He started out a character actor and became a star, one of the biggest international topliners of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties.
Bronson, born Charles Buchinsky, the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner in 1921, was a well-chiselled, taciturn tough guy who began his 50-year-plus — yes, more than a half century — career during Hollywood’s late classic period (thus our interest), and flourished as major marquee name until 1999. (He died in 2003 at the age of 81.)
We suspect our younger followers will know Bronson for those five Death Wish movies he starred in variations of a mild-mannered architect who avenges the murders of his wife and rape of his daughter in crime-infested, 1970’s New York City.
Or, perhaps, for his quietly heroic role in director Sergio Leone’s memorable western, Once Upon A Time In The West. (Watch for him the film’s startling opening scene.) Or, for his bare-knuckles boxer role in the Depression-era Hard Times. Or, of course, the classic 1960 western, The Magnificent Seven, director John Sturges adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai.
In any case, we doubt our younger readers will readily recall Bronson’s 1951 debut at the age of 30, in a Gary Cooper item, You’re In The Navy Now.
In fact, it wasn’t until his early Fifties that Bronson fully hit his stride. It took that long for lines, sleepy eyes and a drooping moustache to soften the sculptured Lithuanian rock often cast as Indian, writes critic David Thomson.
Up until then he had been a solid supporting player, often as a thug, in some surprising productions. These are the ones that are the subjects of today’s (Early) Bronson Quiz. We’ll provide the clues and hints (including pictorial cues),and you identify the movies. (As usual, answers tomorrow.) Ok? Here we go.
1) Question: It seemed that Bronson’s specialty early in his career was playing young, aspiring gangsters. He succeeds nicely in this 1953 film noir directed by Andre DeToth and starring Sterling Hayden as a seen-it-all cop and Gene Nelson (of all people) as the put-upon hero. The name of this picture is…….(see below). (Note: The title listed below is NOT the picture’s current title. What is?)
2) Question: This 1953 picture features Vincent Price in a typically manic role as a real nasty who relies on Bronson as his evil assistant. (Hint: The movie was released in 3-D.)
3) Question: Bronson actually got some favorable notices for his role as “Pittsburgh” (?) in this 1954 Gary Cooper western, which actually had a pretty solid cast including actress Denise Darcel. The movie is…..
4) Question: Below is Bronson in the leading role in this low-budget crime biopic about ‘Public Enemy No. 1.’ Identify this fellow and you’ve got the title of the picture…
5) Question: Bronson does indeed get out the greasepaint to play an American Indian (‘Blue Buffalo’) in this 1957 Sam Fuller western starring Rod Steiger. The picture is………