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Top Ten Tuesday: Charles Bronson

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Charles Bronson was the unlikeliest of movie stars. Of all the leading men in the history of Hollywood, Charles Bronson had the least range as an actor. He rarely emoted or even changed his expression, and when he did speak, his voice was a reedy whisper. But Charles Bronson could coast on presence, charisma, and silent brooding menace like no one’s business and he wound up the world’s most bankable movie star throughout most of the 1970’s. Bronson did not rise quickly in the Hollywood ranks. His film debut was in 1951 and he spent the next two decades as a solid character actor with a rugged face, muscular physique and everyman ethnicity that kept him busy in supporting roles as indians, convicts, cowboys, boxers, and gangsters. It wasn’t until he was in his late 40’s, after the international success of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST in 1968 (American audiences wouldn’t embrace him until DEATH WISH became a hit five years later) that he became a worldwide megastar. A man of few words onscreen and off, Bronson was never a critic’s darling and he had no illusions about his own stardom. “I don’t make movies for critics,” he once said “since they don’t pay to see them anyhow.” Charles Bronson appeared in 93 films in his five decades as an actor, and here are his ten best (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE DIRTY DOZEN and THE GREAT ESCAPE should make the cut, but in those films Bronson is part of large ensemble casts so I’ve excluded them here).

10. DEATH WISH 3

The wonderfully preposterous DEATH WISH 3 (1985) sends Charles Bronson to a New York City portrayed as a vast burned-out wasteland with tenements occupied by terrified old people and the entire city dominated by gangs of unwashed thugs (and not a cop in sight). I’ve seen DEATH WISH 3 many times over the years and it becomes funnier as it ages. The action is overblown to comic proportions and I lose count of all the people who are shot, blown up, stabbed, beaten, pushed off of rooftops, and generally maimed during the course of the film. DEATH WISH 3 plays like Charles Bronson’s 90-minute shooting gallery. Thugs pop up from behind cars, buildings, and storefronts, all to be mowed down in a sea of gunfire and the last half hour is pure madness. Bronson, usually a silent killer in his films, makes all kinds of humorous quips before letting loose the carnage and DEATH WISH 3, the last of six movies Bronson made for British director Michael Winner, is the best of the four DEATH WISH sequels.

09. RIDER ON THE RAIN

In the 1970 French noir RIDER ON THE RAIN from director René Clément, Charles Bronson played Harry Dobbs, an undercover US Army Colonel in France trying to track down an escaped sex maniac. Marlene Jobert played a rape victim who manages to kill her attacker and, in a panic, disposes of the corpse. What follows is a tense cat-and-mouse scenario between these two full of humor and style. Wearing a mischievous smile throughout RIDER ON THE RAIN, Bronson manages an odd suggestion of sadism and romance, a mysterious figure that enhances the mystery. A suspenser in the Hitchcock mold, RIDER ON THE RAIN won the Golden Globe award in 1970 as Best Foreign Film and was an breakthrough film in Charles Bronson’s career — it was a enormous success all over the world (except the U.S.) and was his first hit where he carried the lead after gaining fame in the ensemble action films. In the French language version of RIDER ON THE RAIN, Bronson’s voice is dubbed while in the English version, everyone’s voice except Bronson’s is dubbed. I prefer the English version. Note the American RIDER ON THE RAIN movie poster with a shirtless Bronson manhandling Ms. Jobert. It’s one of my very favorite Bronson posters even though there’s no scene in the movie remotely like it. Artist Basil Gogos, best known for his many covers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, did this painting. I had Gogos autograph my poster and he recalled that Bronson refused to sign off on the image until he went back in and added more veins in his muscles.

08. MURPHY’S LAW

MURPHY’S LAW (1986) was from Bronson’s “crotchety old man” late period where in every film he seemed tired, impatient, and pissed off like he did not want to be there, an attitude that worked perfectly for Bronson’s Jack Murphy. A washed-up, alcoholic cop who rubs everyone the wrong way and vice versa, Murphy’s framed for the murder of his ex-wife, so goes on the run accompanied by a foulmouthed punkette handcuffed to his wrist. The body count is high, Bronson throws off more pre-kill one-liners than usual (As a female villain falls to her death, she screams “Go to hell!” so Bronson politely replies “Ladies first!”), and MURPHY’S LAW is a hugely entertaining 80’s actioner. But what really elevates MURPHY’S LAW are the supporting performances by a diverse trio of actresses. Angel Tompkins, a sexy blonde starlet who had a run of leads in mid-70’s Drive-In classics like THE TEACHER (1974), is Murphy’s stripper ex-wife. Kathleen Wilhoite as his surly teenage captive spends the entire film spitting out such vulgar insults as “You snot-licking donkey fart.” and “Suck a doorknob, you homo!” but an odd friendship develops between her and Bronson that’s nice to watch. Best is Carrie Snodgress, a severe, husky-voiced actress who’d been nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE but whose career never took off. Her vengeful, psychopathic villainess in MURPHY’S LAW is one scary psycho and she’s the perfect foil for Bronson, whose own Murphy’s law in this case is simply “Don’t fuck with Jack Murphy!” MURPHY’S LAW was Charles Bronson’s last really great movie.

07. THE VALACHI PAPERS

Charles Bronson aged 40 years in the 1972 gangster film THE VALACHI PAPERS as Joe Valachi, the real-life stoolie who spilled his guts about the inner workings of the mafia and whose tale had been told in a popular book by Peter Maas. Presented in flashback and book-ended by Valachi’s time in prison, THE VALACHI PAPERS details his story as told to a U.S. Federal Agent about his work in the New York underworld from the 1920’s to the 60’s starting as a low-level hood and moving quickly to top soldier. Though over two hours in length, THE VALACHI PAPERS brutally barrels through Valachi’s life, barely pausing when comrades and family members die violently and hits a lot of shocking notes, including a memorably bloody barber chair cut-down and a nasty castration. THE VALACHI PAPERS was discounted as an inferior THE GODFATHER knockoff when that film became such a huge hit, but THE VALACHI PAPERS was actually filmed in Italy concurrently with Coppola’s film and released in Europe earlier. While not as stylish or well-written as THE GODFATHER, it does have similar scope and period detail. Director Terence Young, best known for helming three of the Connery 007 films, had just directed Bronson in COLD SWEAT and RED SUN and gets from his star an atypically complex performance. Poorly received in 1972, and somewhat forgotten in the wake of THE GODFATHER, THE VALACHI PAPERS is an epic crime saga worth seeking out and the DVD released a couple of years ago restores footage shorn from its initial U.S. release.

06. DEATH WISH

In the 1974 revenge fantasy DEATH WISH, Charles Bronson played Paul Kersey, which would become his most identifiable role. Bronson was hugely popular in Europe and other parts of the world at this time thanks to the success of films such as ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and RIDER ON THE RAIN, but those had failed to find big audiences in the U.S. A box-office smash, DEATH WISH finally cemented Bronson’s status as a major star in Hollywood as well, but it was a part he almost didn’t get. In Brian Garfield’s 1972 source novel, the character was more a wimpy everyman, a bleeding heart liberal whose descent into vigilante behavior was more a contrast to his passive disposition before his wife and daughter are attacked (Bronson did not want wife Jill Ireland, almost always cast in his films then, to film the brutal rape scene so Hope Lange was given the part). Garfield was strongly against casting Bronson and claims Dustin Hoffman was his first choice but it’s doubtful Hoffman even read the script, as he would have just finished STRAW DOGS with its similar themes. Jack Lemmon was at one point attached to the project but dropped out then Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, and Frank Sinatra all turned down the evolving role. Enter Bronson, who made DEATH WISH more a rousing action film that advocated vigilante philosophy than the essay on crime and punishment it was originally conceived. Kersey was the role that honed Bronson’s big-screen persona as a steely instrument of violence and Bronson was accused by some of spending the rest of his career remaking DEATH WISH in one way or another. DEATH WISH did indeed spawn four diverse sequels over the next twenty years, all entertaining in their own way, and remains an influential film.

05. THE WHITE BUFFALO

THE WHITE BUFFALO, a weird, offbeat western/monster hybrid from 1977 produced by Italian mogul Dino De Laurentiis (a year after his lame KING KONG remake) used real historical figures to riff on Moby Dick. In the 1870’s, Bronson’s aging gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok is haunted by dreams of his own death by a mammoth albino buffalo so he teams up with Chief Crazy Horse (Will Sampson) and heads to the Cheyenne Black Hills to battle the white beast. Hired for his box office appeal, Bronson turned out to be an inspired choice as the haunted Wild Bill Hickock. It’s one of his most eccentric roles and he looks cool in his tinted prescription glasses. But it’s the buffalo itself that makes THE WHITE BUFFALO so memorable. Carlo Rambaldi, who’d created the barely-used 50-foot robot ape for KING KONG, created a full-size mechanical puppet that’s mostly shown in quick cuts, often obscured by shadows and fog and critics in 1977 were quick to make fun of it (Variety described it as looking “like a hung-over carnival prize”). It’s not very realistic, but the wild-eyed creation is surreal and scary, snorting and bellowing like some hellish fairy-tale demon and it totally works. J. Lee Thompson directed nine (!) Charles Bronson movies from ST. IVES in 1976 to KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS in 1989. These were mostly entertaining, if by-the-numbers, action jalopies but THE WHITE BUFFALO was the most artful of these movies and Thompson filled it with dark symbolism, occult references, and a real sense of dread. I wrote about THE WHITE BUFFALO in my NOT available on DVD column several months ago and since then it has been officially released but as a MGM Burn on Demand DVD-R.

04. THE MECHANIC

In THE MECHANIC (1972) Charles Bronson played Bishop, a secluded hit man targeting various underworld figures who decides to take on an apprentice (Jan-Michael Vincent), which leads to a deadly relationship between teacher and pupil. THE MECHANIC is filled with action, intrigue, and surprises and contains perhaps Bronson’s most definitive performance. He’s perfect as the coldly efficient “mechanic” whose philosophy is “Murder is only killing without a license.” Bishop is a man detached from the outside world in a way Bronson himself was detached from the motion picture business. Bronson didn’t care for movies and never watched them, not even the ones he starred in. He was known for showing up at premieres with his wife but spent the duration of the film smoking cigarettes in the lobby. Bishop, even more so than Paul Kersey in the DEATH WISH films, is perhaps Bronson’s most iconic role. The remake, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster, is due out later this year. We’ll see.

03. VIOLENT CITY

In the 1970 crime thriller VIOLENT CITY, produced in Italy with some New Orleans exteriors, spaghetti-Western vet Sergio Sollima, working from a script by future art-house helmer Lina Wertmüller, directed Charles Bronson just as he was exiting his career as a character actor and phasing into his role as a megastar. VIOLENT CITY finds Bronson a vengeance-minded hit-man after a former flame (Jill Ireland at her sexiest) and her mob boss boyfriend (Telly Savalas) who’d conspired to send him to prison. Sollima directs one stylish action scene after another and maintains a tough, no-nonsense tone that’s perfectly accompanied by Ennio Morricone’s angry electric score. The wordless opening car chase is a gem, the finale with Bronson on a rooftop with a sniper rifle is exciting, and some elements, such as a prison plagued by huge spiders, are just weird.  Bronson spent much of his career starring in these gritty urban westerns and VIOLENT CITY is the best. Jill Ireland was never a great actress but she was Bronson’s off-screen wife and contractually mandated to co-star in no less than 15 of his hit films (the last, ASSASSINATION, was filmed shortly before her death from cancer in 1990). VIOLENT CITY was not released in the U.S. until 1974, after the success of DEATH WISH, and then it was shorn 20 minutes and retitled THE FAMILY. Some of the original reviews mentioned Ms. Ireland’s nude scenes but Anchor Bay’s restored Euro-cut DVD reveals that these scenes were the work of an obvious body double. Jill Ireland penned two autobiographies and one of them, Life Wish was filmed as a TV movie in 1991 starring Jill Clayburgh with Lance Henrickson as Bronson!

02. HARD TIMES

No one could touch Charles Bronson in terms of global popularity throughout the 1970’s and HARD TIMES was his best film from that decade. Walter Hill, in his 1976 directorial debut, made a remarkably earthy and entertaining film about illegal bare-nuckle fighting in Depression-era New Orleans. HARD TIMES, whose succinct tag line read “New Orleans 1933, in those days words didn’t buy much,” perfectly exploits Bronson’s granite presence and is a concise, almost mythical celebration of men who only communicate with their fists. The fight scenes, which seem authentic rather over-choreographed, are expertly staged and framed by Hill, especially the films centerpiece; an underground cage match between Bronson and a grinning goon named “Skinhead” played by Robert “Mr. Clean” Tessier. Supporting vets Strother Martin, James Coburn, and Ben Johnson all act up a storm but it’s Bronson, whose expression never changes, that commands all the attention. Bronson’s Chaney is a man of few words and no past and it’s perhaps his most fitting role. Acclaimed in 1976, HARD TIMES is the perfect Charles Bronson movie for people who claim not to like Charles Bronson movies and even critics who had previously overlooked Bronson’s abilities were impressed.

01. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST

In a class by itself, Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) was an emotional, operatic Western that fully deserves to be called a masterpiece. It’s a grand overview of the themes and ideas that inspired the Italian filmmaker to write and direct films in the distinctly American genre and after the worldwide mega-success of his “Man With No Name” trilogy A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Leone could have cast anyone he wanted in the role of “Harmonica,” the hero of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Charles Bronson had been Leone’s second choice (after Henry Fonda) four years earlier for the lead in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS but Bronson was unimpressed with the script and, unable to see Leone’s vision, turned it down (Clint Eastwood on the other hand, saw it as a free trip to Europe during summer hiatus between seasons of Rawhide and it launched his movie career). In 1968, Bronson was 47 years old and, despite success in action films such as THE GREAT ESCAPE and THE DIRTY DOZEN, probably thought his best years as an actor were behind him, but Leone again offered him a lead and the rest is history. The 165-minute ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST was a smash in Europe and the rest of the world and made Bronson a sensation in every country except his own. The film is beautiful to watch, masterfully paced and carefully plotted, yet Paramount though it lacked the violence, humor, and fast pace of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY and cut 40 minutes from it before dumping it in American theaters where it bombed. It was finally restored here in 1985 and played at revival theaters, which is where I saw it and it’s been my favorite film since.

Charles Bronson Memorabilia

Charles Bronson made a lot of great movies (and a few duds) in his career and BREAKHEART PASS, RED SUN, TELEFON, BREAKOUT, and MR. MAJESTYK are some that I hated to cross off of this list. Bronson has been my favorite movie star since I was 7 years old and saw THE DIRTY DOZEN the first time it played on network television in 1968. I’ve been collecting Charles Bronson movie memorabilia now for 25 years and have suitcases stuffed with clippings, posters, stills, pressbooks, and lobby cards from his films (there’s a ton of it out there and it tends to go cheap). Charles Bronson died in August of 2003 after ending his career with a string of forgettable made-for-TV movies, but his legacy live on. A lot of casual film fans under age 30 are unaware just how popular he was in his prime but I’ve noticed that younger movie geeks are taking an interest in him and I feel that he’s a star whose cult is ascending. I host a monthly film festival at a nightclub in St. Louis called Super-8 Movie Madness where I screen condensed version of movies on Super-8 sound film on a big screen. Tuesday, July 6 will be a special theme show called Super-8 Charles Bronson Movie Madness where I will screen edited versions (average length: 15 minutes) of seven films featuring Hollywood’s greatest star. They are: DRUM BEAT, MASTER OF THE WORLD, THE DIRTY DOZEN, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, BREAKOUT, HARD TIMES and LOVE AND BULLETS (I’ll also be screening nine other films that do not star Bronson). I will be displaying some of my jumbo Charles Bronson movie posters and collection of Bronson model kits so join me at the Way Out Club at 2525 Jefferson Ave. in St. Louis July 6 beginning at 8pm and bask in the glory that is Charles Bronson!

32 Comments

  1. Tyrone

    June 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    One and two are perfect, in fact one is the best film ever. You left off "Guns of San Sebastian" One of Anthony Quinn's best. What makes this movie so good is the wordplay and the tension between Quinn and Bronson. "Mr. Majestyk" another great performance from the 70's. and the last one I would put on the list is "Chato's land". Bronson plays an indian that is badly outnumbered, but uses the terrain to his advantage. Beautify scenery and good action sequences. It reminds me of another western, "Valdez is Coming" with Burt Lancaster.
    guns at 5, Majestyk at 8, and Chato's at 9. Rider moved to 10, and Buffalo and DW3 removed.

  2. DJX

    June 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Nice job, Tom. As Bronson's main rival for the action hero crown (at least in the 70's), my man Eastwood needs a little defending. Eastwood has often stated in interviews that he immediately recognized A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS as a remake of YOJIMBO. He thought it might be an interesting twist at best, or at worst a "free trip" to Europe.
    I also have a soft spot for RED SUN. I would have included it as perhaps Bronson's loosest performance, the closest he ever came to making a real comedy.

  3. Hooray for Bronson!

    June 4, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Excellent article.

    In this day and age where men are wimps and women are nags we're unlikely to get another Bronson. Eastwood is almost gone and Jason Statham is our best (but not good enough) replacement.

  4. Ricardo Cantoral

    June 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I would substitute Murphy's Law for !0 to Midnight.

  5. Ricardo Cantoral

    June 8, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Also last great Bronson movie was Death Hunt; For some reason everyone forgets that film.

  6. Marko

    June 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    What about Death Hunt, that's my favorite Bronson movie, and you don't even mention it. You should check it out, amazing movie based on true story.

  7. A Blok

    June 15, 2010 at 5:22 am

    Very good article and list. As others have said, my own top 2 are same as yours. I would probably put Rider On The Rain at No. 3, and move Violent City to 4, followed by Death Wish and The Mechanic. After those first four though I would find it difficult to separate/rate the remainder of the top ten. Along with the six I've already mentioned, I would add Chato's Land and Telefon, and there's several Bronson films I've not seen in many years that I need to revisit. Also, I don't think I would leave out The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Dirty Dozen. To me they are among Bronson's key films. I also have a very soft spot for Valdez Horses, which has probably my favourite Bronson performance.

    Bronson gave great performances in Villa Rides (with Yul Brynner and Robert Mitchum), Someone Behind The Door (with Anthony Perkins!?) and From Noon Til Three, and while the films themselves may not be masterpieces, they're well worth seeing for Bronson's performances alone. (I haven't seen "Noon" in over 20 years, I need to see it again!) It's a sad fact that many of Bronson's very best performances were in little seen movies.

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    June 25, 2010 at 6:52 am

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    July 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    A single self-sufficient speech on NBC within the Tv show. This individual features a seriously difficult immigration law coverage. He managed to graduate on the Harvard College. Right now he has his one Stereo Show. He couldn’t such as that Usa chief executive.

  11. Dominic

    August 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I saw a what I think is a 1970 film, vagualy remember an undercover cop getting shot in the begining who was surveilance(the mafia underworld?)Was set in New York I think & was so gritty,lots of underground parking lot scenes & shoot outs, great if you are a 70s petrol head too. Anyone remember this film?
    Would appreciate it if anyone knows what film this might be?? Thanks

  12. Bill Harding

    August 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Tom – I was lucky enough to meet Charlie Bronson on the set of Death Wish 2 in 1981. I watched two weeks of the filming and kept one of Charlie’s blanks from the final shootout, which was filmed at Point Fermin, not far from Long Beach.

    It’s true that Charlie was a man of few words. He’d sit at the edge of the set whittling on a stick and only rejoin the crew when they were ready to shoot. He gave the impression of wanting to get back to his family as soon as possible. Eating with the crew, I met his son, but he didn’t appear in the movie. Unlike other stars, Charlie would arrive on set in his limo sitting up front with the driver. I could go on, but don’t want to become boring. I applaud your efforts to discuss Bronson’s work again. There’s a danger he’ll soon be forgotten by all but us old-timers!

  13. Charles Newton

    August 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    This is awesome feedback…loving it! Looking at THE MECHANIC on tv right now.

  14. Doc Quatermass

    September 2, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I would have put Drum Beat in place of The White Buffalo or at least the Spaghetti Western Chop Socky crossover Red Sun.

  15. Rob

    September 7, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Ok most of these belong on the list, but DW3, White Buffalo & The Valachi Papers should be removed and Mr Majestyk, The Stone Killer and the billiant Death Hunt should take their place. They are 3 of Bronsons greatest films and i was amazed not one of them had made this list.

  16. Rob

    September 7, 2010 at 5:49 am

    Oh yes and The Mechanic should be Number 1 ;0)

  17. Van Roberts

    September 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    If you study Charles Bronson’s career, he may not have had a lot of range, but he did some movies that you’d never think Charles Bronson would be caught dead in, such as Richard Donner’s “Lola.” He could vary his performances, too. Typically taciturn, Bronson was incredibly vibrant in Tom Gries’ “Breakout” where he verged on being downright hammy. Frank D. Gilroy’s “From Noon to Three” was definitely a departure, too, for the action star. Some of the films in the list seem out of place. “Death Wish 3″ should be replaced by “Death Wish 2.” You hit it dead center bulls-eye with Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West,” but you didn’t put “Red Sun” in there and he was rather charismatic in this rough and ready Terence Young western and used the stance of putting his hands behind his back in the in his gunbelt. Surely, his sympathetic performance as the gunslinger in John Sturges’ “The Magnificent Seven” deserves honorable mention. Probably the least touted of his early starring roles is the bounty hunter trying to collect his money in Gene Fowler Jr.’s “Showdown at Boothill.” The man was a gifted actor and he could have stretched himself more, but for whatever reason he didn’t. I know when I saw him in Sean Penn’s “The Indian Runner,” I was stunned that he could take such an offbeat role. Another of his least appreciated roles (it hasn’t made it to DVD yet) is in
    Peter Collinson’s “You Can’t Win’em All” where he gave another “Breakout” performance. As for Michael Winner’s “The Mechanic,” that movie ranks in my estimation as the BEST hitman movie ever and nobody will ever touch Bronson’s brilliance.

  18. MARK

    September 20, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    BRONSON WAS ONE OF A KIND . WHEN I WAS A KID I REALLY ENJOYED HIS MOVIES , SOME PEOPLE WANTED EASTWOOD , I WANTED BRONSON, HIS MOVIES OF THE 70S WERE GREAT9(MAJESTYK , DEATH WISH, BREAKOUT, THE MECHENIC THE 80S WERE OKAY i LOVE THE EVIL THAT MEN DO BUT IT SEEM HE WAS IN IN A RUT
    LETS NOT FORGET THE A LEGEND

  19. Pingback: WAMG Interview: Harriett Bronson, first wife of Charles Bronson and author of CHARLIE AND ME | We Are Movie Geeks

  20. Arunas

    February 7, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Still as a teenager I loved films with Bronson. We used to talk about him as “that guy”. Only later I’ve got to know he was a Lithuanian originally, as us. That made us even more proud of his performance. Still love to watch his films. Some of them are going to appear as remakes, however more techno stuff, less acting and operator work.

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    February 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Can you please send me a mail. I actually like your design.

  22. Jim Sullivan

    July 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Like all lists, very subjective, but enjoyable because it pays homage to the late, great, consistently underrated Charles Bronson. I understand your decision to separate films in which Bronson starred from those in which he played a supporting role, and definitely agree with your #1 and #2 choices on this list. Here are a few films in which Bronson appeared that I really enjoyed:

    “Raid on Entebbe” — TV movie based on actual Israeli commando raid to free hostages from Idi Amin’s forces in Uganda.

    “Machine Gun Kelly” — eponymous Roger Corman ’50s film about a gangster who didn’t quite live up to his nickname.

    “Vera Cruz” — Great western with outstanding cast; Bronson’s role is small but notable.

    “House of Wax” — Bronson frightening as Igor!

    “Master of the World” — Bronson reunited with Vincent Price. This was a low budget Jules Verne film, sort of a “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” in the air.

    “You Can’t Win ‘em All” — 1970 action flick about soldiers of fortune in pre-WW I Turkey with sections of the script lifted word-for-word from “Vera Cruz”.

    “Tennessee Champ” — ’50s boxing film in which Bronson plays evil prizefighter Sixty Jubal; nice warm up for “Hard Times”.

    Also recommend DVD of Bronson’s “Man With a Camera” TV show from the late ’50s. Production values are low, but Bronson is the greatest!

  23. meca

    December 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    great effort but how could you possibly leave out ”the evil that men do”
    the godam doctor,the doctor the doctor, the doctor. OMG!

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  25. bill

    April 27, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Id remove murphy’s law,white buffalo,DW3 and valachi my replacement would be Breakout,death hunt,Breakheart pass and st. ives.

  26. SatyaReddy

    June 10, 2012 at 12:55 am

    The first movie I watched of his was with my father ( here in India) called St. Ives. I was about 8 yrs old. I was hooked straight away. The posture, the walk, the persona – amazing. I don’t much care about the method school and stuff like that, but boy, have this man on the screen and the rest tend to fade. To his credit he has acted in many a multiple star cast films. Just wish Farewell, Friend made it to your list. And just watch the way Bronson lights off Delons matchstick.

  27. Paula Kersey

    September 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Ever since i was little and watched Death Wish with my Dad and he said “Your name is just like him!” My name is Paula Kersey, so i thought that was so cool and started watching his movies! I’m a vigilante too! Lol

  28. Ace

    September 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Anyone know why he signed up with Cannon films in the 80’s? I guess the paychecks were big and often, but they seemed to damage his rep some what…

  29. Guy

    October 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

    An interesting list. I was a teenager in the 1970s. Chuck films from that era always got my vote. After the 70s his films, just like Clint

  30. chris mills

    October 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    i grew up watching bronson he was simply the best! just watched 10 too midnight last night. they don’t make men like him anymore. simply put he was the best.

  31. terminus maximus

    February 21, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Grew up loving Bronson. My best friend Bruce and I would argue for days who was tougher Bronson or Eastwood. I think we saw Hard Times 8 times. It’s my favorite Bronson film. I had hoped he would done Space Cowboys with Eastwood but his health had deteriorated by then. He was from my Dads generation, the greatest generation…….who survived the Depression, saved the planet in WWII and built the greatest country in the history of mankind. That’s what made him and others like him so special. In a world that’s become effeminate and wishy washy we aren’t likely to see his kind again.

  32. rogerscorpion

    June 1, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I recall, in an article on Ingmar Bergman, when visiting the US, he said what he most wanted to do was watch Bronson work. Whatta you know?

    As to his lack of range…I think he gave better, more nuanced performances, in his early, character roles. Like ‘Drum Beat’.

    I know that, later on, he picked only films which would afford him proximity, to hotels–so his family could be with him. Except whn Lee Marvin talked him into ‘Death Hunt’.

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