Does the term “workaholic” apply to you?
Sometimes I think it applies to me. Other times, I feel I don’t do enough work and waste too much time.
Perhaps I’m too hard on myself.
The other day, over on Reddit, the topic of Charles Bronson’s 1974 film Mr. Majestyk came up. Adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel (many of his novels were adapted to the screen, including Hombre, 52 Pick Up, Jackie Brown, etc. etc.), the movie’s story is intriguing: Bronson is Vince Majestyk, a melon farmer (!) who runs up against the mob and a fierce hitman, all while trying to keep his crop going.
It’s an oddball yet very fun film, and the topic of 1970’s era Bronson films perked my interest. He’s one of those actors that was around a very, very long time but didn’t achieve true leading man stardom until he was at least a decade after beginning his career.
His very first role was in a 1949 TV show and he bounced between TV and movies for a while, mostly in relatively smaller roles. In 1960 he joined the all-star cast of The Magnificent Seven and that may well have been his first breakout role. He would go on to star with another all-star cast in The Great Escape in 1963. Between that time he was in plenty more TV roles.
It wasn’t until the very late 1960’s that Charles Bronson became a legitimate leading man in theatrical movies and left co-starring TV show roles behind (he would appear in a few TV movies, though), and from that point and through the 1970’s he was on a tear, appearing in an incredible amount of movies.
Anyway, for the hell of it, I wrote the following (I have made some minor edits/additions) in response to the Mr. Majestyk recommendation:
While going down the Charles Bronson 1970’s movie era rabbit hole, I recommend you check out these films as well. I’m not giving you all the films Bronson was in in the 70’s, and arguably the most famous is Death Wish, but I chose not to include it as I wanted to recommend films that might not be so well known:
Red Sun (1971) Bronson stars with Ursula Andress, Alain Delon, Capuccine, and (reads notes) Toshiro Mifune?! in an oddball western involving a samurai sword.
Chato’s Land (1972) Bronson stars as Chato, a half-Indian who in the movie’s opening minutes is goaded by a racist Sheriff into drawing and killing the man, which sets off a long manhunt to capture him. Bronson barely speaks in what is mostly a symbolic role, but the film wonderfully presents the whole “a few rotten apples” concept regarding the posse sent after him and, despite the film’s age, can be viewed as interesting symbolism with today’s politics. (I recently reviewed the film here)
The Mechanic (1972) Most may remember the remake and sequel with Jason Statham. Terrible films, IMHO, compared to the original which features Bronson as a experienced hitman who takes on a hotshot newcomer, played by Jan Michael Vincent, and plenty of games are soon afoot. Features a spectacular (IMHO!) ending. (I wrote about that film here, in the entry regarding the passing of Jan Michael Vincent)
Hard Times (1975) Bronson and James Coburn are illegal boxer and his “promoter”. Wonderful early script/direction by the great Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours, etc.).
Breakheart Pass (1975) a favorite of mine and based on a novel by Alistair Maclean. Bronson gets involved in a train ride with various shady characters and murder. In some respects, it plays out sorta/kinda like Murder on the Orient Express in the Wild West!
The White Buffalo (1977) Perhaps the most bizarre film on this list features Bronson as Wild Bill Hickok who meets up with Crazy Horse and they go hunting for the mythical beast. Part Jaws in the Wild West (!!!) part head trip, I nonetheless find the film a fascinating and unique work. (I reviewed that film here)
Telefon (1977) I conclude this list with this Don (Dirty Harry, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers) Siegel directed film. Bronson plays a Russian agent tasked to stop a rogue Russian scientist who intends to awaken sleeper agents within our country. The sleeper agents, once awoken, will carry out murders and cause considerable destruction. A great thriller, IMHO!
Charles Bronson starred in an incredible 24 films between 1970 and 1979. If you do the math, it meant each year you could expect to see a whopping 2.4 new Charles Bronson films!
Think about that!
Compare that to some of the bigger stars today. Regardless of what you think of him, Tom Cruise is an incredibly prolific actor and regularly appears/stars in films (very rarely -such as his appearance in Tropic Thunder– is he in a more minor role in any film).
Here’s his stats:
From 1981 (his first role) to 1989 Tom Cruise was in 12 movies. The early ones were co-starring/more minor roles.
From 1990 to 1999 Tom Cruise was in 10 movies, one a year.
From 2000 to 2009, he was in 11 movies.
From 2010 to the present, add another 11 movies.
Currently, he has 5 projects in various stages of production.
Regardless, one of the more prolific modern actors has managed less than half the number of films Mr. Bronson did in the 1970’s.
I know an argument can be made that many of Mr. Bronson’s films of that time were relatively low budget affairs that didn’t require the huge effects of modern films. They were likely made and released very quickly.
You have to give it to Mr. Bronson. I grant you the last decade or so of his work following the 1970’s involved many, many cheesy and/or poorly written material.
But the man worked.
I suppose in conclusion, one could say that compared to Charles Bronson during the 1970’s, we’re all slackers!