Directed by Michael Winner
Screenplay by Gerald Wilson
Based on a book by John Gardner
Cinematography: Robert Moore
Music by Roy Budd
Cast: Charles Bronson (Lou Torrey), Martin Balsam (Al Vescari), David Sheiner (Guido Lorenz), Norman Fell (Daniels), Ralph Waite (Mathews), Paul Koslo (Langley), Stuart Margolin (Lawrence), Jack Colvin (Jumper), John Ritter (Hart)
Mill Creek’s recent Blu-Ray release, Charles Bronson: 4 Movie Collection, offers up The Valachi Papers (1972), The Stone Killer (1973), Hard Times (1974) and Breakout (1975). There’s some good stuff there, especially Walter Hill’s Hard Times, and they all look terrific on Blu-Ray. It’s a nice set at a great price.
Charles Bronson made quite a few movies with Italian producer Dino De Laurentis in the 70s. It seems to have been a successful relationship for all concerned. Michael Winner first directed Bronson in Chato’s Land (1972), and they’d go on to do Death Wish (1974), which would send both of their careers in a certain direction. At this point in his career, Bronson was really on a roll.
The Stone Killer has Bronson as Lou Torrey, an undercover cop who comes upon a Mafia revenge plot — with a squad of Vietnam vets assembled by the Mob to pull off a number of hits. That provides a framework upon which shootings, torture, car crashes and other stuff can be hung. Bronson’s cool in this one, and he’s been surrounded by a top-notch cast — Martin Balsam, Norman Fell, Ralph Waite, and a couple of my 70s favorites: Paul Koslo and Stuart Margolin (Angel on The Rockford Files). The action’s very well done, they make great use of New York and LA locations, and there’s that 70s-film-stock look that’s so perfect for things like this.
Speaking of locations, there’s a scene near the middle of the picture, with Bronson visiting a hippie commune, that was shot at Moonfire Ranch outside LA. Built for Harper (1966) — it was the temple where the whacked-out holy man Strother Martin hung out. It’s still there today (the photo above is recent). The Doors and Jimi Hendrix played concerts there in the late 60s.
The Stone Killer looks great on Blu-Ray from Mill Creek. All four pictures in the set do. Columbia’s transfers are typically outstanding, and these are no exception. And these movies are Charles Bronson in his prime. And if the increased definition isn’t enough for ya, this will even save you some shelf space. Charles Bronson: 4 Movie Collection is a winner however you wanna look at it. Recommended.