Mark this down as a very entertaining western with more realistic gunfight scenes than most films, meaning the good guys get shot as well as the villains. John Wayne’s “The Searchers,” a very similar movie story-wise, gets a lot better press than this film but “Big Jake” is just as good, if not better.
To be fair, while the gunfights in here were well done, the fistfights were an insult. Whenever someone got slugged, such as Wayne belting his kids, it had no effect on them, except just to knock them down for a second or two. In real life, folks, chances are you will knocked unconscious if you are hit in the face, especially by a powerful man like Wayne. This has been a ludicrous fact-of-life, however, in all films for 100 years, not just here.
Other than that, the film is a straight hard-nosed one with Wayne and adversary Richard Boone both fascinating. The dialog between the two was especially fun to hear. Too bad there wasn’t more of it. Boone did not have enough lines in this film. Wayne’s real-life sons in this film didn’t impress me with their acting but they weren’t horrible either.
Bruce Cabot was a hoot as an old Indian friend of Wayne’s. As with most westerns, there is some nice scenery so if you have the opportunity, watch this on widescreen DVD. It was nice-looking movie.