My first blu ray purchase from Twilight Time.
I for one have always thought this to be a top notch Charles Bronson thriller. Not quite a slasher film but awfully close with Bronson as a cop looking to take down a crazed killer who commits his murders in the nude.
If I was going to shell out the extra dollars to have one of the 3000 limited release copies then this disc was going to have to have something extra above the trailer that was included on the MGM DVD release I scored a few years back. Thankfully there is an audio commentary here featuring film historian David Del Valle, Bronson’s frequent collaborator and producer, Pancho Kohner and casting director John Crowther. Add in some cool radio spots along with the usual trailer and out came the credit card.
If you are not familiar with this flashy J. Lee Thompson effort it casts Bronson looking to take down killer Gene Davis before he continues his spree of killing. Teamed with young gun Andrew Stevens as his partner the duo conduct their homicide case getting nowhere as Davis has an iron clad alibi for each murder.
Bronson doesn’t exactly play legal here and takes a shot at planting evidence only to have it backfire when Geoffrey Lewis as the defence lawyer gets Stevens to dig for the truth behind the questionable evidence against his client.
With Davis back on the streets he marks Bronson’s daughter, Lisa Eilbacher for death. Time for Bronson the executioner to step forward.
The film is presented in widescreen as was the DVD from MGM previously but it’s the commentary that sells it for me. As a fan of the mustached one I find there is generally very little information available other than the usual fare. A couple of early rather bland bios when he was at the height of his fame, films of books and an A&E episode on biography. No definitive book has yet to be written on the man though a good one has been put out on the Death Wish series that I can recommend by Paul Talbot.
During the commentary overseen by Del Valle, Kohner tells of the films origins and it’s being sold at Cannes based on a title and it’s star. Released by Cannon Films which currently seem to be going through a rediscovery period there is plenty of information here about that studio and it’s caretakers, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Bronson along with Chuck Norris would become the studios biggest money makers.
Most of the actors within are touched upon with Andrew Stevens spoken of very highly. Wilford Brimley, Lewis, Davis and company all receive some coverage but the majority of the conversations focus on Bronson’s life and career. Attention is also given to the life and career of producer Kohner whose Mother was Lupita Tovar. She had starred in the 1931 version of Spanish Dracula in the Mina role.
Kohner talks of their past films together including The White Buffalo and their next title in 1984 which turned out to be another exciting Bronson actioner, The Evil That Men Do. John Crowther served as the casting director on that film as well and offers some stories from that film’s production and behind the scenes stories of Bronson and his long time wife, Jill Ireland.
J. Lee Thompson naturally comes into the conversations not just as this film’s director but he also had worked with both Kohner and Bronson repeatedly over the years starting in 1976 on St. Ives. In total J. Lee would direct 9 Bronson films but is probably best remembered for two films of the sixties, The Guns of Navarone and Cape Fear.
Turns out our historian David Del Valle was actually employed by Cannon Films back in their heyday so even he himself serves as more than just a moderator during the film’s running time offering some of his own memories and stories.
Getting back to the film itself I will leave with a quick story…..
When 10 to Midnight was released in 1983 I was not quite old enough to get in as it carried the dreaded R rating. Had to be 18. Still, in my best attempt I approached the booth and attempted to buy a ticket. No I.D. meant no admittance. I wasn’t giving up that easily. I cajoled an older guy (older than me anyway) into getting me a ticket. He passed it off to me and I made my ill fated attempt to gain access to the screening room. That damn lady at the ticket window was too sharp and caught sight of me giving my ticket to the door man and stormed out of her booth and sent me packing with my tale between my legs. Thankfully the VHS days were fast approaching though I did have to wait another year or so before finally getting to see the action hero of my youth do his thing bringing justice to the streets.
Not for the faint of heart but far more tame than what is now splattered across the screen, 10 to Midnight is a Charles Bronson flick worth catching.