a Sherlock movie : ¨The Hound of Baskervilles¨ with Ian Richardson and his best film was ¨Theatre of blood¨ an ironical terror/comedy with Vincent Price .
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Routine but Enjoyable Crime Thriller
BJJManchester28 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
BRANNIGAN is a routinely plotted late vehicle for John Wayne,not in the saddle as you'd usually expect but in 1970's London.The location and the sight of Wayne in such unexpected surroundings is easily the strongest element of the film.The uninspired script and story (about pursuing gangster John Vernon) is somewhat compensated with some well handled action,some decent light relief,and the sheer spectacle of Wayne sharing scenes with familiar British character actors,a highly unusual and rather fascinating occurrence.Richard Attenborough is his main co-star here,along with Judy Geeson,who gives a good account of herself despite what is a basically underwritten and pointless role,but who would have thought that the Duke would ever share scenes with such actors as John Stride,Tony Booth,Del Henney and Tony Robinson? The best of these encounters is with that stalwart Yorkshire actor Brian Glover,a truly odd pairing of actors and styles,though the confrontation scene involved works rather well.

Director Douglas Hickox even manages to fit in a barroom brawl,in the mode of many previous Wayne westerns,which is well-staged with some amusing slapstick-style antics.This is the film's highlight,and the sub-plot about a hit-man(Daniel Pilon)also has some well-staged action.Another negative against the film is credibility;Wayne is obviously too old for the part,and is further hampered by an even more obvious hairpiece,but if you can remove this problem from your mind,the Duke is still just about acceptable as the action lead.

BRANNIGAN is a decent latter-day vehicle for John Wayne,though it is with relief that this film was not his last;THE SHOOTIST was a far more apposite,dignified,thoughtful and distinguished swan song to one of the most celebrated careers in movie history.

RATING:6 out of 10.
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From cowboy to cop once again
soranno4 November 2002
During his final years, John Wayne wanted to shed his western image and so he began portraying some multiple roles most notably as cops in "McQ" and this 1975 United Artists release. He portrays a tough Chicago cop who goes cross country and beyond to pursue a racketeer fugitive. Wayne can actually deliver some fine cop portrayals but he never got another chance after this one to do so. The following year, his next film, a western called "The Shootist" was also his last, therefore putting an end to one of Hollywood's greatest acting careers.
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The Duke from the Chicago P.D. joins forces with Scotland Yard in getting great, International Police Work done between John Bull & Uncle Sam!
redryan6411 November 2007
The popularity of DIRTY HARRY (1971) with Clint Eastwood was a runaway brush-fire of a hit and quickly made the Country and the World super aware of Clint Eastwood and of the character of Inspector Harry Callahan (alias "Dirty Harry").

It was also a great plug for Smith & Wesson's Model 29 .44 Magnum Pistol. And, inasmuch as we have long concurred with the old saying of: "The Difference between Men and Boys is the Price of the Toys!". It didn't surprise us with the effect this had on the Police of our U.S. of A. The result was that Cops from all over the country, be they Big City, Small Town, Sheriff's County Departments, State Troopers and what have you, were hot to get one. If their departments required a primary weapon to be say a .38 calibre or .357 magnum, they would get them for use as a secondary weapon.

So it came to pass that one Marion Michael Morrison, having been in the Picture business for nearly 50 years, as John Wayne of course, was into portraying that "Loose Cannon" or "Rogue Cop." In 1974, it was "McQ" with the 'Duke' as a Dirty Harry-type Detective involved with trying to expose some internal conspiracy within the Seattle Police Department.

That brings us up to 1975 and "BRANNIGAN". The location this time is definitely "My Kind of Town", and that would be our hometown of Chicago.

This puts Mr. Wayne in the awkward, but realistic position of a grizzled, old veteran; one who is caught up in the wave of "touchy feely", super-sensitive forerunner of what we today refer to as 'Political Correctness.' And more so, Wayne's character of Lieutenant Jim Brannigan finds himself as an old dog, who not only can't learn new tricks, but staunchly refusing to even consider it.

After an opening sequence of Brannigan, working solo (10-99 in Police Jargon) has a known, and apparently wanted felon trapped in some sort of construction shack. We see Brannigan get the needed information from the punk criminal, via a sort of combination of misinformation and implication of impending ass-whippin', which never comes of course.* Receiving word from a 2 Man (that's 10-4 in that same Police Talk) summoning him into his office.

Upon arrival, Brannigan get's his assignment from his boss, Captain Moretti (Ralph Meeker). Moretti gives him not only the particulars of the assignment, but also some admonitions about his methods. He also gets word that there could be trouble and he is definitely the Man for the Job! In short, Lt. Brannigan (it's Jim or Joe, because continuity dropped the ball leaving him with this dual identity problem.) is to travel to London, England in order to extradite one Big Time Yank Hood, Ben Larkin (John Vernon). The high profile case calls for a lot of big shot police officials on both side of the Atlantic to putting their two cents in on the deal.

Once in Merry Old England**, Brannigan is met by Police Commander Sir Charles Swann (Richard Attenborough) from (?) Scotland Yard, of course. It is clear that the Brannigan reputation has preceded him. Beyond cautioning him about his Chicago methods not being tolerated in Great Britain. Brannigan is assigned one Detective Sergeant Jennifer Thatcher (Judy Gleeson) as a liaison to the Commander's Office as well as someone to keep the American in line while he is there.

To the credit of the Production Crew, there isn't even a hint at any sort of 'romance' (that's Sex, Schultz!) between the Duke and a Lady who could easily be his daughter, age wise, any how. Det. Sgt. Thatcher relates how her own Father had a saying about his experience with Yank Military Men during World War II, which was: "There are only three things wrong with the Yanks. They're over paid, oversexed and over here."

Brannigan in turn related that he has a son about her age, who is now a Lawyer, an Assistant States Attorney in the Cook County, Illinois States Attorney's Office. (That's the County that Chicago is in.) Next a little crap is thrown in the game as the Hood to be returned to the U.S. is kidnapped and held for a Ransom. As a little token of sincerity, the captors send a finger from Bad Guy Larkin. So we soon see what follows to be just what is, a super-convoluted, double cross upon double cross plot that had more deception than THE STING (1973).

In the end, everything seems to have been resolved to an acceptable conclusion. The 2nd , and last of the John Wayne Modern Day Law Man epics was history. To their credit, while still allowing John Wayne to be himself, (and they even had a comic barroom brawl) and yet still not insult our intelligence by keeping his activities to that of an older guy on the Police Department!

Ah yes, the 'Duke' had sure come a long way those old LONE STAR Productions' Westerns of the early 1930's; or had he?

NOTE: * Of course today all the Bleating Hearts would classify this as 'torture' and have the wrong-doer released, with apology no doubt!

NOTE: ** The scenes filmed in England were particularly beautiful, leading us to wonder if the film had received any con$ideration for filming there. You know, kinda lika Informercial/Paid Travel Log!
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"You dirty lousy mick, you got no rules!"
classicsoncall1 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In deference to John Wayne's legendary film career in Westerns, Turner Classic Movies moderator Ben Mankiewicz stated that you could move "Brannigan" out West and it would work. Having seen a ton of Wayne's films, I think it's pretty safe to say that this more closely resembled his Lone Star flicks from the Thirties like "Texas Terror" or "The Lawless Frontier" rather than say, "Rio Bravo" or "True Grit".

I think a lot of it boils down to the writing; there's a lot here that doesn't make sense. For starters, how is it that Jim Brannigan's boss Moretti (Ralph Meeker) in Chicago hands him a passport among other things to go to London. You have to apply for a passport yourself and have your picture taken along with supplying a ton of identification. Then in London, when he becomes aware that assassin Drexel is on the street below the apartment he's investigating, he shouts out to him to stop!! Really? They teach you that in detective school? And how about the continuity lapse when Commander Swann (Richard Attenborough) tells Brannigan he's got a phone call, Swann calls him 'Joe'.

At least part of the story line was interesting though. The Larkin (John Vernon) kidnapping plot kept you guessing as to what was going to happen next, and the hit-man hired by the American mobster started out as a fairly creative fellow in his attempts to take out Wayne's character. But there again, the final face off between Brannigan and Gorman (Daniel Pilon) was written far too clumsily. I can't imagine a professional assassin would be so reckless to put an end to his target that he'd pull out all the stops and try to run him over with his car, giving Brannigan plenty enough time to just shoot him through the windshield. It felt like the writers just needed a quick way to get this thing over with.

Through it all, Brannigan's English partner Jennifer Thatcher (Judy Geeson) is easy on the eyes and gets in that cool line about Americans being 'overworked, over-sexed and over here'. After that quick peck on the cheek she gave Brannigan I groaned a bit thinking the film makers were heading in the wrong direction, but unlike Wayne's early Westerns, this is one film that ended where the Duke didn't get the girl. If that had happened, the film makers would have really pulled a Murphy.
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In which Mr John Wayne is shown as a vulnerable elderly man...
ianlouisiana22 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
He's still big,of course,but don't let that obscure the signs of vulnerability.The way he walks to avoid the sudden jarring,the collar of his jacket folding up,the moments of reflection,the slow pacing of his part in the bar fight,his avuncular attitude towards D.S.Thatcher and the fact that he doesn't actually seem to give a damn about whether what he does meets with the approval of his superiors or not because,in the end,what can they do to him that time has not already done? All that and his (or the studio's) stubborn insistence that he persists with that silly wig add up to a portrait of a man who knows he is not what he once was and is only too aware of what he will soon become. It was brave of him to take on the role of Jim Brannigan,an old man in a young man's world.Apart from Lord Attenborough in an annoyingly silly part as a titled senior Met Officer(not many of them to the pound) he is considerably older than the British cops and villains he mixes it with. Attenborough's office at "Scotland Yard" is in fact anywhere but,with views across the river to St Paul's.Presumably the real Yard with its views of Westminster Underground station was not "London" enough. But we do get The Mall,Buckingham Palace,Piccadilly Circus etc,all shot in J.Arthur Rank "Look at Life" colour. The storyline isn't important,it's just the fish - out - of - water thing every moviegoer is familiar with and "Brannigan" is competently enough directed,rather like an episode of "The Sweeney" with a big budget and extra Granadas. The car chase through south London streets and across the half - open Tower Bridge is quite exciting and the way Mr Wayne gets out of his wrecked Capri,clambers out of the builders' skip and dusts himself off ruefully down put me in mind of Buster Keaton. Classic car lovers may find the scene where an E.type f.h.c. gets incinerated too much to bear. By 21st century standards "Brannigan" is a rather gentle reflective portrait of an ageing man succeeding - perhaps for the final time - in defying the inevitable.Mr Wayne is comfortable in that role,and I admire him even more for accepting it.
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