Back in the dog days of Watergate and the near end of the Vietnam War, “Death Wish” caught the public’s attention. It ran in theaters for a whole year. Can you name any recent films that ran that long?
Although novelist Brian Garfield condemned the film – it made no difference to the public. “Death Wish” would make its star Charles Bronson into a superstar. (Spawning four sequels.)
PLOT – Married couple Paul and Joanna Kersey are on their second honeymoon – their last happiness…
After returning to NYC, Kersey’s wife is killed and his daughter raped in a home invasion robbery. Kersey happens to be a pacifist, a “conscientious objector” who served as a medic in the Korean War. He still remembers how to handle a gun.
His revenge on muggers is gradual, but on the mean streets of New York, it doesn’t take long before he becomes known as “the vigilante, a hero to ordinary citizens.
What makes Death Wish special?
Direction by Michael Winner is slick, professional, potent. Despite being forty-two years old, this movie is not dated. The initial attack is savage and disturbing, foreshadowing what’s happening today.
Star Charles Bronson was a tough guy in real life. (Former coal miner and WWII Vet; winner of the Purple Heart.) Not like the limp-wristed punks in films today. Bronson appears quiet and intelligent. It’s great to see him take on the scum of the streets.
Co-star Hope Lange (at the time) was well known for her roles in movies (1950’s-60’s) and had finished starring in TV sitcoms “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and “The New Dick Van Dyke Show”. That’s why it was all the more horrific when she’s attacked by then unknown actor Jeff Goldblum.
Score by Herbie Hancock is almost futuristic, a sound that keeps it fresh and exciting.
In conclusion. Novelist Brian Garfield thought the character of Paul Kersey shouldn’t be made into a hero. I suspect the thought behind this is that this behavior causes imitators.
Text © 2016 – ERN