BRANNIGAN(director: Douglas Hickox; screenwriters: story by Michael Butler & Christopher Trumbo/Michael Butler/William P. McGivern/William W. Norton/Christopher Trumbo; cinematographer: Gerry Fisher; editor: Malcolm Cooke; music: Dominic Frontiere; cast: John Wayne (Lt. Jim Brannigan), Richard Attenborough (Cmdr. Sir Charles Swann), Judy Geeson (Det. Sgt. Jennifer Thatcher), Mel Ferrer (Mel Fields), John Vernon (Ben Larkin), Daniel Pilon (John Gorman), Anthony Booth (Freddy), Lesley Anne Down (Luana), James Booth (Charlie the Handle); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Arthur Gardner/Jules Levy; MGM; 1975-UK)
“This one is for the Wayne completist who must see all of his 142 films.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The ailing 68-year-old John Wayne, in his third from last film, couldn’t make the transition from cowboy to modern-day urban cop as readily as Clint Eastwood did when he turned in his saddle to play Dirty Harry. This ho-hum police procedure thriller has Wayne as a Chicago police lieutenant in London with extra-diction papers to pickup bail jumper mobster kingpin fugitive Ben Larkin (John Vernon). Lt. Brannigan (John Wayne) is disappointed when Scotland Yard Commander Swann (Richard Attenborough) informs him that his man Ben Larkin was kidnapped and held for ransom. This gives the American icon a chance to be avuncular with the cute lady constable, Jenny (Judy Geeson), assigned to be his driver. The narrative moves along predictable lines with macho Duke smacking thugs around, carrying on about having to wear a tie to a swanky men’s club, taking in the usual tourist sights of London such as Piccadilly Circus, grousing over translation problems, and participating in a stupid barroom brawl that pays homage to the ones he did with John Ford.
There’s no conviction in the weak script that dies a slow death due to poor acting and how senseless it all is. Douglas Hickox directs in a professional but uninspired manner a witless film that goes by the numbers. Mel Ferrer is wasted playing Larkin’s mobster lawyer, who might be double crossing his client. As that’s the only thing we’re left guessing as the curtain closes in around the kingpin. The other sidelight is New Orleans hitman Gorman (Daniel Pilon) has been contracted by Larkin to take out Brannigan and tries many times throughout until he goes up in flames, in a most unimaginative way to send him to his Maker.
There’s not much here that is anything more than the usual TV crime story, that could have been knocked off in half an hour. This one is for the Wayne completist who must see all of his 142 films and keep this as a companion piece to his other copper film McQ.
REVIEWED ON 8/9/2005 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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