Mr. Majestyk [1974]

Vince Majestyk (Charles Bronson) absolutely has to get his watermelon crop in, come hell or high water, and nothing in the world is going to stop him. Trouble comes, however, in the form of Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo), who tries to force Majestyk to use a crew of winos rather than Majestyk's hand-picked migrant crew. After Majestyk cleans his clock, Kopas swears out an assault complaint, and soon the melon grower finds himself in the county lockup. In jail he meets hit man Renda (Al Lettieri), and the two regard each other with hostility and suspicion. In a segment worthy of action director John Frankenheimer, Renda's pals try to break him out of a prison bus in a street shootout. Instead, Majestyk commandeers the bus and drives off with Renda, with the intention of using him as a pawn to get the charges dropped on himself…so he can get his melon crop in, of course. The script for Mr. Majestyk was written by none other than Elmore Leonard himself, and the rhythms of his hard-bitten prose are clear throughout. As expected with a Leonard story, there are plenty of plot flip-flops and more than a little tongue-in-cheek humor (the flinty Bronson even gets a few of the good lines). A word of warning: Vegetarians and those with sensitive temperaments may be disturbed by the machine-gun slaughter of hundreds of defenseless watermelons, in one of the movie's more sublime scenes. It's not great stuff, but Mr. Majestyk is a fast-moving '70s action flick that doesn't take itself too seriously and isn't above a blithely ridiculous plot device or two. --Jerry Renshaw

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