Brannigan (1975)

Film and Plot Synopsis

In the era of Dirty Harry, John Wayne takes his turn as a “not by the book” police officer who will do almost anything to catch his bad guy. Wayne plays Jim Brannigan, a Chicago police detective who is on the hunt for a criminal who has skipped town on his bail, Ben Larkin. Brannigan learns that Larkin has been arrested in London, England and heads across the pond to bring back the gangster. However, Larkin posts his London bond and then is mysteriously kidnapped. Now, Brannigan has to find Larkin in an unfamiliar city and culture while being hunted himself by a hitman that Larkin has hired to kill him.

‘Brannigan’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Brannigan (1975)In 1970’s Chicago, Lieutenant James “Jim” Brannigan (John Wayne) is a tough as nails police detective on a manhunt. Brannigan is looking for gangster Ben Larkin (John Vernon) who has posted bail after being arrested by the detective. Brannigan “extracts” information from one of Larkin’s goons, Angell (Arthur Batanides), by threatening to kill the counterfeiter. Angell informs Brannigan that Larkin is on the run and has fled the country, but he does not give up the location of the gangster.

Immediately after the shakedown, Brannigan is directed by a patrol officer to contact Captain Moretti (Ralph Meeker). Moretti informs Brannigan that Larkin has been picked up on charges in London and dispatches Brannigan to London to retrieve the criminal and bring him back to Chicago for violating his release conditions. Meanwhile, Larkin posts his bond for the charges in London. Larkin is informed that Brannigan is in route to extradite him back to the United States. Larkin orders his men to take out a contract on Brannigan’s life which has already been done. Unbeknownst to Brannigan, he is being followed by a hitman by the name of Gorman (Daniel Pilon) on his trip from Chicago.

Not long after, Larkin is mysteriously kidnapped while at a health spa. The kidnappers manage to avoid being discovered by officers from Scotland Yard who have been tasked with keeping Larkin under surveillance. Simultaneously, Brannigan arrives in London and is picked up at the airport by a local police detective, Sergeant Jennifer Thatcher (Judy Geeson). Thatcher takes Brannigan to meet with the officer who is involved with the Larkin investigation, Commander Sir Charles Swann (Richard Attenborough), at a local men’s only club. Swann and Brannigan generally get along, but Swann warns Brannigan that he is breaking the local law by caring his firearm with him. Brannigan does not care.

The kidnappers contact Larkin’s attorney, Mel Fields (Mel Ferrer), and demand a ransom for the safe return of Larkin. Fields defies his client’s request to not involve the police and seeks the assistance of Scotland Yard. Swann agrees to help while Brannigan is more skeptical of the plot. The kidnappers cut off Larkin’s finger and send it to the police to show how serious they are. Fields agrees to drop the ransom money into a mailbox, but the kidnappers pull a switch and get away with the ransom money undetected.

In all my years at The Yard, I’ve never received a finger in the morning post. Commander Sir Charles Swann (Richard Attenborough)

At the same time, Gorman attempts to kill Brannigan by elaborate, but deadly means, including a shotgun bobby trap and an exploding toilet. However, Brannigan continues to foil the hitman’s attempts. Not long after, Brannigan and Thatcher contact Jimmy-the-Bet (Brian Glover), a town stoolie whose name Brannigan found in a notepad belonging to Larkin. Jimmy points them in the direction of another criminal named Drexel (Del Henney). Brannigan and Swann go to question Drexel and initiate a barroom brawl. A street criminal by the name of Charlie-the-Handle (James Booth) kills Drexel before the Chicago cop can get any meaningful information. Brannigan pursues Charlie in a car chase through the streets of London, but the killer successfully eludes capture.

Meanwhile, Swann follows another lead and interrogates another street criminal named Freddy (Anthony Booth). Freddy fingers Charlie as the man who hired him to secure plans for the underground. Brannigan recognizes Charlie as the man who killed Drexel. Later that night, Gorman attempts to shoot Brannigan outside of Thatcher’s home but mistakes Thatcher for Brannigan and nearly kills the London cop. Thatcher survives, but Gorman gets away.

Ultimately, the kidnappers demand more money for Larkin’s safe return as a consequence of Fields involving the police in the matter. A second ransom drop is arranged with Fields acting as the courier for a second time. Brannigan and Swann are suspicious of the plot and ask Fields to delay the drop for a few hours. After agreeing, Fields leaves with the money anyways, removing a police tracking device from his car before doing so. Fields drives to the outskirts of London and meets up with Larkin. It is revealed that Larkin staged his own kidnapping in a scheme to get the money. Fields kills the kidnappers, Charlie and Geef (Don Henderson), so that he and Larkin will be the only ones with the money.
Suddenly, Brannigan and Swann appear having secretly planted a second tracking device in the briefcase with the money. The two policemen arrest Fields and Larkin. As Brannigan goes to leave the scene with Thatcher, Gorman attempts to rundown Branigan and Thatcher with his car. Brannigan uses his gun and shots the hitman in the head, causing Gorman’s car to crash into the river and burst into flames. A short time later, Thatcher says goodbye to the American and Brannigan begins his trip safely back to Chicago in peace.

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Our Rating

United Artists released Brannigan on March 26, 1975. Douglas Hickox directed the film starring John Wayne, Richard Attenborough, and Judy Geeson.

User Rating: 2.38 ( 3 votes)
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