Wednesday, 3 February 2010
MR MAJESTYK (1974)
Directed by: Richard Fleischer
Written by: Elmore Leonard
Starring: Charles Bronson, Al Lettieri, Linda Cristal, Lee Purcell, Paul Koslo
Bronson is Vincent Majestyk a melon grower trying to harvest his crop and get it in so he can get make some money. But it’s a hard life, what with mother nature conspiring against you, competition from other melon growers fierce and the existence of a lowly farmer just so darn hard in this rural drama about the hardships of life on the lower rung of the income ladder. Hang on, that’s not right. This is a Charles Bronson film. Yes, he is a melon grower trying to get his crop in but this is no rural drama about living a hard life off the land, this is still a full throttle action flick: car chases, gun fights and fisticuffs all included.
All joking aside and despite the rather odd, but novel, set up of Bronson being a melon farmer, he is still an ex-serviceman who falls foul of the law when he runs off some deadbeats trying to take over his patch. Sent to jail he finds himself on the same prison bus as mob hitman Renda (Lettieri) whose crew attempts a daring rescue of the incarcerated bad man. Things go spectacularly wrong and Majestyk seeing his chance to get his name clear, and get his crop picked, grabs Renda with the intention of handing him back over to the police. However, Renda escapes and swears to kill Majestyk himself. So, its up to Majestyk to strike back when he can and kill Renda first, all the while trying to make sure he gets his crop in and make some money.
A fine piece of hardboiled action with Bronson at his no nonsense best, Mr Majestyk is straight laced, tough talking, features regular bouts of fierce action and benefits from a sharp script from the great Elmore Leonard. Overly complex it may not be, the film is all the better for it as this a tale of a simple man just trying to get along with his simple life who keeps having to take up arms in an attempt to get a handle on circumstances that always seem to be out of his control. Bronson is his usual tough guy self but shows a little humanity under his rough exterior, embodying the everyman farmer. Al Lettieri (The Getaway, The Godfather), spits venom as the nasty Renda, a violent man who is used to getting his way but meets his match in the form of the quietly confidant Majestyk.
Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green) directs with a crisp and cool manner, no hard boiled beat missed as tough guys square off and the action explodes. Coming from the 70s heyday the action is low tech by today’s standards but packs a realistic punch as tension is well mounted and every shotgun blast is violently felt. The end shootout is a doozey and there are some impressive chase sequences and stunts involving a pick up truck that all add to the pulpy, pumped up action. Old school: best school.
A great 70s flick and one of Bronson’s finest, Mr Majestyk still rocks thanks to its simplicity, solid acting and tough action. And the fact it makes a melon farmer a believable bad ass. Cool stuff.