Blu-ray: Brannigan (1975)
Chicago Police Lieutenant Jim Brannigan (John Wayne) is sent to London to escort American mobster Ben Larkin (John Vernon) back to the U.S.A., but this seemingly innocuous assignment soon becomes a matter of life and death as Brannigan battles his way through the London streets.
With Clint Eastwood a bonafide box office star by now, an ageing John Wayne was put into similar types of movies to extend his appeal to a new generation of moviegoers.
1974’s McQ was a nod to ‘Dirty Harry’, while Brannigan shows influences from Eastwood’s 1968 movie ‘Coogan’s Bluff‘, with both movies putting a lawman into an unfamiliar “fish out of water” situation, but then relishing in it.
Despite being in his late 60s, Wayne still holds an air of authority and intimidation about him, albeit a lot of it still being a holdover from his previous younger years in roles where he was the tall stoic hero. Having said that, his character still comes across as a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with, even though he would have qualified for a bus pass in the UK and could have travelled around London for free.
A fairly standard narrative is bolstered by an excellent cast that includes the aforementioned Wayne and Vernon, along with Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, Mel Ferrer, Lesley-Anne Down and more. All throwing themselves into their parts with gusto, including some very tongue in cheek scenes which help balance the more gritty action sequences.
The picture on this BFI Blu-ray is crisp and bright, supported by some great special features to dive into after you’ve finished watching the main feature.
- Presented in High Definition
- Audio commentary by Steve Mitchell and critic Nathaniel Thompson (2017)
- A Duke Out of Water (2023, 37 mins): reminiscences from the people who made Brannigan
- Frank Henson on Brannigan (2021, 4 mins): the veteran stuntman looks back on doubling the Duke
- Take It to the Bridge (1905-1956, 23 mins): historical glimpses of the Thames, Tower Bridge and other Brannigan locations
- A Policeman’s Lot (1896-1973, 35 mins): a copper’s clutch of films concerning crimefighters and crooks, proceeding from the very earliest days of cinema towards the Brannigan era
- The Guardian Interview: Richard Attenborough (1983, 88 mins, audio only): the award-winning actor and director, and John Wayne’s Brannigan co-star, reflects upon his illustrious career
- An extensive selection of location photographs, featuring cast and crew
- Original trailer
- ***First pressing only*** illustrated booklet with a new essay by Johnny Mains, a John Wayne biography by John Oliver, notes on the special features and film credits
Released August 21st.
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by the BFI.