CRIMEWATCH: Mr. Majestyk
“You make sounds like you’re a mean little ass-kicker…only I ain’t convinced. You keep talking and I’m gonna take your head off.” – Vince Majestyk
During the 1970s Charles Bronson was in high demand in Hollywood. Every film he made seemed to be a hit with his fans. In 1974 he took on a role that would become one of his most iconic and loved. Mr. Majestyk tells the story of Vince Majestyk (Bronson) an ex- U.S. Army Ranger and Vietnam vet who owns a melon farm in rural Colorado. Majestyk is trying to get his latest crop of melons picked but runs into trouble when a new business opportunity is thrust upon him without his invitation. Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo) is a thug who brings Majestyk a group of bums to pick his melons for less money expecting an easy compliance. Majestyk already has a crew of migrant workers and with his strict iron will, he doesn’t take this disrespect lightly. Not to be trifled with by any man Majestyk decides to lay the smackdown on Kopas and is soon arrested for assault.
In jail Majestyk encounters a mob hitman named Frank Renda (Al Lettieri) who has a very deadly reputation as noted by another prisoner. Majestyk isn’t really impressed and proceeds to crack jokes about him. While being transported by bus to another prison, Renda’s crew stage a breakout but in the fray, Majestyk ends up stealing the bus with Renda in it after letting the other prisoners and guards out. His plan is to trade Renda back to the cops in exchange for his assault charges being dropped. Renda tries to make a deal with Majestyk and the two finally agree on a price. Renda gives Majestyk a number to call so he can inform his friend Wiley where they need to be picked up. Wiley (Lee Purcell) turns out to be Renda’s lover and she shows up to drive them both to freedom but Majestyk renigs on the deal, and let’s them know he’s not going to let the hitman go. With Renda still in cuffs, Majestyk orders Wiley to take them to the local jail but Renda gets hold of a gun Wiley has hidden in her pocketbook. The two men get into a struggle and Renda breaks free and tries to shoot Majestyk but misses and luckily he gets away alive. Renda now furious with Majestyk for being a fink, plans on getting revenge on him at any cost.
The situation becomes a explosive powder keg as Majestyk and his group of workers come under the wrath of Renda and his mob gang. Majestyk must fight Renda on his own terms when even the town police won’t get involved.
Bronson was perfect for the Majestyk character giving him a mix of his trademark stone cold toughness with flashes of ironic humor. This guy looks like a simple, quiet farmer on the surface but when he’s attacked he cannot be stopped or bargained with. There’s a great scene in a bar where the seething, vengeful Renda tells Majestyk he’s going to kill him and is swiftly sucker punched by our melonfarming hero in front of a pair of cops.
Mr. Majestyk was written by the great Elmore Leonard (Rum Punch, 52 Pick Up) who is known for his hard boiled, realistic, humorous crime and western novels.
To fans of 1970s crime/action cinema who haven’t already seen this, we highly recommend it!