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original title: Mr. Majestyk
duration: 1h 43min
tags: He didn't want to be hero... until the day they pushed him too far.
keywords: farm, farmer, organizedcrime, watermelon, ruralsetting, sportscar, key, policecar, dog, rescue, policedetective, police, goodversusevil, villainturnsgood, victimization, hiding, interracialrelationshi
'Mr. Majestyk' also came during the most lucrative phase of Charles Bronson's career, when moviegoers packed the house to see actioners like 'Red Sun,' 'Chato's Land,' 'The Mechanic,' and 'Death Wish.' Indeed, 1974 was probably the best season of all for Bronson, as 'Mr. Majestyk' and 'Death Wish' were running in theaters simultaneously. While lacking the controversy of Michael Winner's potboiler that spawned other vigilante films, 'Majestyk' still packs a wallop and is certainly one of the best productions that Bronson was associated with.
Bronson plays Vincent Majestyk, a Vietnam War veteran who owns a Colorado melon farm and values his peaceful existence. This changes when he returns to the farm one morning and finds his crop being picked by groupies of Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo), a young, scurvy blonde who is trying to make his way on the organized crime circuit. With a busload of Majestyk-hired Chicanos idling nearby, the former solider gives Kopas a sound beating and throws him off the grounds.
Kopas files bogus charges against Majestyk and he is soon arrested. While in the local jail, he encounters Frank Renda (Al Lettieri), a far more experienced crime boss with several murders on his r辿sum辿. The two men are later placed on a bus heading for court, which is intercepted by a group of Renda's cronies. Majestyk shrewdly hijacks the bus during a bloody shootout and takes Renda as his hostage into the nearby hills. Over the phone, he strikes a deal with Lieutenant McAllen (Frank Maxwell) to return Renda in exchange for dropping his charge. However, Renda escapes with his girlfriend Wiley (Lee Purcell) and Majestyk finds himself back where he started.
Renda becomes enraged over Majestyk's treatment of him and plots his death. Of course, Majestyk has plans of his own, which includes getting the melon crop in and saving his farm from bankruptcy. His new girlfriend Nancy Chavez (Linda Cristal), an organizer of the migrants, is very willing to help out in situations where the police sit idly and use Majestyk as their pawn of surveillance. While not offering any kind of philosophy or profound statement, 'Mr. Majestyk' turns out to be a solid action film in which the good guys win.
Vincent Majestyk is far more animated than Paul Kersey of 'Death Wish,' thanks largely to the fast-paced writing of Elmore Leonard. While Bronson may not give his best performance, it is certainly one of his most entertaining. This film was made when Bronson was younger and in peak physical condition. Besides a very good chemistry with Argentinian actress Linda Cristal, he shows uncharacteristic wit and plows through the action scenes, which are nicely choreographed. Cristal is also physically attractive and energetic, which helps her to keep a visibility that is uncommon amongst Bronson sidekicks.
In this good guys-versus-bad guys film, the bad guys are suitably obnoxious. Al Lettieri ('McQ') definitely looks and sounds the part, both burly and temperamental. Paul Koslo is most annoying as a hapless mafia wannabe who ends up as Renda's servant. There is a somewhat bad gal, this being Lee Purcell, who is little more than window dressing; her job is to look pretty and she is barely involved in the developments. The additional supporting cast gets the job done, including Frank Maxwell as gruff Lieutenant McAllen.
While basic and relaxed compared to the jarring films of Michael Winner, 'Mr. Majestyk' arguably has the best technical work of any Bronson film during the early 1970s. Its presentation is solid from the outset, with opening credits shown during a finely-constructed montage. The main theme by Charles Bernstein ('A Nightmare on Elm Street,' numerous television movies) is not very unique but easy to remember. Colorado's expansive scenery is used in full by cinematographer Richard Klein ('Camelot,' 'The Boston Strangler,' 'The Mechanic'), whose visuals are well-lit and pleasant. Continuity and overall editing by Ralph Winters ('Ben-Hur') are immaculate, as one would expect from a past Academy Award winner. One modest setback is the dubbing of Spanish accents, which falls victim to early 1970s audio technology.
'Mr. Majestyk' is required viewing for those interested in Bronson's legacy and a worthy selection for fans of 1970s actioners. A DVD is available from MGM/UA, which offers this 103-minute film in both widescreen and standard format with three-language subtitles; the theatrical trailer is included as an extra. 'Mr. Majestyk' is in excellent condition on this disc, with clear visuals, no visible artifacts, and balanced sound. The trailer is a different story, however, with audible fuzz at its beginning and considerable age marks. For a film over thirty years old, MGM has re-released 'Majestyk' with dignity.
*** out of 4 Mr. Majestyk is one of my favorite Charles Bronson action films. The plot which is a bit complex for an action film does not get in the way of any of the action. By the way Bronson whose real name was Buckinski must have been happy to play a person of Polish ancestry in this one, I believe it is one of the few times he did.
Bronson is Vincent Majestyk former army ranger who is now running a watermelon ranch. He's being squeezed by time because he needs to get his melons picked and to market in a matter of days and a local strong arm guy played by Paul Koslo tries to muscle him into hiring his crew.
Big mistake for Koslo, but not right then because he has sheriff Frank Maxwell arrest Bronson. While in jail Bronson also runs afoul of big time hit man Al Lettieri and when Lettieri finally escapes he's out to get him.
Bronson's willing to live and let live, but Lettieri crowds him and he's not given a choice. So he settles matters in the usual Bronson way.
Lettieri was really coming into his own during the early Seventies with villainous roles in The Godfather, The Getaway, and McQ. A year later the cinema lost him, a real tragedy because he was superb in any part he played.
Two women figure prominently in the proceedings. Linda Cristal who is an organizer for the United Farm Workers who Bronson aids and she in turn becomes pretty valuable to him. The second is Lee Purcell who plays a more modern version of a gangster moll from the Thirties.
Over 30 years since I first saw Mr. Majestyk in the theater and I still love the way Bronson turns from the hunted to the hunter. Except for some dutiful splattering of gore, it ticks along rather steadily, under Richard Fleischer's unruffled direction. There is a take-it-or-leave-it air that snugly suits the star's performance, or vice versa.
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