Sunday, December 26, 2010

Brannigan (1975)

Killing time between the elegiac Westerns that comprised the final statements of his epic career, John Wayne ambled through this routine thriller about a swaggering American cop set loose on the streets of London, playing the sort of trigger-happy rogue that Clint Eastwood incarnated so much more effectively during the same period in his Dirty Harry flicks. Cast properly, the movie could have boasted a terrific culture-clash tension, but with Wayne in the role, the main character doesn’t make much sense: The actor is far too old to play a dangerous man of action, and his flirtatious interplay with an attractive British copper (Judy Geeson) has a dirty-old-uncle quality, even though the film addresses their age difference. A bigger problem is that despite lots of talk about how reckless Lieutenant Jim Brannigan is, everything he does in the picture is fairly reasonable—he wrecks a good deal of public property, but it’s all in the service of getting killers off the streets. As a result, the idea that Scotland Yard is incensed by his activities never rings true, and the film makes “bobbies” look like boobs, which fits Brannigan into Wayne’s jingoistic filmography but doesn’t do much for the film’s credibility. While the movie drags throughout its laborious 111-minute running time, the underlying premise of Brannigan chasing a U.S. crook who’s hiding out in Europe is solid. Less sturdy is the subplot about an assassin hired to take out Brannigan, because the allegedly frightening killer makes a number of absurdly amateurish attempts on the hero’s life. Instead of rigging elaborate booby traps, why not just shoot the son of a bitch? Costar Richard Attenborough is drab as Wayne’s U.K. counterpart, who does little except get flustered by Brannigan’s bravado, and John Vernon isn’t given nearly enough screen time as the slimy American gangster Brannigan is trying to capture. By the time the film lurches into a ridiculously protracted showdown between Brannigan and the hapless assassin, logic and momentum have been completely trumped by sloppy direction and by Wayne’s enervated grandstanding.

Brannigan: LAME


Who Cares said...

LAME???? It's "The Duke"! With the possible (arguably) exception of "The Conqueror (1956)", John Wayne has never made a "lame" movie in his entire career!
Seriously though, I admit that it's not 1 of his best films, but it's not exactly a bad movie. I've watched it & found it enjoyable. It wasn't as good as McQ, (both movies with Wayne's answer to "Dirty Harry") but I'd rate it somewhere around C+ - B-.
"Lame".......*Tssss*....C'mon now!......Pilgrim. :-P

Matt Neffer, Boy Spotwelder said...

Watched this one last night. It is, indeed, lame.

raremoviemax said...

I have always liked and enjoyed this film. It is obvious that Wayne was too old for the part but the interplay with Attenborough and the 'fish out of water' story together with the obvious tour guide advertisment for London combined to creat an 'agreeable entertainment', as the famously difficult to please Leslie Halliwell commented.

It wasn't that bad that the story couldn't be remade years later by Danny Cannon as 'The Young Americans' with Harvey Keitel in the Wayne role and Viggo Mortensen standing in for John Vernon.

cosmo kidd said...

Yeah, this was pretty bad, but a great movie with John Vernon is "Fear Is the Key" (1972), I would rate it "RIGHT ON: Exceptional". Peter, check it out if you haven't yet! Even better, please review it.