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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Big Jake [Blu-ray]


(George Sherman, 1971)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Batjac Productions

Video: Warner Home Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:49:45.366

Disc Size: 36,463,539,764 bytes

Feature Size: 34,951,440,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.43 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 31st, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2743 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2743 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1578 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1578 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 1071 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1071 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1065 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1065 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Portuguese 1073 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1073 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 1085 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1085 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 1030 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1030 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, none



• None





Description: Everyone seems to think that Jacob McCandles is six-feet under ("I thought you was dead" is a running line throughout), so some bad men kidnap his grandson. They want a piece of the family fortune and will kill to get it. Patrick Wayne, the Duke's own son, plays one of Big Jake's kids, and together they start out after the boy's abductors. Richard Boone makes a worthy adversary to Jake's larger than life figure, and the final confrontation between the two contains some great gritted-teeth dialogue. Maureen O'Hara is barely in the feature, sharing the same fate as Bobby Vinton as the boy's father. He seems to be onscreen just to get shot. - Keith Simanton at Amazon



The Film:

"Big Jake"? One guess. Big John Wayne, that's who, and the new picture would amount to familiar, Wayne-Western trivia except for the climax, a murderous pip. It happens lengthily and just in time.

Directed by George Sherman, the sequence is played to the hilt, as Big John, flanked by his son, Patrick, Chris Mitchum (Big Bob's boy) and Bruce Cabot (as an Indian) close in on the kidnappers of Wayne's movie grandson (his 8-year-old child, John Ethan Wayne). The shadowy stealth, a church tower, a killer Collie, a flashing machete and the spitting guns add up to a horrifying humdinger. Another Wayne son, Michael, is the producer.

Excerpt from Howard Thompson of the NY Times located HERE


Big Jake, released in 1971, is one of many westerns that ride the trail blazed by The Searchers, the 1956 classic by John Ford that some critics consider the genre's all-time-greatest film. Again the hero is played by John Wayne, and again he's a tumbling tumbleweed of a man who rediscovers family values when deadly marauders snatch an innocent child away from his kinfolk. There are major differences, though. This time the victim is a boy instead of a girl, the journey to find him lasts for days instead of years, and the villains are kidnappers demanding a huge ransom - the picture's working title was The Million Dollar Kidnapping - rather than Comanche warriors who induct the stolen youngster into their tribe.

The biggest difference between the two movies is that The Searchers was directed by John Ford, whereas Big Jake was directed by George Sherman, a veteran of many westerns but hardly a towering Hollywood figure. Sherman had directed Wayne in some of the "Three Mesquiteers" western programmers he made for Republic during the late 1930s, and Wayne invited him to direct Big Jake, produced by Wayne's own Batjac production company, as a sort of nostalgic reunion, even though Sherman was having health problems that forced Wayne to supervise much of the shooting himself.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Big Jake looks very strong on Blu-ray from Warner. Batjac produced 19-20 films, 8 of which starred Wayne with titles like "The High and the Mighty" and "Hondo" and other notable westerns include "Seven Men From Now" with Randolph Scott - as examples that have made it to DVD. After joining The Green Berets (January 2010) - I believe Big Jake - along with Rio Lobo - coming out at the same time - are numbers 2 and 3 to surface in 1080P. The image is a little glossy but still looks very strong with impressive detail. Colors are solid. This may be another title released because of the strength of its appearance (healthy source). Contrast, a factor of the sharpness, adds a lot to the image quality. Grain is even and doesn't texturize the visuals a lot. This Blu-ray has clean, crisp feel to it and supplies a rewarding scope presentation.




















Audio :

Big Jake offers two lossless original language tracks - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 (bump) at 2743 kbps and a strong stereo tracks at 1578 kbps. These push some depth and marginal separations from the Surround. Elmer Bernstein had some brilliant westerns scores - most notably The Magnificent Seven, but also The Comancheros. In Big Jake we hear some of his most aggressive and sweeping orchestral work and it comes through with notable intent via uncompressed. Wow. There are foreign language DUBs and optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Nothing included - not even a trailer. It's a shame this is a great tale - but the price reflects the lack of extras.



Great Wayne adventure in the latter part of his career. He could easily carry a film on his broad shoulders and this is well written (Harry Julian Fink and R.M. Fink's original story).  Classy Maureen O'Hara, craggy-faced Richard Boone and handsome Patrick Wayne (Duke's boy) give solid support all around - yes, that's Harry Carey Jr.! Western genre fans should indulge because of the impressive a/v transfer on Blu-ray and the above -average Wayne yarn. I wish they were all this good. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 25th, 2011


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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