Friday, September 02, 2005

KInd of Watching It Movies: The Deathwish "Trilogy"

Chuck getting ready for a date...
Ok, there were five of them, but I couldn't remember what the fancy word for "five things" was. I've been thinking a lot about Charles Bronson, Chuck for short. I recently saw Deathwish 16 on cable--but let's not think about that one, let's restrict this conversation to the "classics."

Deathwish- (1974) This is prime Bronson. This was filmed in New York and certainly captured a gritty ambience. Bronson did this when he was still a tough guy--well not as corny as he became in later Deathwish films. In this movie, the standard is set, Paul Kersey loses his wife and then he starts firing off rounds. Good stuff. Herbie Hancock did the soundtrack. Jeff Goldblum makes an appearance as a thug that Kersey sends "up yonder."

Deathwish II (1982) Bronson took the whole shebang to a warmer climate. Everything was fine until Kersey's daughter was raped and murdered. That caused him to snap and get out the guns again. Oddly enough I pretty much had forgotten about this one. This is also noteable for the soundtrack that was done Jimmy Page. That's nice cover art as well--that movie's still crappy though. The soundtrack was released on Swan Song/Atlantic and the picture was availible through Warner Home Video in the '80s.

Deathwish 3(1985) Now this is the great one of the set. Diminshed expectations and cut costs always makes for potent cinema. This has on the cheap and groggy written all over it. Again Bronson's Kersey's life was all better until is putrid bad luck reared his head. Paul Kersey was indeed in love again. Deborah Raffin played his love interest and opposite Bronson she looked positively juvenile. No mention was made of the 50 year age difference between the two. Good thing. Since the title of the movie is indeed Deathwish 3 and not Paul Kersey's Happy Endings, we can tell which way the "love affair" went. Ever the innovator, Bronson manages to make 1985's Deathwish 3 look like the worst day ever in 1988. Martin Balsam lends hammy assistance.

Deathwish 4: The Crackdown (1987) Just when folks were telling "Chuck" to "ease up" on making such recondite masterpieces, he brought us another one. Admittedly I couldn't make it for this one, the last thing I saw was Kay Lenz, and office and someone wearing an odd jacket. Bronson was pretty much phoning this one in from Ijustdontcaresville.

Deathwish 5: The Face of Death (1994) Charming title, I guess Charles needed to prime the pump at this late date. Talk about your total "so-what" efforts. I'm just shocked at the total gall of Bronson actually doing a Deathwish movie in 1994. For some reason I totally missed it. I must have been somewhere chasing a woman who didn't want me or somewhere smoking a stogie with my mind in a daze. Actually Bronson did do better work a little earlier with 1989's "Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects." This one centered on Kersey, ever the renaissance man, as a teacher. His lady love for this travesty, I mean movie, is Lesley Ann-Down. She's in the fashion industry and the mob and her ex-husband are giving her the business. Paul Kersey brings the firepower, again...


Notes: Here's some info. I plan on making a Deathwish movie. Charles Bronson? He's not with us anymore, but we can digitize something or other and its a go. So far all I've got is "Zombies Revenge," Katie Holmes and Martin Balsam as "Gramps."
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