EDITOR’S NOTE: This review originally appeared on the site on December 11, 2021. The Kino Lorber blu ray of this film has a gorgeous brand new 2K master, commentary by film historian Paul Talbot, the author of Bronson’s Loose*, interviews with Director of Photography Richard H. Kline and Lee Purcell, TV commercials and a trailer. You can get it from Kino Lorber.
Directed by Richard Fleischer (Compulsion, Fantastic Voyage, Soylent Green, Mandingo, The Jazz Singer) and written by Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Out of Sight), this film finds our pally Charles Bronson playing Vincent Majestyk, an ex-con, former U.S. Army Ranger instructor and current watermelon farmer who just wants to get his crop in on time.
Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo, Vanishing Point) tries to get Majestyk to pay protection money and ends up on the end of his own shotgun. He turns the table on our hero by bringing assault charges against him and Majestyk goes to jail before he can harvest his crops, potentially ruining his finances. So he does what you or I would: when gangster Frank Renda’s (Al Lettieri, The Godfather) men try to busy him loose, he kidnaps the crook himself and holds him for hostage. All he wants is to pick his melons.
The rest of the film finds the two men continually going at one another. Well, to be fair, Majestyk is only concerned with melons, whether in the field or owned by his love interest Nancy Chavez (Linda Cristal, who was on the TV show The High Chaparral and in the TV movie The Dead Don’t Die). Every time Renda, Kopas or any of their underlings try to take him down, he just laughs and gets over on them. Hey — it’s Bronson, you know?
I also love Lee Purcell in this movie, playing the gangster’s moll who carries a Bible everywhere she goes.
You have to love the tagline for this film: “
They also tried: “Why are they saying it’s the one movie you should see this year? Ask anyone who’s seen it. Anyone.”
This came out the same month as Death Wish and to show what a star Bronson was, when The Man with the Golden Gun underperformed, Mr. Majestyk played as a supporting feature underneath that Bond picture. I mean, there’s even a Turkish remake of this movie, Karpuzcu, which shows you just how big Bronson’s appeal was worldwide.
*Check out our interview with Paul here.