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




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?


Audiences loved the film so much that Paramount raised the ticket price from from $3.50 to $4.00 per ticket. At that point, only The Godfather (1972) and The Great Gatsby (1974) had been as expensive. See more »


When Inspector Ochoa says that the first mugger killed by Kersey was carrying a clip, he was not, as some suggest, referring to a magazine as used in an automatic pistol but to a holster clipped to his belt which held the revolver. See more »


Jack Toby: We gotta let the cops handle this, Dad!
Paul Kersey: Yeah?
Paul Kersey: Well, what if the cops can't handle this, Jack?
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 »


References Superdad (1973) See more »


Paint Her Mouth
Written and Performed by Herbie Hancock
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Solid Fare
26 May 2006 | by (Manitoba, Canada) – See all my reviews

Here is a film whose quality and appeal, much like Sylvester Stallone's Rocky, may be overshadowed by a seemingly endless line of inferior sequels. But Death Wish is a real crowd-pleaser filled with emotion, drama, action and suspense. It's the story of Paul Kersey, a family man (and former Conscientus Objector in Korea) whose wife and daughter fall victim to a brutal attack at the hands of unknown thugs. Yet Kersey doesn't get mad, he gets even as a one-man judge, jury and executioner against those who prey on the innocent. Bronson delivers an underrated performance in a movie that constantly asks the viewer, "What would you do?"

25 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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What about the real culprits? Johnny0581
Paul's Tucson client never noticed a connection. larrydee19150
Liver and Spaghetti? smoovasbutter
What could they charge Paul Kersey for if caught? digital_groove
Thoughts about New York City e_aiberg
Disgusted at myself. WalterKovacks
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