Category Archives: Bronson/Ireland

The Family (1970)

the family

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Hit man wants revenge.

Jeff (Charles Bronson) is a retired hit man who finds himself set-up and nearly killed by girlfriend Vanessa (Jill Ireland). When he unexpectedly survives the ambush he plots his revenge by planning on killing her as well as her secret lover who put her up to it, but along the way he becomes harassed by Al (Telly Savalas) who wants to bring Jeff into their crime organization any way they can.

The movie features a great acid rock-like soundtrack that pumps the adrenaline and gives the proceedings a nice edgy feel. The scene where Jeff shoots a man from a distance while the victim is participating in a car race and blowing out his tire, which sends him crashing through a brick wall, is creative. However, the best part of the whole movie, which comes at the end and almost makes sitting through it worth it, is watching two people getting shot as they ride up a glass elevator by a gunman sitting on top of a roof of a building from across the street.

On the whole though the film, which credits six writers to the screenplay and includes the legendary Lina Wertmuller is rather standard. Somehow it always seems the more people that work on the screenplay the less creative it becomes and this proves no exception. The characters are one-dimensional and the twists aren’t all that clever. Outside of the action sequences the story plods at too slow of a pace and you feel the whole time you are watching it that you’ve seen it all before.

For a savvy hit-man Jeff seems to be too much of a pushover. I can understand getting double-crossed once, but then he keeps going back to Vanessa and she does it to him again and again making him seem like a schmuck. The Vanessa character is equally annoying.  She is too wishy-washy and would have gotten a better emotional response from the viewer had she been better defined, or written as being a complete and total bitch.

Bronson is okay in the lead although he doesn’t have too much to say, which is good. His best moments come when he is silent particularly the scene inside the prison cell when he allows a giant tarantula spider to crawl all over him while he serenely sits smiling and the other prisoners look on with shock and awe.

Ireland looks great as always and shows a lot of skin. There is a scene where there is a close-up of her breasts as well as her backside while she is lying in bed. There is a moment of frontal nudity when she gets out of shower and she can be seen through the slightly fogged glass of the shower door. However, her face is always conveniently hidden during all of these shots making me believe that a body double was used although none is credited.

Savalas, who is the only one that gives the film any real energy, is wasted and doesn’t appear until the second half.

The complete and uncut version of the film done on the recent Blue Underground DVD release features scenes that were omitted from earlier English language prints. Unfortunately because these scenes where never dubbed into English they are shown in their original Italian language format. This becomes quite distracting as characters will be speaking in English and then during the same scene start talking in Italian and then back to English. The DVD features subtitles during these moments, but the version on Amazon Instant Video, which is what I saw, doesn’t. What is worse is the fact that these added scenes really don’t add much and they could have just been left on the cutting room floor. Fans will many times flock to purchase the ‘complete and uncut’ versions of films while failing to realize that there was probably a reason this extra footage was cut in the first place, which is namely that they were perceived as being boring or pointless and usually are.

If you are looking for non-think formula action that has just enough style to make it passable then this film should fit the bill, but it is no classic.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Alternate Title: Violent City

Released: September 17, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 49Minutes

Rated R

Director: Sergio Sollima

Studio: Universal Film

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video (as ‘Violent City’)

Chino (1973)

chino 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck and the kid.

Jamie (Vincent Van Patten) is a teen runaway in the old west that comes upon an isolated horse ranch run by Chino (Charles Bronson) who is ostracized by the locals for being a ‘half-breed’.  Chino reluctantly takes the boy under his wings and teaches him about how to take care of horses, but neither of them can completely escape the racism and hatred around them.

Filmed in Spain the rustic countryside has a certain visual appeal and the low-key music is a perfect score for this type of western. There is a barroom brawl and a shootout at the end, but overall this is standard stuff with little to help make it stand out. Everything this movie has to offer you’ve seen before and in most cases done better. That is not to say it is a bad movie, but it is lacking in imagination and seems content to simply borrow from an already overused formula. While the pacing isn’t exactly slow it isn’t compelling either. The characterizations, plot, and dialogue are held at the most simplistic level and if it weren’t for a brief bit of nudity by an attractive native woman I would almost say this thing was aimed solely for kids.

Bronson doesn’t show much range of emotion here and comes off in the wooden way his critics have always accused him of although he is still good in the action sequences. Jill Ireland’s appearance helps add a bit of life to the proceedings and the antagonistic banter that the two share while he tries to train her to ride a horse is fun to a minor extent as it the part where she walks in on him as he is standing buck-naked in a bathtub. However, having them fall in love so quickly and then want to get married is rushed and forced.

It is fun seeing Vincent Van Patten as a young teen, but his interaction with Bronson is dull. Their eventual ‘bonding’ is formulaic and clichéd and only helps in cementing this as a forgettable, pointless, low-budget foray.

The real stars of the picture are the horses that show much more of a screen presence than their human counterparts. In fact during the first half you see more of them than the people, which is just as well. There is even a shot showing two of them mating, which is the film’s sole unique moment and for some possibly even the highpoint.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: September 14, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 37Minutes

Rated PG

Director: John Sturges

Studio: Intercontinental Releasing Corporation

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Breakheart Pass (1976)

breakheart pass 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck’s on a train.

John Deacon (Charles Bronson) is a prisoner on a train headed Fort Humboldt. The train is carrying medical supplies to help the people there who are suffering from a plague outbreak. Amongst the passengers on the train is a Governor (Richard Crenna) a U.S. Marshal (Ben Johnson), a priest (Bill McKinney) and a load of Calvary soldiers, but as the ride progresses strange things begin to happen. People disappear and then turn up dead. Everyone seems to have a secret to hide and what is inside the boxes labeled medical supplies isn’t medicine.

This is the first Bronson/Ireland production to be given a big budget and the wintry Rocky Mountain landscape is sumptuous. The plot itself is intriguing and full of interesting twists that grabs you right from the start and keeps you enthralled until the end. Based on the Alister Maclean novel who also wrote the script it is no surprise that it seems more like a spy/espionage thriller than a conventional western yet there is enough gritty elements to keep it passable at both ends. The mixture of the two genres is unique and exciting and for a bubblegum actioner this one hits the mark.

The stuntwork is impressive and one of the film’s highpoints. Some of the best moments are when a man is thrown from a train and you see him fall from a bridge all the way to the river below. What makes this stand out is that the conventional, lightweight mannequin was thankfuly not used. Instead it looks like a real human body that even thumps along the wooden posts of the bridge as it goes down making it vivid. Watching the trainload of soldiers spiral off the tracks and go crashing along the mountainside has the same realistic quality. The fight on top of one of the snowy train cars between Bronson and former boxer Archie Moore is well choreographed and the scene of a telegraph operator getting a bullet shot through his head is surprisingly graphic.

The supporting cast is good and for a while they outshine Bronson who seems in a way outclassed by their colorful personalities and different acting styles. However, as it evolves Bronson comes into his own and it becomes a lot of fun watching the way he singlehandedly outsmarts and outmuscles all of them.

Ireland is beautiful as always and manages to hold her own to the otherwise all male cast. The music becomes an excellent added element. The booming orchestral sound of the opening theme is reminiscent of ones used in classic westerns. The unique score played whenever the Indians appear on screen has an interesting beat and sound. This is an entertainment winner for not only Bronson fans, but for action lovers as well.

breakheart pass 1

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 25, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Tom Gries

Studio: United Artists

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Valachi Papers (1972)

the valachi papers 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Testifying against the mob.

Based on the bestselling novel by Peter Maas this film chronicles the life of Joseph Valachi (Charles Bronson) who became the very first informant for the Mafia in their history. The story chronicles his life from a young man getting involved in the mafia culture to his eventual imprisonment and testifying in front of congress.

At the time of release this was compared closely to The Godfather with some critics outrageously saying it was better, but clearly it doesn’t come close. This film lacks the in-depth characterizations, lyrical quality, and an overall slick design. This film is also rather sloppily produced including one scene involving an exciting car chase taking place in the 1930’s. When the two cars go crashing through the wall of a warehouse and into the East river one can clearly see the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, which weren’t built until 1970. There is also the Lucky Luciano character played by actor Angelo Infanti who wears a type of glasses that did not come into style until well into the 1970’s. However, as a whole the film is still amazingly compelling flick that ends up being both entertaining and somewhat informative. The music score has a terrific ominous tone to it and the prison scenes have a nice starkness.

The film was known at the time for its violence, which by today’s standards may not seem quite as startling or as excessive although the blood and bullets do come at regular intervals. My favorite was the shooting of an old crime boss inside a barbershop although the castration of a victim on top of a table inside a restaurant is pretty wild. However, for all of its violence the film does manage to have a sense of humor as well including a very amusing scene where one of Joe’s mob bosses sits in the living room of the mother of Joe’s girlfriend and asks the mother for her permission to allow Joe to marry her daughter while Joe sits nervously behind and tries to look proper.

Lino Ventura has the perfect face of a mob boss and was ideally cast. The scene of him inside the prison where he has stays in a well-furnished cell and even seems to have his own barber is funny. Joseph Wiseman displays great zest as the opposing crime boss Salvatore Maranzano and his agonizing yells of pain as he lies dying are effective.

Bronson seems perfectly cast as an uneducated simple man who is a follower and has his own quiky code of morality, which makes him strangely endearing. His wife Jill Ireland does not fare as well. She ports a brunette wig and her Italian accent borders on being horrendous to non-existent. Fortunately she is not given very many speaking lines as her British accent is constantly seeping through.

In many ways this film could best be described as an ugly cousin to Goodfellas. While this film lacks that film’s fluid directorial flair it still manages to be an engrossing true-life gangster soap opera like that one.

the valachi papers 2

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Runtime: 2Hours 5Minutes

Released: November 3, 1972

Rated R

Director: Terence Young

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD

Breakout (1975)

breakout

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Escape from Mexican jail.

Loosely based on the actual 1971 incident involving Joel David Kaplan, who after being framed for murder and stuck inside a Mexican prison for 9 years, was able to escape when his sister hired a pilot to fly a helicopter into the prison yard and allow Kaplan to jump into it and flee. In this movie Jay Wagner (Robert Duvall) is the Kaplan character and Nick Colton (Charles Bronson) is the goofy, but lovable pilot.

Veteran director Tom Gries delivers a compact action pic that has a good mix of humor and excitement. The comedy is not forced and genuinely engaging, but once the action gets going it is entertaining as well. When the helicopter starts flying into the prison with 30 minutes left in the movie I found myself completely riveted. Gries photographs the action in a way that makes the viewer feel like they are inside the helicopter alongside Bronson. The stunts are authentic and done on-location, which is a big plus. One scene involving a man getting sliced up by an airplane propeller is surprisingly explicit and should make anyone wince when they see it.

My only quibble in the direction department is the opening where a man is shown being shot to death while Gries freezes the frame every few seconds as the victim falls down, which came off as being disjointed and distracting. There is also a shot of the dead body lying on the ground with blood stains on his white shirt. However, there are no bullet holes in his shirt and you really can’t have blood coming out of someone’s body unless you have bullet holes and if you have them piercing the skin you most likely would have them piercing the shirt, but none were found in the shot I saw.

Bronson is highly engaging and steals every scene that he is in. I was surprised how comfortable he was in a comedic role and it made me wish he had taken more stabs at comedy in his career. My favorite moment with him is his nervous, anxiety-ridden expression on his face when he tries to pilot a helicopter and finds that it is much more complicated than he realized. The running gag of him trying to pass off a bad check is also good.

Jill Ireland who plays the wife of the Duvall character and is the one who hires Nick for the job is also enjoyable. She is almost as amusing as Bronson especially with the way she becomes increasingly exasperated by the situation. The two seem to work better when they are adversarial and you could never tell that in real life they were husband and wife.

Sheree North is also great in a small supporting role. Although she was already in her 40’s when she did the part she still looks sexy in a full body shot of her in some really, really short shorts. Her very politically incorrect rape conversation that she has with Nick is good.

Duvall is wasted in a part that doesn’t allow for much range and limited screen time. I’m actually surprised that he even took the part. However, his hair style, and I’m not sure if it was a wig, or just a really good comb-over, but it completely covers up his normally bald head and makes him look twenty years younger.

Randy Quaid seems equally underused, but having the chance at seeing him in drag may make his appearance here worth it to some.

I didn’t like the part where Duvall gets buried alive while inside a coffin in his attempt to escape as it is too reminiscent of a classic Alfred Hitchcock episode entitled ‘Final Escape’, which is better and shouldn’t be touched. However, as a whole, this is a good 95 minutes of enjoyable non-think entertainment.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: May 22, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Tom Gries

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Rider on the Rain (1970)

rider on the rain

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck is in control. 

Supposedly the inspiration of The Doors song ‘Riders on the Storm’ this stylish mystery deals with Mela (Marlene Jobert) a beautiful young woman who finds herself being stalked by a strange bald headed man carrying a mysterious red bag. He follows her to her home where he then rapes her. She manages to get her hands on one of her husband’s rifles and shoots the man dead. She throws his dead body over a cliff and into the sea where she thinks that will be the end of it, but then an American by the name of Harry Dobbs (Charles Bronson) shows up who seems to know all about it and will not leave Mela alone until she confesses to the whole thing.

Director Rene Clement is a master at his craft. Every shot and scene has an evocatively stylish flair particularly at the beginning. The lighting, camera work, editing, and moody score by Francis Lai are first rate and help grab the viewer in right away and keep them hooked. There are strong shades of Hitchcock, but like with Hitch the performers become nothing more than pawns to the director’s vision. The actors seem a bit stifled and unable to create any nuance to their characters. Everything is done to propel the story, which is fine, but sometimes expanding the scenes to allow the actor’s to expound more gives a film a fresh and natural flow, which is lacking here. The rape sequence relies almost completely on the breathing sounds of Mela and some interesting edits, which I felt was good, but it could have been even more provocative and cutting edge had this part been extended and a little more graphic.

While the script by Sebastien Japrisot is full of intriguing twists and nicely complex the middle part dealing with Harry’s seemingly unending interrogation of Mela goes on much too long and bogs things down. I would have liked to have seen a little more variation of their roles where at times Mela would get the upper-hand, but for the most part Harry remains in complete control and Mela is dominated and confused throughout, which isn’t as interesting.

rider on the rain 2

Jobert is sexy and adds a definite sparkle to the film. Normally I prefer women with long hair, but her short cut gives her a youthful appeal. Her blue emerald-like eyes make a great contrast to her reddish hair and her freckles helps accentuate the youthful and naïve quality of the character. Her husband Tony played by Gabriele Tinti, has the chiseled boyish looks of a male model with a pair of baby blue eyes that is almost as stunning as Marlene’s making this couple enjoyable to watch for their looks alone for both male and female viewers.

Bronson is at his tough guy best. He takes on seven men in a room and kicks their ass without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately that is all the action that there is and there needed to be more of it. Jill Ireland appears briefly as a character that has little to do with the plot, but looks gorgeous nonetheless.

The film’s final plot twist is rather boring and the conclusion is weak and non-eventful. Mystery fans may enjoy the film’s winding story, but Bronson enthusiasts will be disappointed at the film’s lack of action.

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My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: January 21, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 55Minutes

Rated R

Director: Rene Clement

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD

From Noon Till Three (1976)

from noon til 3 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: This western gets weird.

Graham (Charles Bronson) is a part of a four member bank robbing gang on their way to another hold-up. Before they get there Graham’s horse gets injured and has to be shot. Later on they come upon an isolated mansion sitting all alone in the rolling hills of the west. The gang asks the woman owner Amanda (Jill Ireland) if she has a horse for sale. She says no despite the fact that she does, so Graham stays with her while the other three rides off to rob the bank and assures them they will be back with the money at three. During this time Graham and Amanda fall in-love and when three o’clock hits everything goes off-kilter featuring one wild twist after another in this highly unusual one-of-a-kind western.

This film is so offbeat it is hard to describe any of the twists without giving too much away however, after a rather slow start it does become entertaining in a quirky sort of way and filled with amusingly ironic twists. Writer/director Frank D. Gilroy seems to be challenging himself at coming up with one weird plot device after another and keeping the viewer off balance throughout. While this is basically fun it does end up making it more like a gimmick than an actual plot driven, character motivated movie. Categorizing this more as a fable or fairy tale might be more accurate and Elmer Bernstein’s playful, lighthearted score helps cement this.

Bronson is amazingly game for the offbeat material that goes completely against his persona. The change of pace is refreshing and although the part does not call for any great acting range he is still quite engaging and endearing. The part where he talks to Amanda about his inability to ‘get it up’ and the erectile dysfunction that he has suffered from for the past seven years is priceless as is the scene where years later when he meets Amanda again and he unzips his pants and takes out is shriveled penis to show her in order for her to recognize him.

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Ireland is good and I loved the variety of dresses that she wears and hairstyle that is put up into a bun. This may be her best performance of her career and certainly the best one that she did with Chuck. She actually becomes the star of the story and even ends up with more screen time than him. As an added treat she sings the film’s closing song over the credits, which she does quite well.

I loved the image of this big mansion all alone in an otherwise stark and barren landscape, which has definite shades of Days of Heaven to it. I was interested in knowing if this was an actual house and where it was located, but the closing credits stated that the entire production was filmed at the Warner Brothers studios in Burbank California making it pretty clear that the home was just a prop built for the movie and most likely torn down after filming, which is a shame.

It is clear visually that Gilroy’s background was more in the writing end than in directing. While the story is full of unbridled wackiness the camera angles, editing, and staging is dull. There is also an opening segment where the men ride up on horseback to the bank and sky is completely cloudy. Then as the camera cuts to show them getting off their horses the sky is now suddenly sunny without a cloud in it. I realize most scenes are not shot in synchronized order and it is hard when filming outdoors to make the weather cooperate, so I am usually forgiving in this area, but this did seem extreme.

If you are in the mood for something different this novelty may do the trick and Bronson fans will be interested in seeing their favorite star in a more lighthearted type of role. The movie also makes a great statement at how the legend can sometimes overshadow the reality and at how people will sometimes perceive things the way they want to see them as opposed to the way they really are.

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My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: August 8, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Frank D. Gilroy

Studio: United Artists

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Cold Sweat (1970)

cold sweat

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck won’t be intimidated.

Joe Martin (Charles Bronson) is a man living with a past. Ten years earlier he was part of a prison break led by corrupt Captain Ross (James Mason). Joe was selected as the getaway driver, but after he witnesses one of them kill a police man he decides to drive off with the car and strand the others. Now he is living the quiet life in the south of France with his new wife Fabienne (Liv Ullmann) and her daughter Michele (Yannick Delulle), but as he starts to settle into his new lifestyle he finds that the old gang has tracked him down. They want him to be the boat driver in a drug deal they have planned and they won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Fabienne and her daughter Michele are brought along for collateral, but Joe has a trick up his sleeve and instead kidnaps Ross’s girlfriend Moira (Jill Ireland) and puts her in an isolated cabin and when all parties converge onto the place is when the tensions and action boils over.

This is a simple film with the most basic of storylines. The characterizations are standard with no gray areas in-between. The good guys are really good and the bad guys really bad and nothing is ever nebulous as the tried and true formula gets followed from beginning to end. However, I liked it. Sometimes it is nice to have a film that isn’t trying to reinvent the genre and does things in a compact, crackling non-think style where the viewer can sit back and enjoy an old fashioned white knuckler without having to be challenged. After a slightly awkward start the film begins to roll and then never lets up. Chuck puts his gruff, stoic caricature to the hilt here helping propel the viewer emotionally into the action as he finds increasingly novel ways to overpower the baddies just as the odds look stacked against him.

Having him married to Ullmann was offbeat casting, but it works. Ullmann who has quite possibly one of the most expressive faces in all of cinema seems game for the proceedings. It was nice seeing her in something different than a brooding Ingmar Bergman drama. She gets right into the fray and becomes an integral part of the story and succeeds quite well.

The always reliable and many times brilliant Mason sports an American accent and its fun. He also takes part in a great death scene that gets amazingly prolonged until his increasingly pale complexion becomes genuinely disturbing.

Ireland shows flair as a jaded hippie type. Her and Chuck’s sparring clicks and casting the real-life couple as characters with animosity for the other is cute. I just wished that director Terence Young had played it up more and given Ireland more screen time.

Having the second half of the film take place almost exclusively at an isolated locale gives the picture added personality, but what impressed me the most was the action. In particular was a car chase along the long, winding French roads. I know the car chases in Bullitt and The French Connection get the honors for having the best and most famous chase sequences, but the one here comes amazingly close. I found myself turning uncomfortably in my seat as Chuck’s car travels each curve at high speeds and when he takes the auto off the road and onto the rugged terrain I was out of breath. The foot chase between Fabienne and her daughter and one of the lone gunmen along the ragged, rocky landscape is equally exciting and well captured at different angles.

This one is sure to please Bronson fans as it has all the ingredients his films are known for. My only complaint is with the DVD transfer available on Amazon Instant. Normally I love the way Amazon has made available films that are hard or even impossible to find and most of the time picture quality is decent to good, but here it looks like someone’s old home movie with a color that is faded and at certain spots completely washed out. It also very grainy and looks like it was taken from an old film stock, or lost VHS tape. The less than ideal presentation unfairly taints what is otherwise a solid production that deserves a much better looking reissue.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 18, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Terence Young

Studio: Fair Film

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Someone Behind the Door (1971)

someone behind the door 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck has no memory.

This review will kick-off a two month long tribute to movies done in the 70’s by Charles Bronson with his wife Jill Ireland. Each Friday I will review one of their films, which will run through April. The only ones that will not be reviewed during this stretch are Love and Bullets, which was already done during our January tribute to Rod Steiger and The Mechanic and Hard Times, which will be done at a later time.

This film is one of the more unusual ones that they did and although not completely successful may still interest Bronson fans simply for a chance at seeing him in an offbeat part. The story concerns neurosurgeon Laurence Jeffries (Anthony Perkins) who takes in a man (Charles Bronson) who has lost his memory and has no idea who he is. Laurence decides to exploit this issue by brainwashing the man into thinking that Laurence’s cheating wife Frances (Jill Ireland) is actually his own and to take action by killing the woman’s lover (Henri Garcin).

The film has a great idea, but the set-up is much too rushed. We are given no backstory to any of the characters. The film opens with Laurence leaving his hospital job and by chance bumping into the man and taking him home before we even know what his motive or plan is. I also found it a bit perplexing that the Dr. character is supposedly conniving and crafty and yet he brings a man into his house while his wife is there sleeping in another room as well as their maid downstairs, which seemed reckless. When his wife awakens the next day and tries to go into the room where the stranger is Laurence panics, but I felt he should have been aware of that potentially happening from the very beginning. He also dictates his plans into a tape recorder, which seemed like prime material to be used for evidence later on.

The psychological side of the story is shallow and transparent. The way Laurence tricks the man into doing his evil bidding was too easy. I realize that the man has lost his memory, but it seems like he has lost his entire brain as well. The character is too child-like and gullible. I also thought that if the man cannot remember his wife and doesn’t know her from anyone else then why would he care if she is fooling around with someone, or get so over-the-top angry about it.

Bronson can be perfect in certain roles, but this is not one of them. Yes, he has a certain likable quality here simply because he plays such a vulnerable and trusting wide-eyed innocent, but the angry emotions that he displays are too rehearsed and over-acted.

Ireland on the other hand is attractive and alluring and comes off well though her part is minimal.  The nude photograph of her lying on a sofa that is shown in close-up is sexy.

The film has very little action especially for a Bronson vehicle though the part where the Bronson character sexually attacks Ireland and then the film intercuts this with him simultaneously attacking another woman on a lonely beach is interesting. The ending though is pathetic as it leaves everything wide-open while resolving nothing. The sequence where the camera cuts quickly back and forth between Perkin’s face and then Ireland’s, which is shown continuously over the closing credits is irritating and almost like the filmmaker’s wanted to drive the viewer as crazy as the kooky characters.

With that said I still found the film to be entertaining most of the way. The idea is a fascinating one and it kept me guessing throughout. Director Nicholas Gessner does an adequate job of taking advantage of the gray countryside to create a nice moody feel. A definite mixed bag.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: July 28, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 33Minutes

Rated R

Director: Nicholas Gessner

Studio: Lira Films

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Love and Bullets (1979)

love and bullets

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Chuck falls for Jill.

Jackie Pruit (Jill Ireland) the one-time girlfriend of mob boss Joe Bomposa (Rod Steiger) is being marked for death by him as she has the potential to turn states evidence. Undercover cop Charlie Congers (Charles Bronson) is hired to go to Switzerland and nab her before they do so that he can bring her back to the states and allow her to testify for the FBI, but along the way he ends up falling in love with her.

Ireland and Bronson where married in real-life, which is why this is just one of many movies that they did together during the 70’s. The strange thing is that they really don’t seem to have much chemistry. Bronson is much older and has more of a grounded, stoic personality while Ireland, at least here, comes off as ditzy and flighty making it seem more like a father and daughter relationship than two equal adults.  The ditzy behavior of Ireland’s character is not amusing or interesting and eventually becomes annoying making most men want to kill her instead of falling for her. Her character initially wears a wig and gaudy make-up, but Charlie insists that she take it off and when she does he states that she looks much better, but personally I thought she looked better with it on.

For whatever reason the Bronson character does not use a gun and is required to resort to unusual weapons for defense one of them being a standing lamp that he finds in a hotel room. He takes off the top and bottom of it and then uses the middle part as a pipe in which he blows nails through to kill off the bad guys. Initially this seemed like a neat idea, but I found it hard to believe that he would have such good aim and able to hit victims from several yards away. He also makes himself highly conspicuous walking around the busy streets of Zurich carrying a pipe.

Steiger gives another interesting performance. Although his character is the villain Steiger manages to give him depth and a humanistic quality. He speaks with a stutter and wears big glasses making him seem almost like a lovable galoot. The part where he stresses over ordering the hit on Jackie and at the end when he sits alone watching a classic romantic movie and insists that he not be interrupted for any reason are two of his best moments.

The supporting cast is full of familiar faces, but Bradford Dillman and Henry Silva are wasted and Michael V. Gazzo gets killed off too quickly. Paul Koslo has the perfect face for a cold-blooded hit man and it is neat seeing Strother Martin dive into the water because in his younger years before he got into acting he was a gifted diver and almost even made it onto the Olympic team. His death scene is good because it is done from his perspective as he is pushed under water giving the viewer a definite drowning feeling.

The action and story are standard and the scenic wintry landscape of Switzerland can help it only so much. The explosive finale gives it a few points, but the drama is weak and the action is only fair. Nothing real impressive and made for die-hard action fans only.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: September 14, 1979

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

Studio: AFD

Available: VHS, DVD (Region 2), Amazon Instant Video