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Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Vigilante Neo Noir

 
A Coen-esque Dark Comedy Neo Noir 

Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh, with Music by Carter Burwell and Cinematography by Ben Davis.

Stars: Frances McDormand (Blood Simple (1984), Fargo (1996), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), ), Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers (1994), Palmetto (1998), True Detective
TV Series (2014–  No Country for Old Men (2007)), Sam Rockwell (Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), ), Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes (Too Late (2015)), Michelle Monaghan (True Detective TV Series (2014– )) and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent (2003)).

Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is grieving over the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Angela. Particularly she is heartsick over the fact that on the night of the tragedy she denied letting her daughter use the car, to which the daughter told her, something along the lines of fine, I'll hitch-hike and I'll probably get raped. To which Mildred replied sarcastically I hope you get raped too. 
 
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Flashback daughter Angela  (Kathryn Newton)"I hope I get raped."
 
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the three billboards
 
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Mildred (McDormand)
Seven moths pass and there is no resolution of the case. Mildred marriage dissolves, her husband Charlie (Hawkes) is screwing a 19 year old to cope in his own twisted way. Mildred decides to rent three disused billboards to vent her frustrations. The three aligned billboards (sort in a similar vein to the old Burma Shave signs), say "RAPED WHILE DYING", "STILL NO ARRESTS?", and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?"
 
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The billboards upset Chief Bill Willoughby (Harrelson) who is suffering from cancer and his deputies, particularly Officer Dixon (Rockwell) an alcoholic who has a reputation for being a racist and violent. Mildred and Robbie (Hedges) her son are both harassed and threatened. Some town folks make their disapproval known.
 
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Officer Dixon (Rockwell)
 
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Dixon goes on a personal rampage threatening Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones) the man who rented out the billboards to Mildred and arresting Mildred's friend Denise on minor marijuana possession charges. Even Charlie visits Mildred with his new girlfriend to question her sanity.
 
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Chief Bill Willoughby (Harrelson) and Mildred

 

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Charlie (John Hawkes)
After Mildred has a confrontation with her disapproving dentist (she drills a hole in his thumb) Willoughby brings her in for questioning. Willoughby coughs up blood during the interview. He checks into the hospital. He leaves the hospital when he gets the bad news. He then heads home to spend a last good day with his wife and daughters, then goes out to the horse barn that night and blows his brains out.
 
 
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These events send Dixon off the deep end. He heads across the street and throws Welby out of his second story window. Dixon gets fired by temporary Chief Abercrombie. Willoughby has sent out letters that arrive postmortem. One to Mildred tells her that she did not cause him to commit suicide and informs her that he paid an extra month for the rent of the billboards.

The three billboards are set on fire and Mildred escalates by Molotov torching what she thinks is the unoccupied the police station. However, Dixon is inside wearing ear buds so that he doesn't hear the phone call Mildred places to check. He's reading the letter he got from Willoughby which tells him
 to let go of hate and learn to love, as the only way to realize his wish to become a detective. Dixon grabs Angela's case file out of a cabinet but suffers severe burns as he escapes the flames.
 
 
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James (Dinklage)  putting out the flames
James (Dinklage) sees Dixon run out and collapse on the street and puts out the flames. He later covers for Mildred giving her an alibi claiming that they were out on a date that night and came around to corner to find the police station in flames.

The billboard messages are restored with spares, and Dixon is eventually released from the hospital. While getting ****-faced in a local bar he overhears a conversation with two guys in a booth. One is  bragging about having rapped and killed a girl. Dixon goes out and notes the Idaho licence plate. He  then starts a fight with them by scratching the braggers face with his fingernails. He gets the **** beat out of him but also now has some DNA evidence.

The DNA proves negative but Dixon and Mildred go Noirsville heading to Idaho on a vigilante mission to kill the bragger.

Noirsville
 
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Dixon and his Momma (Sandy Martin)
 
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The dark humor is provided the reactions along with some of the music cues and the sharp dialogues between Charlie and Mildred, Dixon and his fellow officers, Dixon and his geezer Momma (Sandy Martin), Mildred and Willoughby, Mildred Charlie, and Charlie's teenybopper girlfriend and Mildred and James.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri won 90th Academy Awards for Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell. 8/10 Full review with more scree caps here Noirsville

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Wonder Wheel (2017) Coney Island Noir

 
"Once a luminous jewel, but growing relentlessly seedier as the tides roll in and out" (Mickey Rubin)

Written and directed by Woody Allen. A Coney Island Neo Noir - Sort of A Streetcar Named Desire meets the Honeymooners with a dash of The Sopranos. Cinematography was by maestro Vittorio Storaro who shot the film in a kaleidoscope of carnival colors. It's offsetting at first but grows on you.  Storaro gifted us with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Last Tango in Paris (1972), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Last Emperor (1987) Dick Tracy (1990), The Sheltering Sky (1990). The vintage soundtrack was comprised by a selection of oldie goldies.


Between the late 1800's and roughly 1945 Coney Island was the largest amusement park in the US. Millions of visitors visited the three major attractions Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park. It was fed by four BMT subway elevated lines the West End Line, the Sea Beach Line, The Gravesend-Culver Avenue Line, and the Brighton Beach Line. The Coney Island smiling "Funny Face" logo, dates from Steeplechase Park which opened in 1897. In 1900 New York City condemned land to replenish the beach and also built a boardwalk. On the hottest summer days, over a million people would head to the cooling beaches of Coney Island. Dreamland Park opened in 1904 and burned down in a fire in 1911. Luna Park opened in 1903 but fell on hard times during the Great Depression.  Steeplechase alone had kept itself financially profitable. In 1916, Nathan Handwerker started selling hot dogs at Coney Island for a nickel each the beginnings of the Nathan's Famous hot dog chain.

Coney Island's later attractions Deno's Wonder Wheel opened in 1920, the Riegelmann Boardwalk Amusement opened in 1923,  the Coney Island Cyclone opened in 1927, and the Parachute Jump in 1939.

Coney Island

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Wonder Wheel stars Kate Winslet as Ginny Rannell, she is Humpty's wife, Richie's mother, and Carolina's stepmother. She's a cross between Blanche DuBois and Alice Kramden she's an ex actress and closet alkie tragically looking for love in a crumbling "dreamland" second marriage. She "acts" as a waitress in a clamhouse on the boardwalk. Her second marriage was one of convenience to alkie on the wagon, Humpty Rannell (Jim Belushi) a Coney Island carousel operator. Did they meet at some AA meeting? Who knows. Humpty has the looks and some mannerisms that are a dead ringer for Jackie Gleason's in The Honeymooners. They live in a space near The Wonder Wheel that housed at one time a freak show or some other Coney Island attraction. It's quite appropriate since it still houses a freak Ginny's son Richie (Jack Gore) from her previous marriage who is a budding pyromaniac. His punctuating creative blazes provides some of the humor in the film.
 
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Moma's little pyro Richie (Jack Gore)

Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake) is the summer beach life guard for "bay seven" a section of ocean along the boardwalk. He is a wanna be playwright and the film's raconteur.
 
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Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake)
 
 
The tale and incidentally the film, Rubin tells us, starts with the arrival of  Carolina Rannell (Juno Temple), who is Humpty's quite beautiful grown daughter from his first marriage. At that point in time Rubin has been playing hide the sausage "under the boardwalk" with Ginny (Kate Winslet) every chance they can while Humpty spend hours with his buddies fishing off the pier at Sheepshead Bay.
 
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 Carolina Rannell (Juno Temple)
 
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 Ginny Rannell (Kate Winslet)
 
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Humpty Rannell (Jim Belushi)
Our Soprano's reference is provided by two familiar grease balls, 'Big ****' Steve Schirripa here playing a wiseguy named Nick and  Paulie 'Walnuts' Tony Sirico playing Angelo. They arrive about halfway through the film looking for Carolina.
 
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Nick (Steve Schirripa)
 
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Angelo (Tony Sirico)
Carolina it seems was married to a mob up **** named Tony. She got tired  or scared of the life and ratted Tony out to the Feds. She splits the scene and goes to hide out in Coney Island with her father Humpty. Carolina figures that Tony will never think of looking for her there because Humpty basically thought she was throwing her life away and he practically disowned her as a result.

The dialog in the first meeting between father and daughter after five years is some forceful screenwriting and I was very impressed with Belushi's delivery in the scene.
 
 
 
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She found this-this greaseball exciting. He wasn't even good-lookin'! He was a punk.
Humpty: ****. What the hell do you expect to happen when you marry a cheap hoodlum?
Carolina: I was twenty. I didn't know better. I'm sorry.
Humpty: Why didn't you go to the police?
Carolina: I told the police too much, that's the problem.
Humpty: Why the hell you open your mouth?
Carolina: The police told me that I could be looking at five years if I didn't cooperate.
Humpty: What the hell do you know? Since when do you know what happens inside the rackets?
Carolina: How could I not know? Can't be married to one of those guys and not pick up on what's going on.
Humpty: Jesus Christ! I told you not to marry that racketeer! I told you he was all mobbed up. He stank of murder. She found this-this greaseball exciting. He wasn't even good-lookin'! He was a punk.
I need a drink!
Ginny: Forget it, Humpty.
Humpty: I need one, ****!
Ginny: Calm down.
Humpty: Jesus Christ. God damn it, she could've married a few guys from school, from the neighborhood, all of 'em. Decent kids. We raised her nice. Your mother and I we broke our backs
out of workin' so you could go to college and-and you know, you didn't. You threw it all away! Look at ya-- you're such a beautiful girl! You had your pick.
Carolina: I loved Frank, okay?
Humpty: And all the guys you hand-picked for me, they were-- dull, colorless, boring guys. All of 'em, honest men, every one of 'em. Christ! Your mother's last dying request on her deathbed was that you didn't run off with that slime, Frankie Adatto. You wouldn't give her that one bit of satisfaction, would ya? You wouldn't let her die in peace.
Carolina: I loved him. I was twenty, I... I wanted more. More.
Humpty: More. More what?
Ginny: Jesus, Humpty. There's a world out there.
Humpty: This does not concern you. All I know is you lost your head. Your head was in the clouds
over that gutter guinea that flashy, cheap, flashy little ****. You didn't think I knew he carried a gun up here? Huh? He'll know... He'll know you came here.
Carolina: No. It's the last place he'll look. He knows how you feel about me.
Humpty: Yeah. You mean he knows how much he hated me for callin' it the way I saw it. Christ.
I counted on you when she died. I was lost. You dumped me for that trash.
Carolina: That's why he wouldn't think I'd come here. He knows that we haven't exchanged words in five years 'cause bad blood between us ran too deep.

Humpty agrees to take her in on the condition that she save her doe and go back to school. Ginny gets Carolina a job as a waitress at the Clam House where she works. All is well until Mickey runs into Ginny and Carolina on the boardwalk. Mickey's dilemma is that he falls hard for Carolina while still boinking her stepmom Ginny.
 
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Love at first sight
What could go wrong?

It goes Noirsville when Carolina begins to confide in Ginny about the details of her encounters with and her evolving feelings for Mickey. The icing on the cake is when the two mob Guidos show up on the boardwalk.

Noirsville 
 
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All the performances are bathed an expressionist glow of carnival colors, infusing some sequences in orange and red others in blue and indigo. Vittorio Storaro provides a wonderfully hypnotic expressionism in what's essentially a Kitchen Sink Carney/Coney Island Noir. 8/10

Fuller review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968) Sexploitation Roughie

 
"Cat" is leftover beatnik speak for a person.
The person is a woman. The woman is Virginia Marcus (Eileen Lord) and she is a psycho-cat. Marcus is a wealthy whacked out big game huntress with an incredibly over stuffed trophy room. It looks like a storage closet with some furniture. She is apparently bored with hunting animals, she now wants to hunt the biggest game man.

The film starts with a shot of seeing her brother Anderson off on a trip from Manhattan by ocean liner (of course, how else is a big game hunter supposed to travel you are not getting your trophies back to the USA by plane).

Which reminds me of a funny story. I was working on a land survey for an owner up in the Shawangunks of New York State.  He was a nice little guy with these coke bottle glasses who it turned out was one of these big game hunters. He had a trophy club house, sort of a converted garage detached from the main residence that was part of the survey. Well he invited us in to see the trophies. It was filled with heads, stuffed bears, mountain lions, etc., etc. It dawned on me while looking at his prizes that through some type of psychological cause and effect this guy was compensating for the fact that without his glasses he would be essentially food for all the former trophies, hah!

We first see Virginia walking down the interior of a Hudson River pier seeing her brother off for a safari. She usually tags along herself but she's had a nervous breakdown and her shrink recommends rest.

We cut to a ridiculous **** scene at Ronnie's where, it being a sexploitation feature targeting the raincoat crowd and bound for at a grindhouse theater run, we get a lame-o 1968 depiction of an ****. Which means in 1968 no full frontal nudity and the men bare chested and all wearing their underwear, it's basically all T&A with the occasional fleeting glimpse of bush. You can just fast forward through all the tedious stuff.  (see the full review)
 
 
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Buddy (Frank Geraci)
Buddy a minor drug dealer and one of our stars is supposed to make a score of some drugs and get back to what I guess is supposed to be a hippie ****. We cut to see Buddy being chased across Central Park by Virginia who is hunting him with a crossbow. When he does arrive at Ronnies he has a crossbow bolt in his leg. In flashback mode Buddy tells his story.
 
 
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The case in Central Park
Virginia invited Buddy, a Broadway Actor Charles Wheeler, and a retired wrestler Rocco Bonito played by middleweight world champion boxer Jake LaMotta, to the trophy room. They were all the subjects of a magazine article describing them as killers who got away with their crimes for various reasons.

 
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In the he Trophy Room with Buddy, Charles Wheeler and Rocco (Jake LaMotta)
 
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Virginia (Eileen Lord)
 
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Charles
 
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Rocco
In a flashback within a flashback we see Charles the actor kill in self defense the husband of a woman he's having an affair with.

Charles Flashback
 
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Buddy accidentally gave a girlfriend a heroin overdose. Rocco accidentally killed a man in the ring.
 
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overdosed
 
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Rocco in the ring
Since Virginia was prevented from accompanying her brother she decides to hunt the three men. She offers them each checks for $100,000 post dated 24 hours, that they can cash if they manage to live. They will be her prey.

Buddy figures its a cinch since he's had practice hiding out from the cops.

Virginia manages to hunt down Charles even after he sent a friend as a decoy dressed and made up to look like him to a neighborhood bar. Virginia's plan was to lure Charles out with a offer of work. He shows up for an appointment at a theater for a revival of one of his old plays. Virginia spears Charles through the heart.

Rocco, Virginia lures out by questioning his bravery. The big dope goes to her rooftop apartment where she, dressed as a matador, challenges him in a bull fight. It's a pretty stylistic fight that ends with Rocco very dead.

Buddy is itchin' for a fix even though he could make the 24 hour challenge and be $100,000 fat, he decides to go back out on the street to score. The only thing he scores is another meeting with Virginia.
 
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The start of Virginia's psychosis

We find out (in still another flashback) how Virginia's psychosis all started. It seams Anderson, her brother, when they were kids, killed her puppy by tossing him off the penthouse terrace.

Noirsville
 
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Psycho Virginia 
 
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Rocco as a bull in a bullfight with Virginia
 
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Buddy shooting up in a men's room stall
 
 
 
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the dying bull....
 
 

Directed by Herb Stanley (his only credit if that is even his real name). Written by Bill Boyd. The stylistic claustrophobic Cinematography was by Paul Guffee, his use of a fish-eye lens was quite effective. It doesn't look as if he filmed any of what looks like in comparison the inserted **** sequence. The only redeeming factor for shooting a sex scene would be to shoot it artistically and creatively.

The film stars Eileen Lord as Virginia Marcus, Jake LaMotta as Rocco, Ed Garrabrandt as Anderson, Frank Geraci as Buddy, and Dick Lord as Charles Freeman. The acting is amateurish but it's got to be expected with a low budget effort, it's nice seeing Jake LaMotta.

"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!" 
The Last Drive In (thelastdrivein.com)

Confessions of a Psycho Cat is another missing link between the demise of Classic Hollywood Noirs and the Neo Noirs that began to emerge in the 1970s. I call them Transitional Noir. Available from Something Weird Videos. A curiosity 5-6/10.

Full review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Death Wish (1974) The Original Vigilante Noir

 
Shootout on the Broadway-Seventh Avenue Express

I had left New York City and was living for two years in Montana when Death Wish came out.

Ten years later in a life imitates art incident on December 22, 1984, three days before Christmas, Bernhard Goetz gave four teenagers, Barry Allen, Troy Canty, Darrell Cabey and James Ramseur lead Christmas presents on a NYC Broadway–Seventh Avenue Downtown No. 2 Train Express. These four punks each with previous arrest records were on their way to rob a Playland or Fascination Video Arcade in downtown Manhattan.

The train of  R22 subway cars pulls into 14th Street Station and squeals to a stop. People get off. About fifteen or twenty stay on board car number 7657, it was the seventh car of a ten car train.

At 14th Street Bernie Goetz gets on through the rearmost sliding door. He crosses the aisle and takes a seat on the long bench facing the same door. Canty was laying down on the bench alongside the right side of the same door. Allen was seated on the short bench on the other side of the same door. Ramseur and Cabey were on the same side of the train as Bernie right of the door next to the conductors cab.

As the the doors whooshed shut, the train pulls out increasing its speed on the express track heading towards the next stop at Chambers Street. The train passes local stations Christopher and Houston. Somewhere near Canal Street, Canty asks Bernie 'How you doing?" Bernie responds "Fine."

Then the four men give signals to each other and Canty and Allen get up and go to the left of Bernie blocking him off from the other passengers on the train. Canty then demanded "Give me five dollars!"

"I'll give ya five!"

Gotez stands up pulls a Smith & Wesson Model 38. An aluminum-framed, carbon steel cylinder and barreled, 5-shot revolver loaded with 38 Specials. He fires four quick shots. The first shot hits Canty in the chest, shot two gets Allen in the back as he's trying to get away from that crazy mother ****. Shot three goes through Ramseur's arm and into his side. The fourth shot missed Cabey standing in the corner by the conductors cab. It deflects off the wall. Cabey sits down. Gotez pauses, looks over the carnage sees that Cabey was still functioning either tells him tells him or thinks to himself,  "You seem to be all right, here's another," and shoots him with his last shot.

The rest of the passengers, terrified, knock over two women and run to the end of the car and through the connecting doors between. Train stops in the tunnel. The two women on the floor of the car were immobilized by fear. Goetz walks over to them to see if they were OK.  The conductor arrives and Goetz tells him that "They tried to rob me."  The conductor asks Goetz if he is a police officer. Goetz tells him no. Gotez then jumps to the tracks and runs South along the tunnel to Chambers Street. He heads up to the sidewalk and hurries for home. There, he packs a bag rents a car and splits for Bennington. Vermont. He gets rid of the gun, burns his blue jacket, he drives around New England hiding out in dive motels and paying cash.

On December 29, Goetz calls his neighbor, Myra Friedman. She tells him the police are looking for him. He tells Myra his side of the story.

"Myra, in a situation like this, your mind, you're in a combat situation. Your mind is functioning. You're not thinking in a normal way. Your memory isn't even working normally. You are so hyped up. Your vision actually changes. Your field of view changes. Your capabilities change. What you are capable of changes. You are under adrenaline, a drug called adrenaline. And you respond very quickly, and you think very quickly. That's all. ... You think! You think, you analyze, and you act. And in any situation, you just have to think more quickly than your opposition. That's all. You know. Speed is very important."

Goetz hits the city on December 30th. He returns the rental, picks up some clothes, rents another car and heads  appropriately to Concord, New "Live Free or Die" Hampshire to give himself up.

Goetz was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and several firearms offenses. A jury found him not guilty of all charges except for one count of carrying an unlicensed firearm. Goetz served eight months of a one-year sentence.

"Bernhard Goetz said that three years earlier in 1981, while transporting electronic equipment, he was attacked in the Canal Street subway station by three youths in an attempted robbery.The attackers smashed Goetz into a plate-glass door and threw him to the ground, permanently injuring his chest and knee.  Goetz assisted an off-duty officer in arresting one of them; the other two attackers escaped. Goetz was angered when the arrested attacker spent less than half the time in the police station spent by Goetz himself, and he was angered further when this attacker was charged only with criminal mischief for ripping Goetz's jacket.  Goetz subsequently applied for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, on the basis of routinely carrying valuable equipment and large sums of cash, but his application was denied for insufficient need. He bought a 5-shot .38-caliber revolver during a trip to Florida.

The incident sparked a nationwide debate on race and crime in major cities, the legal limits of self-defense, and the extent to which the citizenry could rely on the police to secure their safety. Goetz, dubbed the "Subway Vigilante" by the New York press, came to symbolize New Yorkers' frustrations with the high crime rates of the 1980s. He was both praised and vilified in the media and public opinion. The incident has also been cited as a contributing factor to the groundswell movement against urban crime and disorder, and the successful National Rifle Association campaigns to loosen restrictions on the concealed carrying of firearms. (1984 New York City Subway shooting - Wikipedia)


So obviously you got to ask was Bernie Goetz influenced by Death Wish?

Directed by Michael Winner who directed two of the great Charles Bronson post Once Upon A Time In The West Westerns,/ Lawman (1971), and Chato's Land (1972). Death Wish was based on the novel Death Sentence by Brian Garfield, the screenplay was written by Wendell Mayes, Gerald Wilson (uncredited) , and Michael Winner (uncredited).

Cinematography was by Arthur J. Ornitz known for The Pusher (1960), Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), and Serpico (1973). The Music was by Herbie Hancock best known as a piano player, jazz star, and a composer, Round Midnight (1986).

The film stars 1950's noir vet Charles Bronson (The People Against O'Hara (1951), The Mob(1951), Crime Wave (1953), Big House, U.S.A. (1955) and Man with a Camera TV Series (1958–1960)) as Paul Kersey, Hope Lange (Bus Stop (1956)) as Joanna Kersey, Kathleen Tolan as Carol Toby, Vincent Gardenia (Cop Hater (1958), Murder, Inc. (1960), Mad Dog Coll (1961), Moonstruck (1987)) as NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa, William Redfield as Samuel "Sam" Kreutzer, Steven Keats as Jack Toby, Stuart Margolin (Kelly's Heroes (1970), The Rockford Files TV Series (1974–1980)) as Ames Jainchill, Jeff Goldblum as "Jughead" Freak #1, Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck (1987)) as Cop at the precinct, and 1974 Manhattan.
 
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Queensboro Bridge
 
 
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Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson)
Paul Kersey is an architect living on the upper West Side ofn Manhattan with his wife Joanna. One day Joanna and his married daughter Carol are followed home from D'Agostino's market by three punks. Jeff Goldblum is billed as Freak # 1 he wears a hat like Jughead does in the old Archie Comics. I'll call him Jughead.
 
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Joanna (Hope Lange) and Carol (Kathleen Tolan)
 
 
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Jughead (Jeff Goldblum) lt.
 
 
Note don't ever have your groceries delivered. The punks know the address from the grocery receipt. They pretend to be the delivery boy. They ring the bell.
 
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Carol opens the door. Mayhem ensues. The women only have seven dollars between them. Jughead and his buds beat the **** out of Joanna and orally rape Carol.  
 
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When Paul gets the call he heads to the hospital to find out that Joanna has died from her injuries. His daughter is suffering from what we now call PTSD. Shortly after the funeral Paul gazing out his apartment window watches as a gang of punks break into a car on his street. He decides to protect himself with two rolls of quarters in the toe of a sock. It proves handy as he uses it to smack a mugger upside his head.

Paul's boss sends him to work on a project in Arizona. There he meets Ames Jainchill who invites him to his gun club. There, Paul gets to shoot various handguns. Jainchill is impressed with Paul's accuracy. Paul tells him he was an avid hunter as a kid until he dad was killed in a hunting accident.
 
 
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 Ames Jainchill  (Stewart Margolin)

Pleased with Paul's work on his real estate project Ames' gives Paul a revolver as a thank you present. Back in Manhattan Paul finds out that his daughter has become catatonic.
 
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Paul loads the revolver and takes a stroll along a walking path in Riverside Park. He gets mugged at gunpoint. Paul, turning towards his attacker has his gun out and blasts the mugger. It turns out he's an ex con. Paul is in shock but gets over it quickly. The next night he heads out again dispatching violent criminals in the act all around the city.
 
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NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa is put in charge of investigating the vigilante killings. The squad gathers a list of suspects based on their having a family member recently murdered by muggers who are also war veterans.
 
 
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NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia)

They get the war vet idea from the eye witness accounts of the vigilante's accuracy. As a consequence of the vigilante activity, crime statistics show a dramatic drop in muggings.

Paul is on the list. Soon Ochoa suspects that Paul is their man. However the police commissioner does not want to make Paul a martyr. He doesn't want the publicity he just wants Paul to go away.

Noirsville
 
 
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Of course the film was panned by many critics because of it showing vigilantism in a good light. Author Garfield was so disappointed in the 1974 film adaption that he wrote the sequel Death Sentence the following year.

Nice New York City locations, with a controversial and interesting story 7/10  

More screenshots in Noirsville

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