Brannigan (1975)

John Wayne Brannigan Chicago police lieutenant Jim Brannigan (John Wayne) is assigned to go to London so he can collect gangster Ben Larkin (John Vernon), who is being extradited back to the United States. When Brannigan arrives, he meets with officer Jennifer Thatcher (Judy Geeson), who is supposed to help him with Larkin. But a man like Larkin is bound to have a few enemies and Brannigan arrives in London just in time to find out that Larkin has been kidnapped.

There’s some question whether or not he’s really been kidnapped, but eventually the authorities are convinced and Brannigan has to work with Jennifer, Larkin’s lawyer Mel (Mel Ferrer), and Commander Swann (Richard Attenborough), the British police commander who doesn’t fully grasp Brannigan’s style of police work, to find him. But Larkin knows Brannigan has come to town to pick him up and has ordered a hit on him, so in addition to trying to find Larkin, Brannigan has to avoid the person who’s out to get him.

I liked Brannigan a lot more than I expected to. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my favorite movie discoveries so far this month and since I’m not a big Western fan, I really didn’t think I’d end up saying that about John Wayne day. So I guess it’s a good thing I decided to check out one of his non-Western films. Brannigan is a lot of fun in the unique way that 1970s cop movies can be. With all the great action scenes, the musical score, the fashions, the cars, and lots of awesome tough-sounding dialogue, it’s hard not to be entertained by it. John Wayne was so perfect for roles like Brannigan because he was such a great tough guy, even late in his career. He got to do some great action-packed scenes, punch some people, and deliver some awesome lines. I couldn’t help but love the big brawl scene that had “Let the Sun Shine” playing in the background. Or the moment near the end where Brannigan comes bursting in to confront Larkin. Those moments embody pretty much everything that I like about 1970s cop movies. Not to mention that I totally love that poster.

In the grand scheme of his career, it may not be one of John Wayne’s best movies, but considering this came very late in his career, it’s nice to see that he was able to end his career on a better note than a lot of other actors did.

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One comment

  1. Really enjoyed this review. I’m fascinated to hear that this is the film where John Wayne plays a cop in London – I remember seeing it on TV many years ago, probably a few years after release (I’m in the UK and I think it used to be shown quite often here). My vague memory is that he rides a horse round London and has a sweet little granddaughter – but I could be wrong on both of those points! I know I scoffed at this at the time – it was the first John Wayne film I’d seen and I foolishly avoided anything else of his for years! – but it sounds as if it would be a great piece of 1970s nostalgia to revisit now.

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