A New York City architect becomes a one-man vigilante squad after his wife is murdered by street punks in which he randomly goes out and kills would-be muggers on the mean streets after dark.



(novel), (screenplay)

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Steven Keats ...
Stephen Elliott ...
Kathleen Tolan ...
Fred J. Scollay ...
District Attorney (as Fred Scollay)
Chris Gampel ...
Edward Grover ...
Lt. Briggs (as Ed Grover)
Freak #1
Christopher Logan ...
Freak #2


Open-minded architect Paul Kersey returns to New York City from vacationing with his wife, feeling on top of the world. At the office, his cynical coworker gives him the welcome-back with a warning on the rising crime rate. But Paul, a bleeding-heart liberal, thinks of crime as being caused by poverty. However his coworker's ranting proves to be more than true when Paul's wife is killed and his daughter is raped in his own apartment. The police have no reliable leads and his overly sensitive son-in-law only exacerbates Paul's feeling of hopelessness. He is now facing the reality that the police can't be everywhere at once. Out of sympathy his boss gives him an assignment in sunny Arizona where Paul gets a taste of the Old West ideals. He returns to New York with a compromised view on muggers... Written by Don Hoffman

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Vigilante, city style -- Judge, Jury, and Executioner See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

24 July 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sidewalk Vigilante  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The early draft of the script had the vigilante being inspired by seeing a fight scene in High Noon (1952). Michael Winner decided on a more elaborate scene, involving a fight scene in a recreation of the Wild West, taking place in Tucson, Arizona. See more »


Throughout the movie, the same People Magazine cover with Ochoa on it appears frequently. People publishes weekly, and since the film takes place over the course of several weeks (presumably), it is unlikely that the same issue would continue showing up so frequently, especially at the newsstand shown in the film. See more »


Paul Kersey: Nothing to do but cut and run, huh? What else? What about the old American social custom of self-defense? If the police don't defense us, maybe we ought to do it ourselves.
Jack Toby: We're not pioneers anymore, Dad.
Paul Kersey: What are we, Jack?
Jack Toby: What do you mean?
Paul Kersey: I mean, if we're not pioneers, what have we become? What do you call people who, when they're faced with a condition or fear, do nothing about it, they just run and hide?
Jack Toby: Civilized?
Paul Kersey: No.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Actresses Olympia Dukakis ('Cop at the Precinct') and Marcia Jean Kurtz as Marcia Jean-Kurtz ('Woman at Airport') get credited in opening credits only. There's no mention of them in the closing credits. See more »


Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »


Party People
Written and Performed by Herbie Hancock
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

When push comes to shove, make way for Bronson!
4 November 2003 | by (Sacramento, CA) – See all my reviews

Charley Bronson portrays Paul Kersay, a mild mannered soul who's life is turned upside down when some punks ruin his happy life. After some deep soul searching, Charley comes to the conclusion that all those punks out there walking the streets need a lesson. So, after donning a beannie cap and a heavy jacket, Charley decides to give them all a taste of their own medicine. The night time is the wrong time for muggers when Charley's around. This is the first film in what would later turn out to be a franchise of action/revenge flicks and it made Charley Bronson a household name and a part of Americana.

Highly recommended.


25 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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