Death Wish (1974) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"Death Wish" seems pretty tame today, but when it came out it caused a lot of " buzz". Charles Bronson played a bleeding heart liberal who turned to vigilante justice when his wife was killed by muggers. The New Yorker got himself a gun when he visited some gool ol' boys in Tucson, and he proceeded to carry it while wearing expensive clothing in bad neighborhoods and subway stations, just hoping that some muggers would come along so he could kill them.
The police are conflicted. They can't afford to have every potential victim in the city copy him, but they are impressed with the fact that the crime rate has dropped 50% since the vigilante started his crusade. He's taken out so many bad guys that he made the cover story of every major national newsmagazine, and maybe even "Highlights for Children", which held him up as a model for dealing with lunch money bullies. And the police commissioner doesn't want to face the possibility of prosecuting the city's most beloved guy, especially when that guy just lost his wife in a mugging death. So the high hats in the Department put their heads together and decide to find the vigilante and get him out of town, rather than arrest him or something.


Kathleen Tolan's breasts and buttocks were seen in the beating in Bronson's apartment.

A very young Jeff Goldblum bared his buttocks as an ethnic gang member.

They finally track down Bronson, and tell him to hit the highway. But where does he go? There's a surprise ending. All along he's been talking with his boss about moving to Tucson, which has no muggers to speak of, but in the final scene we see that he's been tramnsferred to Chicago, and he's already planning to blow away street crime in the Windy City. I guess they knew a sequel was a distinct possibility. In fact, there were several sequels. By the time it ran its course, Bronson was about 80 years old, and was blowing away street crime in Vatican City.

The movie really let you sympathize with Bronson, because

  • They show his wife and daughter brutally beaten and sexually abused.
  • They portray all his "victims" as real baddies, and Bronson never shoots anyone until they are about to attack him.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.78:1

  • No significant extras (just the original trailer)

It seems that people talked endlessly back then about the graphic gang beating of the two women, and the emotional manipulation of the movie, which virtually espoused vigilante justice.

Too bad that the times have passed it by, because it's no longer possible to feel the emotional response it provoked at the time. In the last quatrer of a century we have seen enough on screen that this film seems tame in comparison. It's still watchable, but you won't feel Bronson's rage with him, as people did back then.

Look for Christopher Guest (a cop) and Jeff Goldblum (one of the gang) in small parts.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.2.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. Watchable, but not inspiring.

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