Saddle up everyone! Today is the Great Western blogathon hosted by Thoughts All Sorts!
I think I shock people when I say I love a good western film. I haven’t seen a ton, ton (hey- Im watching my way through) but I will out rightfully say I’m just as content watching a cowboy ride off into the unknown as a I am watching a Victorian costume drama.
To me the participation in this blogathon for me was an easy decision even if the choice of which one to do was hard! In the end, I settled for Big Jake (1971). It’s a John Wayne classic and you just can’t go wrong with that!
I know many of us who blog and read in the classic movie fandom are fans of John Wayne, but with that being said- in a resume of over 100 films it can be hard to sort out which ones are the essentials. In my view I think Big Jake is up there with the best- maybe not the top 5- but it’s certainly beloved.
There are so many awesome things about this picture- so without further ado- I decided to present to you five facts on why I believe Big Jake is a highlight to see on the Duke’s filmography.
1-The Cast! This movie has Maureen O’Hara playing Big Jake’s wife Martha (who else?!), Patick Wayne as son James McCandles, Ethan Wayne as grandson Little Jake McCandles, Christopher Mitchum (Robert’s son) as Michael McCandles, and Richard Boone as Gang Leader John Frain.
2-The Humor! This movie has got brief great moments of humor- The Daddy scene in the beginning, Big Jake sewing James’s trousers, Big Jake’s “Dog”, the shower scene- funny stuff!!!
3-The Family- The whole underlying theme of this story is family. Sure Big Jake hasn’t seen his grandson ever before, and hasnt seen his wife and sons for years- but that doesn’t stop him from riding off with this sons to save and rescue his grandson! And that scene with Little Jake tending to Big Jake’s wound- too adorable!! (edit- This film contains Duke’s family off screen too! Michael Wayne produced through Batjac!)
4- The Music- Western scores are seriously over looked! This movie’s score is not to be missed!
5-One of the last of its kind- Not only for John Wayne but for the western genre itself. For Duke, it was the last time he would work Maureen, Patrick and Ethan. And for westerns- well- this was 1971 and the genre was no longer appreciated by general audiences. I dare someone to watch this and not think it has great scenery, a great plot, and just good old fashioned western elements- cowboys, gun fight shootouts, horses, chasing outlaws. I for one find it sad westerns today aren’t a ‘thing’ anymore- think about it, there is no such thing as a western cowboy hero in the 21st century. I consider those who love westerns today to have good taste in movies and actors- because they literally do not make them anymore.
Bonus– watch this movie for the best recurring dialogue exchange
Person- Jacob McCandles? I thought you were dead!
Jacob McCandles- Not Hardly!
And if all that wasn’t enough take a look at this clip from the premiere of the film at Knotts Berry Farm in 1971- The Duke and Maureen- just perfect!!
BIG JAKE 1971 AVAILABLE ON DVD, BLU-RAY, and AMAZON STREAMING, OCCASIONALLY PLAYED ON TCM