Friday, April 13, 2012

too masculine

My mother likes Charles Bronson movies.  She likes him because he always gets the bad guy.  Sergio Leone liked Charles Bronson too.  Leone said of Bronson that he was the greatest actor he'd ever worked with.  Leone once offered Bronson the role of the man with no name in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS but Bronson turned it down.  The role was then offered to Clint Eastwood that made him a star.  Leone finally got to direct Bronson in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.   Thinking about it, Bronson would've done well with the part if he had taken that initial to do the dollar trilogy instead of Eastwood.

Bronson started out in smaller rolls throughout the 1950's during the first decade of his acting career.  His career launched when THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN was released.   It's a another western that is well worth watching.  So I too am a fan Bronson.  He's remembered for the two previous movies I just mentioned, but also THE DIRTY DOZEN and THE GREAT ESCAPEIN ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, Bronson was the star of the show, not just a man among men as in previous films.

In the 1970's, Charles Bronson took on tough guy roles that began with the successful vigilante film DEATH WISH, a role that Henry Fonda had turned down because he was disgusted by the storyline.  I am not a fan of the Death Wish movies that followed.  They were low budget films that Bronson was paid well to do, but not as good as the original.  He did make some good tough guy movies from the 70's - 80's.  THE MECHANIC has recently be remade, but like always, you can't beat the original.  TELFON is an unusual spy- thriller about hunting down Russian sleeper agents that's well worth watching.

One of my favorites is MR. MAJESTYK where Bronson played a melon farmer who took on the mob.  Majestyk is a movie that seems to be overlooked, but it's a part that suited Bronson well.  Bronson is as low key and cool as Steve McQueen.  One film critic said that Bronson was like "a Clark Gable who had been left out in the sun too long".  True, his rugged face looked like a thousand miles of bad road - but it was an honest face.  Bronson once said of his looks, "I guess I look like a rock quarry that someone has dynamited."

Not too long ago Liam Neeson was in a movie called TAKEN.  It's a great action flick.  The entire time I was watching the film, I kept thinking to myself, "this is a Charles Bronson part".  Jodie Foster recently played a female version of Bronson in THE BRAVE ONE.

Not all of Bronson's movies are note worthy.  I used to rent his movies as they were released through out the 80's into the 90's.  He starred in a good many small production company (Cannon Films) B-movies that played on his Death Wish kind of character  They were low budget movies, yet his celebrity status commanded high a salary.  When he died, his net worth was 12.5 million dollars. 

I read where Bronson grew up in a very poor coal mining family.  His dad died when he was 10 years old and he took on the role of provider for the family.  He was so poor that he once had to go to school in his sister's dress because he didn't have anything to wear.  He was the first child in his family to graduate high school. When the war came along, like Clark Gable, he joined the AAF and served as an aerial gunner on a bomber.  Gable in a B-17 and Bronson in a B-29.  So Charles Bronson was more than a celluloid hero, he was a real hero.
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