Friday, December 4, 2015

Damme Words: Bronson's Loose Again!

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I demolished Paul Talbot's Bronson's Loose Again! On the Set with Charles Bronson, a new companion volume to his original Chuck Bronson and Death Wish study released in 2006. Through in depth interviews old and exclusive with writers, actors, producers, directors and more, Talbot provides a fascinating look at the iconic movie star and 18 of his films from the mid-1970's to his final performance in 1999. A large chunk of the book looks at his infamous Cannon Films period where the stone faced onscreen tough guy churned out schlocky money makers for Go-Go producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. I hadn't read Loose as Death Wish has never been my favorite Bronson flick and I've never even seen the sequels. But now I'll have to do both as Loose Again is a terrific, informative and interesting read on one of my favorite movie personalities.

Hard Times is far and away my favorite Bronson leading vehicle and there's some great stuff here on the making of the Great Depression set, New Orleans street fighting tale. Each chapter gives you insight on the development, production and release of each film along with personal encounters with the man himself. After already reading the excellent Menacing Face Worth Millions: A Life of Charles Bronson by Brian D'Ambrosio and seeing multiple interviews, I was well aware of Bronson's standoffish attitude and sometimes off-putting lack of social effort. Some of my favorites from Loose Again include Bronson putting his hands on the back and chest of a co-star to move him off a sidewalk to size him up and telling a fan he didn't take photos, sign autographs or shake hands. While it's funny and awesome to read, in real life if that happened to you, you'd think that guy was a total dick. But he was who he was so I can respect it. A little more light is shed into his workout regimen that built an impressive physique that includes having a cup of coffee upon rising and going on a two mile run. A second, evening two miles would be added to reach optimal condition. Climbing a rope only using his arms is repeated but a strict diet of small meals with a weekly or monthly indulgent steak dinner may explain why he was so grumpy, is revealed.

As he got older, Bronson seemed to mellow out as many co-stars from the 80's mention becoming friends with him and the star being nothing but warm and supporting. While Bronson was a star worldwide, he never quite got his due in America. With his career waning, Bronson would end up making several films with Cannon Films, collecting a hefty $1 million bucks per flick for the likes of Death Wish sequels, 10 to Midnight and Messenger of Death. Only needing his face on a poster to insure foreign pre-sales, Bronson was one of the biggest stars of the emerging mini-studio along with martial artist Chuck Norris. A teaming of the two was planned for The Delta Force but pre-sales didn't justify the salaries of both Chucks. Through it all, Bronson never tried to produce his own vehicles like Steve McQueen or Kirk Douglas but preferred to play what audiences expected him to, a quiet ass kicker ready to explode.

Loose Again also provides insight on wife and frequent co-star Jill Ireland who was the kind and outgoing energy to Bronson's grumbling, perennially pissed off side. Bronson's inner nice guy is exposed as we learn about his homeless drug addict brother and adopting a family friend after her parents died among other snippets. All in a great book for action movie junkies or film buffs alike. Until next time, no dice! And this ain't ova!

1 comment:

  1. The Bronson book sounds extremely interesting! Thanks for the highlight, Duvien!
    And it's been a minute since I've perused the site. Looking forward to catching up!