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LawrenceA

Charles Bronson: Just Business

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Charles Bronson (November 3, 1921- August 30, 2003) was the consummate movie tough guy. His steely gaze could chill you to your bones, and when he smiled, it was such a contrast from his usual granite-hard facade that it packed twice the wallop of most performers. He was a muscle-man before it was common in Hollywood, and he loved to show off his physique in his early-period films. He toiled for years in bit roles as street thugs, gangsters, and hostile natives in more than a few Westerns. He even starred in a short-lived television show, Man with a Camera, from 1958-1960. He had more high profile roles in the 1960's, but it wasn't until 1974's Death Wish that he became a true superstar. How many actors have careers that reach their pinnacle at age 53? He continued to star in films for the next 25 years, until age finally caught up to him and he retired from the screen.

 

I have tried to read biographies of all of my favorite screen stars, but I have never managed to track down one on Bronson. I know there were one or two middling efforts made 30-40 years ago, and one of those The Films of... books, but no proper look at his life. And then one day I found a short essay on the internet about him (I don't recall where) that stated to the effect that there wasn't a large bio on Bronson because there wasn't much to say. He was an unpretentious actor that showed up on time, knew his lines, and went home. He wasn't an activist or involved in scandals, and stayed away from the celebrity spotlight, rarely granting interviews or attending parties or other Hollywood ceremonies. He looked at acting as a job, nothing more, Just Business. And I can respect that.

 

deathwish9a.jpg

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Here are a few of my favorite Bronson films:

 

Once Upon a Time in the West

The Great Escape

The Dirty Dozen

The Magnificent Seven

Death Wish

House of Wax

The Mechanic

Hard Times

Run of the Arrow

Mr. Majestyk

 

I have seen 60 of his 92 films.

 

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Leonard Nimoy told the story of how Charles Bronson was on the set of Star Trek when Jill Ireland guest starred on the television show and he kept his distance and was in awe.

 

During the filming of The Great Escape, Bronson fell in love with Ireland who was married to costar  David Mcallam who was visiting the set and was ill.

 

During the filming of The Magnificent Seven, there were two camps - the Steve McQueen camp and the Yul Brynner camp.  Bronson wasn't part of any of that.  He spent his off screen time by himself or with the children on the set.

 

I've seen all of the Deathwish movies in order.

 

My favourite movies of Charles Bronson are:

 

The Great Escape

The Magnificent Seven

The Dirty Dozen

Once Upon a Time in the West

Death Wish

Miss Sadie Thompson

Pat and Mike

Telefon

Breakheart Pass

Never So Few

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Lately I've been watching episodes of the TV series he did in the 50s called Man with a Camera. I believe it's the only series in which he starred. All the episodes produced during two seasons are on Hulu. 

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During the filming of The Great Escape, Bronson fell in love with Ireland who was married to costar  David Mcallam who was visiting the set and was ill.

 

 

Yes, it's interesting to see that romance develop and evolve. I recently saw Hell Drivers (1957) for the first time, and that's the film on which McCallum and Ireland met.

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I had a cheap DVD set that included several episodes of Man with a Camera along with a couple of his films. I also have another DVD set entitled "Golden-Age Crime Busters" that includes an episode of a show called Biff Baker USA starring Alan Hale, Jr. that featured Bronson as a communist agent.

 

And of course he was in one of the best Twilight Zone episodes, "Two", with Elizabeth Montgomery.

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"I don't have any friends in Hollywood. I don't want any friends in Hollywood"

- Charles Bronson

 

In the commentary section of the 'Magnificent Seven' DVD, James Coburn relates that Charles would only talk one on one. If he and Brad Dexter were sitting at a table having a drink, Charles would be talking. If any other person joined them, he'd shut right up. Wouldn't say anything if there were three people.

 

I never did see his series 'Man with a Camera', but I remember clearly watching him when he was a co-star of the series 'Empire' in the early 60's. It was around that time (I'd seen him in 'Kid Galahad' just before 'Empire') that I began to take notice of him every time he was onscreen.

 

It was 'The Dirty Dozen' that catapulted Bronson into stardom. After that movie came out, everybody I knew was a fan. 'Once Upon a Time in the West' cemented that stardom. Other notables that were extremely popular over the next years include 'Villa Rides', 'The Family', 'The Valachi Papers', 'Red Sun', 'The Mechanic' and 'Chato's Land'.

 

'Death Wish' was a huge hit - as well as the impetus for a pretty silly string of sequels - but the original movie, based on Brian Garfield's novel, was a statement of the time. 'Hard Times' was another standout - maybe his most enjoyable performance ever. 'Breakheart Pass' was a nice change of pace.

 

After that, his movies dived in quality for the most part. Ultra-violent exhibitions geared to fans of sleazy action.

 

Charles Bronson - the strong, silent type. Who doesn't love those?

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Great reading all this about Charles.

My favorites were:

Hard Times

Once Upon a Time in the West

The Great Escape

 

and Guilty Pleasures would be:

Mr Majestyk

House of Wax

The White Buffalo

The Valachi Papers

Telefon

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After thinking about it..

I've only ever watched two movies Charles Bronson was in:

 

This Property is Condemned

House of Wax

 

He isn't the star in either...

I need to watch more Charles Bronson films.

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Which actor and film is the source of your avatar now, Larry?

 

That's really me. It's my passport photo.

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I watched Bronson last night in an episode of the old Millionaire series from the late 1950s. I was reading up on various episodes and the one he was featured in seemed different, so I figured I would take a look at it. He's paired with Georgann Johnson, a very good underrated actress. She plays a blind woman who meets him one day on the street and he takes pity and helps her get around. Soon he spends more time with her and eventually starts to develop feelings. They reach a point where they decide they're in love. He then receives the million dollar check (as all the major guest characters do in each episode) and he decides to pay for an operation to have her sight restored.

 

The catch is that he is always checking himself in the mirror and doesn't think he's good looking. He wants her to see again but when the surgery is successful he doesn't want her to see him, because he thinks she will reject him as other women have done in the past. I won't tell you how it turns out, but one reviewer said that it was a chance to see Bronson much more vulnerable on screen than his later roles allowed. And I certainly agree. He's a completely different sort of actor in this episode. It's on YouTube and I recommend Bronson fans watch it.

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Here are a few of my favorite Bronson films:

 

Once Upon a Time in the West

The Great Escape

The Dirty Dozen

The Magnificent Seven

Death Wish

House of Wax

The Mechanic

Hard Times

Run of the Arrow

Mr. Majestyk

 

I have seen 60 of his 92 films.

I would add Breakheart Pass and Telefon.  Also enjoy From Noon Until Three which was a real change of pace - a romantic comedy western.  Always liked Jill Ireland as well.  Assassination is another one with Ireland that is entertaining.

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Top Billed:  How did you get to see "The Jerry Bell Story" episode of The Millionaire?  Obviously, I know it well. 

 

This is where I first remember seeing him and fell head over heels in love at age 10.  I didn't think he was ugly at all; the gentle spirit he showed in the role won me over.  I hoped I'd meet somebody like that when I grew up.  From then on every time I saw Georgann Johnson-a thousand times or so-I'd remember her from this.

 

Someone else mentioned a series he did after Man with a Camera.  It was called Redigo with Richard Egan-how's that for a "two-fer", ladies-and Ryan O'Neal.  He played a tough but soft-hearted ranch hand and I kept waiting for him to finally catch fire and become a star.   

 

The sad thing for me is that after it happened that soft side all but disappeared and he ended up a one-note "action" star who mostly left me cold.  The Mechanic was interesting and I know a lot of people like Mr. Majestyk  but, except for Breakheart Pass,  I found him mostly hard to watch after that.

 

From Noon til Three was a cautionary tale of how we the public make media stars out of people who don't deserve it and will believe anything if it's pitched right.  The end, when the woman doesn't even recognize her "great love" when he returns, says it all. I wonder if the Bronsons were speaking for themselves and many of their friends.

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Top Billed:  How did you get to see "The Jerry Bell Story" episode of The Millionaire?  Obviously, I know it well. 

 

This is where I first remember seeing him and fell head over heels in love at age 10.  I didn't think he was ugly at all; the gentle spirit he showed in the role won me over.  I hoped I'd meet somebody like that when I grew up.  From then on every time I saw Georgann Johnson-a thousand times or so-I'd remember her from this.

I found 'The Jerry Bell Story' on YouTube. A horrible copy of it, since someone had filmed it off Me-TV a few years back with a hand-held camera. But at least it's there, until CBS/Paramount decides to put the entire series on home video (someone on another board said episodes from The Millionaire air intermittently on the Decades network, but I do not know how often). 

 

As I indicated in my earlier post, I had read about episodes of the show and picked Bronson's to watch first because the concept seemed interesting. Since I knew he was not an ugly man, I thought maybe they would have him wearing a fake scar or a mask, sort of like the Beast to Johnson's Beauty. But they didn't resort to those gimmicks-- instead, we get Bronson in 1958 just as he appeared back then. But the story works, because he has a psychological condition which makes him think he's not attractive, and probably that low-self esteem is what turned women off. When he meets the gal played by Johnson, he seems freer to be himself and share his vulnerable side with her. It's a shame that he lost some of the tenderness in his later screen roles.  

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I found 'The Jerry Bell Story' on YouTube. A horrible copy of it, since someone had filmed it off Me-TV a few years back with a hand-held camera. But at least it's there, until CBS/Paramount decides to put the entire series on home video (someone on another board said episodes from The Millionaire air intermittently on the Decades network, but I do not know how often). 

 

 

 

Thank you a thousand tines over!  I don't care how bad it is; I choked at the ending as I did 60 years ago. 

 

I also remember another choice The Rev. John Hardin Story and watched it.  Marion Ross played his daughter; who knew 10 years later she'd be "Mrs. Cunningham" who would have probably watched the show had she been a real person.  There are also some other series of that era on the side that I can see later on.

 

This is one of those wonderful surprises that you all are constantly helping me discover and I appreciate every one.  The late Fred C. Dobbs was always coming up with them and it's nice to know others are doing likewise.  Love you all!   

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Thank you a thousand tines over!  I don't care how bad it is; I choked at the ending as I did 60 years ago. 

 

I also remember another choice The Rev. John Hardin Story and watched it.  Marion Ross played his daughter; who knew 10 years later she'd be "Mrs. Cunningham" who would have probably watched the show had she been a real person.  There are also some other series of that era on the side that I can see later on.

 

This is one of those wonderful surprises that you all are constantly helping me discover and I appreciate every one.  The late Fred C. Dobbs was always coming up with them and it's nice to know others are doing likewise.  Love you all!   

Yes, the ending is very powerful, when she sees Bronson again, with her sight now having been restored. 

 

I didn't watch the Reverend Hardin episode, but based on your enthusiasm, I will make a point of looking at it tonight. :)

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After thinking about it..

I've only ever watched two movies Charles Bronson was in:

 

This Property is Condemned

House of Wax

 

He isn't the star in either...

I need to watch more Charles Bronson films.

 

 

I just watched The Great Escape (1963) for the first time last night and enjoyed it very much. It was sad, and made me angry, but a great movie.

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I just watched The Great Escape (1963) for the first time last night and enjoyed it very much. It was sad, and made me angry, but a great movie.

 

 

Isn't it a fabulous film?

 

I have seen it about 100 times, so I skipped it last night and tried to pare down my PVR movies.  I read the book that was a biography on The Great Escape when I was in junior high and was intrigued then.

 

I love this movie and most of the actors in it are among my favourites where I want to see everything they were in.

 

It does make you angry about the 50.  That was the point.

 

It did achieve the goal of taking Nazis away from the front, but it came at a huge cost.

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Isn't it a fabulous film?

 

I have seen it about 100 times, so I skipped it last night and tried to pare down my PVR movies.  I read the book that was a biography on The Great Escape when I was in junior high and was intrigued then.

 

I love this movie and most of the actors in it are among my favourites where I want to see everything they were in.

 

It does make you angry about the 50.  That was the point.

 

It did achieve the goal of taking Nazis away from the front, but it came at a huge cost.

 

It was a great movie! James Garner had most of my attention, but Steve McQueen and the other actors were great too!!!

 

I'm wondering if they filmed in Austria/Germany/Switzerland, beautiful scenery.

 

Valid point about the 50. Still disheartening, like Schindler's List.

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It was a great movie! James Garner had most of my attention, but Steve McQueen and the other actors were great too!!!

 

I'm wondering if they filmed in Austria/Germany/Switzerland, beautiful scenery.

 

Valid point about the 50. Still disheartening, like Schindler's List.

 

 

I believe that they did film it on location .  They planted tress to make it look like it was just the same place, but it was actually a bit away from the actual POW camp which had  been used.  Lots of trees were cut down to create the set and then tress were planted in their place.

 

It used to be that everything was done on a sound stage far away from where things actually happened.  Then starting with On the Town where Gene Kelly wanted New York exteriors to be filmed in New York this started to change.

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