Film Review – MR. MAJESTYK (1974)

MR. MAJESTYK (1974, USA, 103m, 18) ***½
Action, Crime, Thriller
dist. United Artists; pr co. Mirisch Company; d. Richard Fleischer; w. Elmore Leonard; pr. Walter Mirisch; ph. Richard H. Kline (DeLuxe | 1.85:1); m. Charles Bernstein; ed. Ralph E. Winters.
cast: Charles Bronson (Vince Majestyk), Al Lettieri (Frank Renda), Linda Cristal (Nancy Chavez), Lee Purcell (Wiley), Paul Koslo (Bobby Kopas), Taylor Lacher (Gene Lundy), Frank Maxwell (Det. Lt. McAllen), Alejandro Rey (Larry Mendoza), Jordan Rhodes (Deputy Harold Richie), Bert Santos (Julio Tomas).
Enjoyable action-thriller wittily scripted by Leonard and directed with efficiency by Fleischer. Bronson is a Vietnam War veteran trying to keep his watermelon farm afloat when he is approached by Koslo who tries to force him into employing an inept band of farmhands. This incident lands Bronson in jail for assault where he crosses mobster hitman Lettieri when he tries to obstruct his escape plans. Bronson must now stand up for his farm and his workers, led by Cristal, against Lettieri and his men. Bronson is in good form, but Lettieri demonstrably overplays his role resulting in his highly emotive hitman character not ringing true. The action scenes, though, are well-staged and the slight story moves swiftly and entertainingly along to its inevitable shootout finale.

Film Review – CANNON: HE WHO DIGS A GRAVE (TV) (1973)

Cannon (1971)CANNON: HE WHO DIGS A GRAVE (TV) (1973, USA) ***
Action, Crime, Mystery
dist. Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); pr co. Quinn Martin Productions (QM); d. Richard Donner; w. Stephen Kandel (based on the novel “He Who Digs a Grave” by David Delman); exec pr. Quinn Martin; pr. Adrian Samish; ph. Jack Swain (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.33:1); th m. John Carl Parker; m sup. John Elizalde; ed. Ray Daniels, Jerry Young; ad. Bill Kenney; set d. Frank Lombardo; rel. 12 September 1973 (USA); cert: PG; r/t. 100m.

cast: William Conrad (Frank Cannon), Anne Baxter (Mayor Helen Blyth), Barry Sullivan (Sheriff Jesse Luke), David Janssen (Ian Kirk), Murray Hamilton (Arthur Gibson), Tim O’Connor (Martin Ross), Louise Troy (Louise Gibson), Lee Purcell (Marion Luke), Martine Bartlett (Hanna Freel), Royal Dano (Doctor), Robert Hogan (Deputy Coleman), R.G. Armstrong (Banner), Dabbs Greer (Windom Salter), Jerry Ayres (Deputy Reber), Lenore Kasdorf (Sherry Benson), Cathy Lee Crosby (Irene Kirk), Dennis Rucker (Wade Gibson), Virginia Gregg (Dr. Emma Savonka), Bill Quinn (Ben Salter).

Cannon  (Conrad) travels to the quiet, remote town of Mercer, California to help his friend Ian Kirk (Janssen, in a rare late career guest slot) who is suspected of murdering his rich wife (Crosby) and her paramour Wade Gibson (Rucker). As Cannon tries to prove his friend’s innocence, he gets help from the mayor (Baxter) but is stymied in his efforts by the sheriff (Sullivan)’s office. Several other viable suspects present themselves, people who had reason to hate Wade, including his stepfather (Hamilton) and the sheriff’s daughter (Purcell). This feature-length opener to season three of the popular TV series is a more complex mystery than the standard TV fare, reflecting its literary roots (it was based on a novel by David Delman). There is a great role for Baxter as the small town’s mayor who seems to be the only one in turn willing to give Conrad a fair crack of the whip. The action scenes are well-mounted, and Donner works the script well, but the camera work is largely unimaginative, lacking the hand-held realism of the pilot film. Nevertheless, the strong cast and script make this an enjoyable episode. Shot on location in Grass Valley, northern California.