From Monthly Film Bulletin, July, 1975, p. 151



[Webmistress's Note:  This review has been retyped here exactly as it was typed in the original, including a serious mistake in the middle of the second paragraph.  The sentence that begins "Brannigan spends most of its time..." seems to end at the phrase "opposite number from Scotland" and then immediately jumps into the middle of some other sentence:  "strip style of its opening in Chicago...."  The location of the problem is indicated with [sic].--db]



Great Britain, 1975

Director:  Douglas Hickox

Cert--A.  dist--United Artists.  p.c.--Wellborn.  For United Artists.  exec. p--Michael Wayne.  p--Jules Levy, Arthur Gardner.  p. manager--Geoffrey Haine.  asst. d--Ted Sturgis, Bill Westley.  sc--Chrisopher Trumbo, Michael Butler, William P. McGivern, William Norton.  story--Christopher Trumbo, Michael Butler.  ph--Gerry Fisher.  Panavision.  col--DeLuxe.  ed--Malcolm Cooke.  a.d--Ted Marshall.  set dec--Josie MacAvin.  sp. effects--Roy Whybrow.  m--Dominic Frontier.  sd. ed--Les Wiggins.  sd. rec--Simon Kaye.  sd. re-rec--Gerry Humphries.  stunt co-ordinator--Peter Brayham.  l.p--John Wayne (Lieutenant Jim Brannigan), Richard Attenborough (Commander Sir Charles Swann), Judy Geeson (Detective Sergeant Jennifer Thatcher), Mel Ferrer (Mel Fields), John Vernon (Ben Larkin), Daniel Pilon (Gorman), John Stride (Inspector Traven), James Booth (Charlie), Del Henney (Drexel), Lesley Ann Down (Luana), Barry Dennen (Julian), Anthony Booth (Freddy), Brian Glover (Jimmy the Bet), Ralph Meeker (Captain Moretti), Jack Watson (Carter), Arthur Batanides (Angell), Steward Bevan (Alex), Kathryn Leigh Scott (Miss Allen), Don Henderson (Geef), Charles Pemberton (Arthurs), Tim Barlow (Customs Inspector), Steve Kelly (Gates), Mike Crane (Boyle), Peter Porteous (Masseur), Tony Robinson (Messenger), Pauline Delaney (Mrs. Cooper), Janette Legge, Enid Jaynes.  9,961 ft.  111 mins.


Sent from Chicago to London to pick up fleeing gangster Ben Larkin, Lieutenant Jim Brannigan finds that his quarry, put under surveillance by Scotland Yard chief Sir Charles Swann, has been mysteriously kidnapped.  Shortly afterwards, Larkin's lawyer, Mel Fields brings the police a tape on which the kidnappers demand L250,000 to be left in special envelopes in a Piccadilly Circus mailbox.  Stalking out the mailbox and eventually following the messenger who collects the envelopes from a post office, Brannigan and Swann find that they have been duped--the real envelopes have been removed by way of a sewage tunnel and a hole drilled in the bottom of the pillar-box.  A hired assassin, Gorman, has meanwhile arrived to dispose of Brannigan; his first attempts fail and when Brannigan is moved to a flat in the house of Jennifer Thatcher, the policewoman assigned to look after him in London, Gorman almost kills her by mistake.  Swann and Brannigan trace the way the sewage plans were sold to the kidnappers, and identify their leader, Charlie; a further link in the chain, Drexel, is eliminated by Gorman, whom Brannigan then narrowly loses in a frantic car chase.  Fields arrives with another ransom demand, but made suspicious by news he has received from the States of Fields' recent stock market losses, Brannigan has a tracking device planted on him when he goes to deliver the money.  Bursting into the kidnappers' hideout, the police find that Fields and Larkin arranged the kidnapping in order to finance the latter's escape to South America; Charlie and his associate Geef, hired to do the kidnapping, have been shot.  Brannigan is then subjected to a last desperate assault by Gorman, whom he kills.  Jennifer later sees him off from London.


"I'm going to miss this old town," announced John Wayne at the end of this London-based sally into Coogan's Bluff-Dirty Harry territory.  But amongst the multitude of cliches offered by Brannigan, this one actually has the ring of truth, considering that the film has contrived to give both star and audience as complete as possible a tour of the city.  And when not making tiresome, overstated work of his sight-seeing (or of his action set-pieces), Douglas Hickox directs in a busy but characterless style that probably has more in common with his numerous commercials than with the distinctive comic Gothic effects of Theatre of Blood.  After a sleek recapping of the Clint Eastwood formula in a credits sequence that is all caressing close-ups of the hero's prized revolver, Brannigan spends most of its time hastily backpedalling in order to find some comfortable, old-fashioned niche in the formula for its star (with Wayne's performance inevitably giving a slowed-down, senior citizen look to his abrasive partnership with his opposite number from Scotland [sic] strip style of its opening in Chicago, in fact, the film becomes more and more of a throwback, in everything from Brannigan's chaste relationship with his Girl Friday, the policewoman assigned to chauffeur him around the city ("It'll make a change from the vice squad") and to offer incidental reassurance ("You're so...solid", to his abrasive partnership with his opposite number from Scotland Yard.  Richard Attenborough's titled copper is required for a while to trade transatlantic verbal punches with Brannigan (this isn't Chicago, he protests after the hero has just put Tower Bridge on the map of Great Car Chases) but quickly capitulates to his opponent's monolithic charm and settles into a performance cosily reminiscent of Thirties movie copperdom.


--Richard  Combs