Big Jim McLain (1952)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In this Cold War film, Big Jim McLain (John Wayne) and his partner Mal Baxter (Jim Arness) head to Hawaii to investigate a subversive pro-Communist organization. Feigning love for suspect Nancy Vallon (Nancy Olson), McLain ferrets out the name of the Big Cheese in charge of operations.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Western, Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: James Edward Grant, Richard English, Eric Taylor
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2007


as Jim McLain

as Nancy Vallon

as Mal Baxter

as Sturak

as Dr. Gelster

as Edwin White

as Robert Henried

as Lt. Cmdr. Clint Grey

as Mrs. Lexiter

as Mrs. Nomaka

as Honolulu Chief of Po...

as Mr. Lexiter (uncredi...

as Phil Briggs (as Red ...

as Mr. Nash

as Truckdriver

as McLain's Superior

as Uncredited

as Uncredited
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Big Jim McLain

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Pathetic anti-Communist propaganda film with a snarling John Wayne at his ugliest as a macho windbag special agent for HUAC.

Full Review… | July 28, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The name of Wayne's special agent for the HUAAC had the same initials as those of Senator Joseph McCarthy, which was not a coincidence, and Wayne himself believed that his popular propagandistic film helped McCarthy's reelection campaign.

Full Review… | May 27, 2006

Audience Reviews for Big Jim McLain

Big Jim McLain features one of John Wayne's best walk-through; he looks a little sheepish, but he's so amiable you forget he's really not in character. The drama at hand is tidied up rather quickly, yet the film is directed with a steady hand and has an easy-going pace.
The black-and-white cinematography is quite beautiful, with silvery shots of the tropics in all their '50s splendor.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Seeks to glorify the loathsome Joe McCarthy and his venal lot. Wayne was a well known ultra conservative so his presence here is no surprise but that this thing exists at all is a shame.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Nothing but a propaganda film promoting the agenda of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the time of McCarthyism. Now, I'm about as pro-America and anti-communist as a person can get, but even I found this film to be laughable, cheesy, and extremely heavy-handed with its political message, portraying communism as something like satanism (communism is bad, but it's not quite THAT bad), and casting the HUAC (often bad for America in its own way) in a downright heroic light.

Of course, having said all that, it's not fair to condemn this film without taking fully into account the time in which it was made. At the time of this movie's release, the Korean War was raging, America had lost its nuclear supremacy, Russia and China were being assholes, and all kinds of organizations within America itself (the ACLU, for instance) were hoping to see the White House painted red someday soon. All that doesn't change the fact that "Big Jim McLain" is a terrible movie, but it does help to put it into perspective somewhat.

Christopher Poole

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