Film Review – THE STONE KILLER (1973)

THE STONE KILLER (1973, USA, 95m, 15) ***
Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
dist. Columbia Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); pr co. Dino de Laurentiis Cinematografica / Produzioni Cinematografiche Inter. Ma. Co. / Rizzoli Film; d. Michael Winner; w. Gerald Wilson (based on the novel “A Complete State of Death” by John Gardner); pr. Michael Winner; ph. Richard Moore (Technicolor | 1.85:1); m. Roy Budd; ed. Frederick Wilson; ad. Ward Preston.
cast: Charles Bronson (Lou Torrey), Martin Balsam (Al Vescari), Jack Colvin (Jumper), Paul Koslo (Langley), Norman Fell (Les Daniels), David Sheiner (Guido Lorenz), Stuart Margolin (Lawrence), Ralph Waite (Mathews), Alfred Ryder (Tony Champion), Walter Burke (J D), Kelley Miles (Geraldine Wexton), Eddie Firestone (Armitage), Charles Tyner (Police Psychiatrist), Byron Morrow (Station Commander), Lisabeth Hush (Dr. Helen Torrey), Frank Campanella (Calabriese), Gene Woodbury (Paul Long), Robert Emhardt (Fussy Man), David Moody (Gus Lipper), John Ritter (Hart).
A decent gritty action thriller vehicle for Bronson as a police detective who learns a 1930s mobster (Martin Balsam) has formed a killer elite to settle an old gangland score. Winner handles the tough and violent action scenes well, but he is less adept with the actors, who give variable performances. The location shifts from New York to Los Angeles are jarringly edited at times and the screenplay lacks clarity of focus. Roy Budd’s energetic score helps to keep things moving and the climactic shootout is well-staged. John Gardner’s 1969 source novel was set in the UK.

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.