stick it to The Man, World War II prison camp classic The Great Escape. The painting by Seattle's Jim Blanchard will be a nice addition to my wall of stuff in the new apartment's Den/Dammage Pit West. The gift coincided with me reading James Garner's (Charm In Peace) memoirs, The Garner Files where he briefly describes his encounters with the granite faced action star. This comes on the heels of rereading the musings of other luminaries of the time like director John Sturges, assistant director Robert Relyea and producer Walter Mirisch over the summer.
Garner describes his Great Escape co-star as a pain in the ass with a chip on his shoulder. The two nearly came to blows over a poker game but years later had a surprisingly pleasant dinner together along with their wives. Garner wasn't sure if Bronson held a grudge but he sure did.
Assistant Director turned producer turned production executive Robert Relyea wrote of Bronson often in his 2008 book, Not So Quiet on the Set: My Life In Movies During Hollywood's Macho Era, as Relyea worked with Sturges who in turn cast Bronson in Never So Few, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Relyea was also on the set of Kid Galahad, an Elvis Presley starring vehicle featuring Bronson as his boxing trainer:
Executive producer of Kid Galahad, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape along with titles like West Side Story, In the Heat of the Night and The Pink Panther, Walter Mirisch writes briefly of Bronson in his 2008 memoir I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History:
A man who can be given much credit for Bronson's rise in Hollywood is Dammaged Goods Hall of Famer John Sturges, director of Bad Day at Black Rock, Escape From Fort Bravo, Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Ice Station Zebra. Sturges worked with Bronson multiple times when Charlie was up and coming and once when the former coal miner had hit the big time. From Glenn Lovell's 2008 study Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges:
Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas that cemented them into silver screen legends? While they might have come off as assholes to some, they weren't fucking assholes judging by the fact that Bronson was married to Jill Ireland for decades and brought his 7 children to every movie location to keep the family close. Once McQueen trusted you, he was your friend and you were not his lackey while Douglas' hard headed attitude and disdain for the status quo helped break the Black List in the 50's. That charismatic, seemingly selfish yet determined mindset backed by the thought that any of them could deck you if necessary gave us a litany of macho, "get the job done" types that went dormant in the 70's but was resurrected in the 80's with driven descendants Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme who capitalized on their accents, hyper developed bodies and self belief to create their own sub-genre of film. Like Frank Sinatra, they did it their way.