Bronson’s Loose Again : On The Set With Charles Bronson
By author Paul Talbot.
I see the name Bronson on a book cover and out comes the credit card. Paul Talbot continues breaking down the career of one of cinema’s great tough guys with this insight into many of the later films of the mustached icon. Talbot had previously released a book on the Death Wish films titled Bronson’s Loose.
Far from a biography, this 400 plus page read gives us chapter sized essays on various films from Bronson’s career. Sprinkled in to the mix are interviews from the likes of Robert F. Lyons who starred in three films with Charlie and has some great information to pass on to us students of film history including his almost starring in the Jan-Michael Vincent role of The Mechanic back in 1972.
Films covered include….
From Noon Till Three
Love and Bullets
10 to Midnight
The Evil That Men Do
Act of Vengeance
Messenger of Death
Kinjite : Forbidden Subjects
Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus
The Sea Wolf
Donato and Daughter
The Family of Cops Trilogy
Reading thru the chapters makes me wish I could see the missing fight scene and other footage of Hard Times, probably his best role opposite another tough guy legend, James Coburn as well as the original cut of the doomed Cabo Blanco.
There is little doubt that Mr. Talbot is a Bronson fan. He’s more than kind to our action hero in covering the latter portion of his films that were mostly produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus for the notorious Cannon Films Company. He’s conducted interviews to get insight from many of the people who populated the co starring roles from the above titles including Kathleen Wilhoite who may have had the best female role opposite Bronson over his entire career, Jill Ireland included.
From what I’ve read and heard about Bronson, he always seemed aloof on set and rarely made friends easily. If one reads Richard Fleischer’s autobiography, you’ll get an insight to just how insensitive Bronson could be. Fleischer referred to him as Mr. Personality concerning his time directing Bronson in the 1974 action fest, Mr. Majestyk. Paul Koslo who played one of the main baddies in the flick worked with Bronson in a trio of films and I have a feeling tried to go out of his way not to be overly critical of Bronson for the quotes used in this book. Paul also starred in The Stone Killer and Love and Bullets. Always as a heavy.
With the majority of this book focusing on his 1980’s films and television flicks of the 90’s, it’s interesting to notice the contrast of what coworkers had to say about him. Those who worked with him during his later years all seem to agree he was an extremely shy man who kept quiet and to himself. Once he got to know them, he would come slowly out of his shell and they would get past his intimidating presence and the reputation of his on screen man of violence.
Prolific actress Diane Ladd who knew Bronson off screen and worked with him in the second Family of Cops film had a great quote concerning the real life Bronson. “He was one of the most gentle and ethical persons I’ve ever been privileged to meet. Everybody loved him. I wish there were more people like him. And I wish he still around. He was so lovely.” These kind words were echoed by many within the pages of Talbot’s book.
Jan Gan Boyd played opposite Bronson in Assassination as his love interest. I remember when I saw this film knowing full well Bronson’s age and thinking to myself at the time “way to go Charlie.” She had to be a good thirty years younger than Bronson. Boyd too had kind things to say telling of how Charlie saved her from doing an uncomfortable nude scene and being a guest in his home for the Christmas holidays. Can you imagine going to the Bronson home for Christmas dinner and sitting down at a table with Bronson, Lee Marvin and George C. Scott? Count me in!
Bronson fans should rejoice and grab a copy of this while at the same time hope a third volume may be forthcoming covering Charlie’s other titles like his European ventures of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
For a fun look at one of my live takes celebrating the movie posters of Charles Bronson, click here to give it a look.