Big Jake (1971) 72/100 - I must have had this confused with another Wayne film, because I rated it lower many years ago. This was a pretty decent popcorn western. One thing I have to say about John Wayne, he definitely got better as he aged when it came to his acting abilities. There's more of a redoubtable and stoic nature to him in the latter era films he made, as opposed to the brash, cocksure arrogance he displaced in his youth. But like in Rio Lobo from the previous year, his co-stars, with the exception of Bruce Cabot and Richard Boone, kind of let him down. Although she's only in the beginning of the film, Maureen O'Hara, who I've always loved, is the complete opposite of what I praised Wayne for a few sentences earlier. I don't know what happened to her, but she really became a subpar performer sometime in the early sixties and never really found it again. Maybe she needed a strong director to bring out the best in her, but her delivery of lines seems so empty, that I'm kind of glad she doesn't reappear. Patrick Wayne and Christopher Mitchum prove that screen presence and talent aren't genetically encoded in offspring. There are only a few moments in the film where I kind of cringed, like the staged fight scene and the last scene in particular. After the villains are vanquished, his eldest son turns to Wayne and says, "Let's go home", to which Wayne replies, "Good Idea!" They exit stage left and the screen goes to a still shot of the happy family walking merrily to their horses, while the end credits roll. No mention of Wayne's best friend Sam or his faithful dog who've been hacked to death with a machete just moments earlier. Both of whom were infinitely more instrumental in helping Wayne recover his grandson from the kidnappers. Now I can see why Maureen O'Hara's character threw him out, he has no loyalty. And one last thing, the music composed by Elmer Bernstein throughout the entire film, made me think I was watching the sequel to The Magnificent Seven, it sounded so similar. Shame on you Elmer, you could have put a bit more effort into it, instead of rehashing that score and collecting your fee.
Original rating 58/100