Charles Bronson had a long and successful working relationship with British director Michael Winner. Their six-film partnership began with the 1972 western Chato’s Land and was cemented with The Mechanic (1972), with Charles Bronson playing a veteran hit man, and the box-office smash Death Wish (1974), the defining urban revenge film of the 1970s and the film that catapulted Bronson to superstar status in his fifties.
The Stone Killer (1973), their third collaboration, arrived in theaters less than two years after Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry (1971) and turned the maverick cop into a cultural icon. Bronson plays New York police detective Lou Torrey, a loner cop in the Harry Callahan vein who prefers confrontation to dialogue. Bronson was 51 when he shot the film and while his craggy face betrays his age, he’s very much the man of action on screen, running up staircases, climbing down fire escapes, chasing suspects through streets and alleys, and in one scene leaping straight up into the air and onto a table from a standing start, as graceful as a cat. After killing yet another suspect in a shoot-out, he resigns and relocates from the Big Apple to the LAPD, where he’s partnered with a slow-witted bigot (Ralph Waite of The Waltons) and uncovers a conspiracy that leads to highest levels of the mob.
Plays on TCM on Tuesday, August 27