Hollywood first knew Charles Bronson as Charles Buchinsky. Beginning in 1951, a string of uncredited roles eventually led to memorable turns in a few well known pictures, among them Andre de Toth’s House of Wax (which I’ve had the good fortune to see on 35mm and in 3D!) and, later, de Toth’s Crime Wave (due any day now for the Shades Of Grey treatment). He dropped the Slavic-sounding Buchinsky when the House Un-American Activities Committee got under way, taking his well-known surname from the Bronson Gate at Paramount Studios.
Few leading men exuded such effortless masculinity. Rightfully known for his work in The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, and Death Wish, here are a few Bronson pictures you might have missed.
Once Upon A Time In The West
Sergio Leone, 1968
Bronson’s harmonica-playing gunman kills with a vengeful purpose in this must-see spaghetti western.
Terence Young, 1971
When I first heard about this film, I almost didn’t believe it. Bronson, Toshiro Mifune, Alain Delon, and Ursula Andress in the same film? Boy, you better frakking believe it. This movie is a-mazing.
Michael Winner, 1972
Not to be confused with this year’s Jason Statham starring remake, this hit man picture oozes with a quiet cool.
Richard Fleischer, 1974
Written by Elmore Leonard (and based on his novel), Bronson’s melon farmer refuses the local labor racket, igniting their wrath. Too bad for them.
Peter Hunt, 1981
Set in 1930s Canada, Bronson’s lone trapper breaks up a dogfight, taking one of the wounded animals as his own. Lee Marvin and Carl Weathers come to his aid when the dog’s owners come calling.