199 user 88 critic

Death Wish (1974)

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)
4,463 ( 1,700)

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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

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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 time line of the "Death Wish" films gets slightly confusing. In Death Wish II (1982), when policeman Ochoa is speaking with Jill Ireland's character, he says Kersey "killed nine people in New York City four years ago". In Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), Officer Reiner, in a scene after the corpse of Officer Nozaki is found, speaks with a superior and says that Mrs. Kersey died in 1975, while his daughter died in 1981. The presence of Excalibur (1981) on a theater marquee towards the end of "Death Wish II" supports the placement of the events of that film in 1981. If one accepts Ochoa's placement of Kersey's New York rampage as four years prior to 1981, that would push much of the events of the original Death Wish (1974) to 1977. See more »


When Paul test fires the guns at the gun club in Tucson, he is clearly careful about putting on hearing protection, yet he does not put on any eye protection, which is required in gun ranges. Ames put on eye protection and he wasn't even the one shooting at the time. See more »


Freak #1: Goddamn rich cunt!
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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 »


Rich Country
Written and Performed by Herbie Hancock
Arranged and Conducted by Jerry Peters
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

unquestionably Charles Bronson's finest screen hour.
26 March 2001 | by See all my reviews

An animated performance by the normally stoic Charles Bronson lifts what would have been a standard revenge yard to new heights. Bronson plays Paul Kersey, a typical liberal New Yorker who struggles with his bleeding heart ideals after his family become the victims of a violent crime.

Frustrated by the police's inability to solve the crime, Kersey considers taking matters into his own hands. After much soul searching he begins taking to the streets and hunting criminals.

Soon punks start turning up dead. The press glorifies the killings. The public considers the vigilante a hero. The police search in vain for the killer. And Kersey slowly begins to enjoy his new mantle of dispenser of justice.

It all ends somewhat predictably albeit satisfactorily.

Kersey's transformation from arch-liberal to gun-toting Vigilante is classic. This is unquestionably Bronson's finest on screen hour.

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