IMDb > Death Wish (1974)
Death Wish
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Death Wish (1974) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.0/10   21,480 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Brian Garfield (novel)
Wendell Mayes (screenplay)
Contact:
View company contact information for Death Wish on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 July 1974 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Vigilante, city style -- Judge, Jury, and Executioner See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
An interesting take on personal justice See more (183 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Charles Bronson ... Paul Kersey

Hope Lange ... Joanna Kersey

Vincent Gardenia ... Frank Ochoa
Steven Keats ... Jack Toby
William Redfield ... Sam Kreutzer

Stuart Margolin ... Aimes Jainchill
Stephen Elliott ... Police Commissioner
Kathleen Tolan ... Carol Toby

Jack Wallace ... Hank
Fred J. Scollay ... District Attorney (as Fred Scollay)
Chris Gampel ... Ives

Robert Kya-Hill ... Joe Charles
Edward Grover ... Lt. Briggs (as Ed Grover)

Jeff Goldblum ... Freak #1
Christopher Logan ... Freak #2
Gregory Rozakis ... Spraycan
Floyd Levine ... Desk Sergeant

Helen Martin ... Alma Lee Brown
Hank Garrett ... Andrew McCabe

Christopher Guest ... Patrolman Reilly
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ken Ackles ... Mugger in Park #1 (uncredited)
John G. Becher ... Subway Station Mugger #1 (uncredited)
Robyn Blythe ... Woman in Chicago (uncredited)
William Bogert ... Fred Brown (uncredited)
Bruce Brown ... Newsman (uncredited)
Robert Dahdah ... Man on street (uncredited)

Paul Dooley ... Cop at Hospital (uncredited)

Olympia Dukakis ... Cop at the Precinct (uncredited)
Hector Freeman ... Mugger on Street (uncredited)
Larry Gilman ... Man in Park (uncredited)
Beverly Goodman ... Little Bo-Peep (uncredited)
Trent Gough ... Crime Scene Photojournalist (uncredited)

Carson Grant ... Street Gang and Police Officer (uncredited)

John Herzfeld ... Train Mugger #2 (uncredited)

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs ... Mugger in Park #2 (uncredited)

Marcia Jean Kurtz ... Receptionist (uncredited)
Eric Laneuville ... Subway Station Mugger #2 (uncredited)

Damien Leake ... Alley Mugger #2 (uncredited)

Len Lesser ... Cop at the Precinct (uncredited)

Al Lewis ... Guard at Hotel Lobby (uncredited)

Sonia Manzano ... Grocery Clerk (uncredited)

Robert Miano ... Mugger (uncredited)

Jay Rasumny ... Architect in Office (uncredited)
S. Pearl Sharp ... Reporter (uncredited)
Lee Steele ... Office Security Guard (uncredited)

Directed by
Michael Winner 
 
Writing credits
Brian Garfield (novel)

Wendell Mayes (screenplay)

Produced by
Hal Landers .... producer
Bobby Roberts .... producer
Michael Winner .... co-producer
Dino De Laurentiis .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Herbie Hancock 
 
Cinematography by
Arthur J. Ornitz (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Bernard Gribble 
 
Casting by
Cis Corman 
 
Production Design by
Robert Gundlach 
 
Set Decoration by
George DeTitta Sr.  (as George DeTitta)
 
Costume Design by
Joseph G. Aulisi 
 
Makeup Department
Phil Rhodes .... makeup artist (as Phillip Rhodes)
Verne Caruso .... hairdresser (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Stanley Neufeld .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Larry Y. Albucher .... assistant director (as Larry Albucher)
Charles Okun .... assistant director
Ralph S. Singleton .... assistant director (as Ralph Singleton)
Howard Himmelstein .... dga trainee (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Connie Brink .... property master (as Conrad Brink)
Sante Fiore .... scenic artist
Richard Adee .... assistant property master (uncredited)
Joe Gerson .... assistant production designer (uncredited)
Robert H. Klatt .... set dresser (uncredited)
Carlos Quiles .... carpenter (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Alfred Cox .... dubbing editor
James Sabat .... sound recordist
Jim Shields .... dubbing editor (as James Shields)
Hugh Strain .... re-recordist
Arthur Bloom .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Robert Rogow .... boom operator (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Alan Gibbs .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Lou Barlia .... camera operator (as Louis Barlia)
Charles Kolb .... head grip
Willie Meyerhoff .... gaffer (as Willy Meyerhoff)
Don Biller .... camera assistant (uncredited)
Louis Cappeta .... grip (uncredited)
Joseph Di Pasquale .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
Jack Gereghty .... still photographer (uncredited)
Cornelius Hannan .... electrician (uncredited)
John Khorigan .... grip (uncredited)
Owen Marsh .... camera operator (uncredited)
Sal Martorano .... best boy (uncredited)
Richard Meyerhoff .... electrician (uncredited)
Jack Stager .... still photographer (uncredited)
Ken Thompson Sr. .... grip (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Frank Kennedy .... extras casting: locations (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Joseph W. Dehn .... wardrobe (as Joseph Dehn)
 
Editorial Department
William Lustig .... apprentice editor (uncredited)
Jim Rivera .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Herbie Hancock .... music performer
Herbie Hancock .... orchestrator
 
Transportation Department
James Lake .... driver (uncredited)
Harold 'Whitey' McEvoy .... transportation captain (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Stephen Cory .... assistant to director (as Steven Cory)
Dino De Laurentiis .... presenter
Barbara Robinson .... script supervisor
Ernest Anderson .... press agent (uncredited)
Sam Goldrich .... location auditor (uncredited)
Michael Kennedy .... production assistant (uncredited)
Adeline Leonard Seakwood .... production office coordinator (uncredited)
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
93 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:16 | Australia:R | Brazil:14 | Canada:R | Canada:R (Ontario) | Canada:13+ (Quebec) | Finland:K-18 (uncut) (2003) | Finland:K-18 (cut) (1974) | France:-16 | Germany:18 | Iceland:16 | Italy:T | Netherlands:16 | New Zealand:R16 | Norway:18 | Peru:14 | Singapore:M18 | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:X (original rating) | UK:18 (video rating) | UK:18 (re-rating) (2006) (uncut) | USA:R (Certificate No: 23930) | West Germany:18 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The time line of the "Death Wish" films gets slightly confused. 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 »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Frank Ochoa is interviewing the mugging victim after Paul Kersey shoots dead the three thugs in the alley, the victim's hat appears and disappears between shots.See more »
Quotes:
Desk sergeant:Turn that thing off.
[points at the guys radio]
guy with radio:[without pausing] I'm listening to the weather report - why haven't you found my dog - he's vital to my income - he paints such marvelous pictures with his paws!
See more »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

How closely does the movie follow the book?
What are the differences between the British BBFC 18 VHS by Paramount and the Uncensored Version?
Is 'Death Wish' based on a book?
See more »
103 out of 128 people found the following review useful.
An interesting take on personal justice, 7 December 1999
Author: filmbuff-36 from Houston, TX

Perhaps "Death Wish" is unquestionably the best vigilante film ever made. It's not the action-packed thrill-fest that movies like "Kill Bill" or "The Punisher" seek to be, instead it's a haunting, sometimes intoxicating look at our society's views on justice.

Charles Bronson is Paul Kersey, a New York architect whose wife is killed by a group of muggers ransacking their apartment, an attack that also leaves his daughter catatonic. The killers are never caught, and Kersey is left shattered.

He takes a job working for a land developer in New Mexico to get his mind off his troubles, and while there his long dormant fascination with guns is renewed when his client Ames Jainchill (Stuart Margolin) shows off his personal collection and lets him crack some shots off. He also witnesses a live reenactment of an Old West shootout, where frontier justice was administered at the end of the gun.

Kersey soon arrives back in New York, livened up a bit from his visit and ready to resume his life. But the streets are still filled with thugs, and Kersey knows that Manhattan is not the best place to be at night. He discovers that Jainchill has given him a .32 revolver as a present, and subsequently uses it to kill a man trying to mug him. Kersey soon realizes the cathartic release of enacting vigilante revenge as the media reports his killings and other private citizens take action, all while police officer Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) leads a task force to capture the vigilante and stop future violence.

"Death Wish" was a product of its day -- a Nixon-era knee jerk reaction to rampant crime that turned out to be quite a hit. But to dismiss it simply as that would be to deny the film its true power. It asks the question of whether or not vigilantism can be used as a social good, and just how can a citizen properly defend himself from criminal attacks. More importantly, to the movie's credit it does introduce the downside of vigilantism, with Ochoa worrying that people will be whipped into such a frenzy that they'll start attacking anyone who looks suspicious.

The movie does play it safe when it comes to Kersey's "victims" however. Every one of them is clearly a mugger, threatening his life or just wanting his money. But the movie does enter into ambiguous territory by looking at the actual actions Kersey takes. At first he just stumbles into traps set up by muggers or happens on a crime taking place; later on the other hand it's clear that he's actually inviting attacks by making himself a target. And the self-defense aspect of his actions becomes equally cloudy when he kills muggers that are already fleeing. He wants to punish them for their crimes, which itself can be morally troubling.

But to understand "Death Wish" you had to understand the times. Murder rates were very high in New York City, and many muggers had little problem killing their victims. The criminals in the film are not overly sympathetic either, most of them clearly hippies or other social undesirables, probably hooked on drugs from their "free love" days and now stuck in the bitter reality of narcotic dependency now that the good times are over. It's hard to feel sorry for someone willing to kill you just for a couple hours worth of pleasure. I'm sure the movie's audiences in New York, and probably across the country, enjoyed living out their revenge fantasies vicariously through Kersey.

It should be said that Bronson, normally criticized as a wooden actor, gives a remarkably strong performance. This may be due to his friendship with director Michael Winner, who also helmed several of his other films. But it's probably due to the fact that the movie was not written as an action hero vehicle, and because of this the story demanded a character more grounded in reality. Kersey is not a superhero -- he's just one man trying to make a difference in the world.

Also, he's not all there, either. The movie makes it clear that Kersey is a little deranged as well, and one wonders just how far he might go to do what he thinks is right. The sequels were more interested in making him out to be an infallible crusader against evil, abandoning any pretext of social commentary and just offering body counts, but here at least the movie shows that someone willing to go on a shooting spree isn't quite right in the head, regardless of the guilt of his victims.

Supporting roles are excellent as well. A very young Jeff Goldblum nails his performance as one of the muggers who invades Kersey's apartment, immediately scary and repellent. Gardenia is a nice foil for Bronson, making Ochoa an intelligent officer not unsympathetic to Kersey's crusade, especially when he sees how the crime rate plummets following the killings. Christopher Guest, who would go on to star in hit mockumentaries like "This is Spinal Tap," "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind" has a small but memorable role as a police officer towards the end of the movie. In fact, everyone does a good job.

Ultimately, your enjoyment of "Death Wish" will probably rely both on your politics and views toward crime. It's a movie where the critic is judged based on his review, which is just as well I suppose. It's at once fascinating, and still very timely.

Nine out of ten stars. Bronson's best solo movie and certainly a very thought-provoking piece, which is lost on both people who only want to watch it for the mugger killings and those who just dismiss it a fascist trash.

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Message Boards

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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
What about the real culprits? Johnny0581
Paul's Tucson client never noticed a connection. larrydee19150
What could they charge Paul Kersey for if caught? digital_groove
Thoughts about New York City e_aiberg
Disgusted at myself. WalterKovacks
Anyone know the font used in the opening credits? thegirlknowstoomuch
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