Jim Brannigan is sent to London to bring back an American mobster who is being held for extradition but when he arrives he has been kidnapped which was set up by his lawyer. Brannigan in his American Irish way brings American law to the people of Scotland Yard in order to recapture this mobster with both A price tag on his head and a stuffy old London cop to contend with.
John Wayne ... Lt. Brannigan
Richard Attenborough ... Cmdr. Swann
Judy Geeson ... Jennifer
Mel Ferrer ... Fields
John Vernon ... Larkin
Daniel Pilon ... Gorman
John Stride ... Insp. Traven
James Booth ... Charlie the Handle
Arthur Batanides ... Angell
Ralph Meeker ... Capt. Moretti
Barry Dennen ... Julian
Lesley-Anne Down ... Luana (as Lesley Anne Down)
Pauline Delaney ... Mrs. Cooper (as Pauline Delany)
Del Henney ... Drexel
Brian Glover ... Jimmy the Bet
\'Brannigan\' is a fairly routine thriller which doubles up as an advertising feature for American tourists wishing to visit London. In both cases, it does the job pretty well. What gives it a boost is the strong supporting cast headed by leading British \'luvvie\', Richard \"Dickie\" Attenborough and the good use of London locations including Tower Bridge which is utilised in an above average car chase. Also there is a large-scale brawl in a city pub ( in Leadenhall Market) which is a direct transfer from a saloon of one of the Duke\'s innumerable westerns.
Tough Chicago cop, Jim Brannigan, is sent to London to extradite notorious American gangster, Ben Larkin, but before he can collect him, Larkin is kidnapped and Brannigan spends the rest of his time chasing around London in search of his quarry. Whilst struggling to adapt to the British way of life and the restrained style of policing, he employs techniques not usually seen outside Chicago. In the meantime, a contract has been put out on Brannigan\'s life by Larkin to prevent him from being extradited.
Though menouvring his way around London like a big vintage Cadillac, John Wayne lends his unique blend of charm and charisma and inevitably, he is given most of the best lines in what is a lively screenplay. For instance, there is nothing he likes better than to smash down villains\' front doors and bellow defiantly: \"Knock! Knock!\". This is vintage John Wayne and there is no harm in this as he was very good at what he did and as a consequence he has a devoted following of movie fans around the world.
Richard Attenborough gives sterling support as the (on the surface)stuffy, upper-class Metroplitan Police Commander not afraid to get his hands dirty . Though with characters as different as chalk and cheese on and off the screen, there is clearly a good rapport between Wayne and Attenborough. There is continual conflict on screen about Brannigans retention and use of his handgun. One of the best moments is when an increasingly hysterical Attenborough demands: \"I\'ve asked you politely, now I\'m asking you impolitely, HAND OVER THE GUN!\"
Of the rest of the cast, pretty Judy Geeson is good decoration though underused. Her main purpose appears to be to ferry Brannigan around London and to scream \"Look out, Jim!\" everytime the contract killer draws close. John Vernon as Larkin demonstrates why he was the \'heavy\' of choice throughout the 1970\'s and Mel Ferrer is suitably slimy as his lawyer. James Booth, Brian Glover and Don Henderson are all good as London thugs. Tony Robinson has a small comedic role as an innocent dupe of a dispatch rider thrown into the Thames by Brannigan long before he became Baldric in the long-running British tv series of Blackadder. Look out too for an appearance by Tony Blair\'s father-in-law, Tony Booth, as a small time con given the \'good cop-bad cop\' treatment.
Humorous, though a little bloody, \'Brannigan\' is good entertainment and if you are a fan of the Duke, it is well worth adding the DVD to your collection. My only gripe is that the movie was the inpsiration behind the god-awful 1980\'s tv seires, \'Dempsey and Makepeace\'. Forget this and you will enjoy it.
This movie has less depth than Paris Hilton. It\'s basically a very old John Wayne going to Britain and kicking butt just the same way he\'s done it in dozens of previous films. BUT, on that level, it is a very good and enjoyable film. In particular, the film had wonderful \"Dirty Harry-like\" lines and a dark sense of humor. In factor, I half expected him to say \"make my day\"--it was so much like an Eastwood film. And, the film was much better than Wayne\'s previous attempt to knock off Dirty Harry in MCQ. So, provided you can also turn off all sense of disbelief (after all, Wayne was WAY TOO OLD FOR THE PART), you can enjoy it much the same way you\'d enjoy one of his older flicks such as THE FLYING TIGERS or THE FIGHTING SEA BEES. In other words, this is a 70s version of an old Republic Pictures action film--with a few updates to reflect the times (such as Wayne being saddled with a \"dame\" for a partner). Overall, if you hate John Wayne films then I\'m sure you\'ll hate this one and if you like him, this film won\'t disappoint. It\'s just good old-fashioned fun!
By the way, according to Robert Osborne on Turner Classic Movies, John Wayne was offered the role of Dirty Harry BEFORE it was given to Eastwood! You could tell Wayne wished he had taken the part since he soon went on to make his own variations on the genre.
From the time I saw Brannigan in the theaters as a kid, through a number of chances to watch it again over the years, it has been one of my favorite movies. I grew up with the crime dramas of the 1970s, had little patience for Westerns, and am sorry John Wayne had so little time left to make detective movies. His other police drama, McQ, was trying so hard to imitate other \"gritty\" characters and films, was so formulaic, artificial, confusing, dreary, stiff, heavy-handed, and cliché, that these elements crowded out Wayne. Not so Brannigan.
Wayne shined. He was natural and utterly comfortable and convincing in the role. He was likable, frank, good-natured, decent, down-to-earth, and tough -- \"so damn solid,\" as Geeson\'s character put it (to which he replied, \"Fat, you mean\") in a nice, genuine scene where Brannigan talked about wanting to catch the hood responsible for killing his rookie partner because it was his duty to protect the kid even though, no matter how \"nice a story\" it would make if the kid had been like a son to him, he had not even liked the \"smart-aleck\" kid. Wayne had terrific, commanding screen presence. He looked as fit and acted as vigorous as called for by the role. Suggestions in other reviews that he was \"too old\" or \"too fat\" are nonsense. The mature cast is a pleasant contrast to today\'s rampant superficiality.
All of the supporting actors -- Attenborough, Geeson, Ferrer, Vernon, Pilon -- were real professionals who similarly brought substance to their roles and played them smoothly and effectively. The characters were nicely sketched. For example, Attenborough\'s titled Scotland Yard official was not a caricatured fop or dandy; he was polished but also appreciated rough, direct action to get the job done, which created a nice grudging rapport between him and Brannigan. One review\'s dismissal of Pilon\'s hit-man as \"Inspector Clouseau\" is absurd; both the policeman and the hit-man were portrayed effectively in this movie, with the policeman actually outsmarting and outmaneuvering the hit-man in believable ways. The story had action, energy, purpose, and humor. The dialogue was smart, and the plot interesting, with some clever touches. The photography and music made it all the more enjoyable.
This is a fun, smart, well-paced, well-produced detective story with a good plot, well-drawn and well-cast characters, and good locations. The movie is excellent entertainment. As such, I could not recommend it more highly. Reviewers who apparently failed to watch the film on its own merits and have nothing to offer but pseudo-sophisticated, overly general, cheap-shot criticisms do not do it justice.
* Brannigan\'s pistol, as pointed out by Cmdr. Swann, is a Colt Diamondback .38 Special with a four-inch barrel. He carries the same pistol in McQ.
* Del Henney is dubbed.
* The motorcycle dispatch courier, thrown into the Thames by John Wayne, is played by Tony Robinson who would later find fame as Baldrick in the TV series \"The Black Adder\" (1983).
* Detective Lieutenant James Brannigan, played by 67-year-old John Wayne, was supposed to be in his late fifties.
* The production was difficult for John Wayne since he had heart problems and had just recovered from a severe bout of pneumonia.
* The film proved to be one of John Wayne\'s least successful movies at the box office. Wayne himself said he would not have made the film if he had known McQ (1974) was only going to be a moderate success.