Blu-Ray Review – Mr. Majestyk

The year is 1974 and after 2 decades of playing bit parts Charles Bronson is about to become one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Bronson of course had already given iconic performances in films like Once Upon a Time in the West and The Great Escape but he hadn’t quite reached super stardom. 1974 saw the release of Death Wish which would become the role he is most famous for and he would reprise the role of Paul Kersey in 4 more films. The same year as Death Wish he made Mr. Majestyk which is a decidedly more liberal-minded film than the perceived fascism of Death Wish.

Bronson plays the watermelon farmer Vince Majestyk and this is years before Alex Cox redubbed the use of “motherfucker” in his film Repo Man with the more family friendly “melon farmer” and he is certainly a badass motherfucker in this. Bronson is also a ‘Nam vet and he hires skilled Mexican migrants to pick his watermelons and he runs off a seedy hoodlum who tries to have him hire some winos to do the job instead. He hits the hoodlum with a gun and he brings assault charges against Majestyk and ends up in jail. Majestyk has to decide to make a deal with the hitman Frank Renda (Al Lettieri) after his crew tries to get Renda out of police custody in an epic shootout.

Richard Fleischer is behind the camera for this film unlike Bronson’s then frequent collaborator Michael Winner who directed Death Wish and the existential tinged The Mechanic. Fleischer was a old fashioned Hollywood director who dabbled in everything such as Science Fiction, film noir, westerns, war films and even in the ‘8os he directed The Jazz Singer and Red Sonja. He directs Mr. Majestyk with a workman like quality but that’s just how he worked and it’s a well paced 100 minute action flick that will satisfy action fans and also fans of slightly oft kilter thrillers.

The screenplay was written by Elmore Leonard who would actually adapt his script in a novelization. The name Mr. Majestyk comes from his first crime book of note The Big Bounce (he wrote many acclaimed westerns before) which have had two poorly made adaptations over the years. Like the film’s direction it’s a workman like script but it’s hits all the correct spots so that it can be forgiven.

Signal One Entertainment’s disc is impressive with it’s range of special features. The disc firstly boosts a high def transfer that is impressively film like. The disc includes two newly shot interviews with actress Lee Purcell and the film’s cinematographer Richard H. Kline who also shot Flesicher’s noir tinged sci-fi masterpiece Soylent Green. The disc includes a commentary by Paul Talbot, author of Bronson’s Loose! The disc is rounded off by a still gallery of lobby cards, posters etc.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

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