Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

John Wayne in London, 1975

Following on from checking out Gary Cooper in London in 1959, see recent post below, I have now discovered a proper lulu - John Wayne as BRANNIGAN, a DIRTY HARRY type cop taking on the London underworld in the mid-70s, complete with that trashy '70s look, in Douglas Hickox's vastly entertaining movie. BRANNIGAN was the kind of fodder at the local cinema that a young movie buff like me wouldn't bother with in 1975 - we had more arty things by the big boys (Antonioni, Kubrick) to go see (like THE PASSENGER or BARRY LYNDON), but now it could be a new cult classic. It is dizzyingly enteraining, very well cast with all the usual types, as Big John shoots it up and causes car chases, fist fights and general mayhem. A cheerful cheesefest then, with Big John amiably guying his usual shoot-em-ups.

As I said before we grew up on John Wayne films in Ireland - THE QUIET MAN and THE SEARCHERS will always be Top 20 movies for me, and we liked going to see stuff like THE SEA CHASE or THE CONQUEROR and of course RIO BRAVO, followed by good-natured romps like NORTH TO ALASKA and another perfect Hawks film HATARI! ... I also loved LEGEND OF THE LOST in 1957 (Loren, Wayne labels) where he and young Sophia Loren are ideal together in this Sahara western - which was photographed by the great Jack Cardiff, he amusingly relates in his book MAGIC HOUR how Wayne came on set, as explorer Joe January, dressed in his usual cowboy gear. Cardiff asks directed Henry Hathaway"why is he dressed like a cowboy?" Hathaway replies "He always dresses like that" ...
Back to BRANNIGAN - Wayne's detective arrives in London to collect and take back two Mr Bigs: John Vernon (as good as he was in Hitch's TOPAZ) and the oily Mel Ferrer. Brannigan is given pert young Judy Geeson as his driver/assistant, and she looks better here than she did in the dreadful GOODBYE GEMINI IN 1970 (Trash label) and seems to be enjoying herself; Richard Attenborough is the pompous Scotland Yard chief who seems to operate from his Mayfair gentleman's club, assisted by a silent John Stride, while James Booth, Del Henney and others play various sleazy underworld types. I was delighted too to see Pauline Delaney again - she specialised in playing randy Irish landladies (as with Alan Bates in NOTHING BUT THE BEST or with Rod Taylor in YOUNG CASSIDY - '60s label), she is Mrs Cooper here whom Brannigan is billeted with. Wayne seemed relaxed and having fun (its his second last film), he was so iconic in the '50s, but here he is rather an outdated dinosaur with a toupee, but it is all good-natured fun where everyone seems to be in on the joke and having a laugh. An endearing trash classic then, and a fascinating look at mid-70s London. (Wayne is 68 here, he died 4 years later in '79, after those last roles in ROOSTER COGBURN and THE SHOOTIST in '76.

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