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J. Lee Thompson
Trish Van Devere,
Abner Procane, top L.A. burglar, finds that somebody stole his plans for next ambitious heist. He hires Raymond St. Ives, crime books writer, to negotiate the return of those documents. Written by
Dragan Antulov <email@example.com>
Charles Bronson stars as the title character in this twist-laden tale of intrigue. Raymond St. Ives is a crime writer who's currently in need of some cash. He's hired by a devious career criminal, Abner Procane (John Houseman), who's written down several journals of his misdeeds. It seems that Procanes' journals have been stolen, and he needs St. Ives to act as a "go between", or deliver money to the thieves while retrieving the incriminating documents. But nothing goes as planned, and St. Ives, an inquisitive sort as well as a cool customer, becomes determined to find out what he's gotten himself into.
Even speaking as a fan of Mr. Bronson, it's really the supporting cast that brings this one to life. Bronson is fun, but the other parts are very well cast and each actor gets a chance to make an impact. Houseman is utterly delightful, looking like he's having a high old time playing such a likable scoundrel. The incredibly beautiful Jacqueline Bisset plays his associate Janet, and Maximilian Schell his psychiatrist. Harry Guardino, Harris Yulin, and Dana Elcar play assorted detectives (Elcar has the most priceless line reading in the whole movie), and Michael Lerner, George Memmoli, Dick O'Neill, Elisha Cook Jr., Val Bisoglio, Burr DeBenning, and Daniel J. Travanti fill out the rest of the main cast. One great joy is in seeing future stars Robert Englund and Jeff Goldblum (Goldbum having made his film debut in "Death Wish" as one of the muggers) as two of the young hoods who accost Bronson at one point.
The story itself, based on a novel by Ross Thomas, does keep the viewers on their toes while they work, like Bronson, to figure out what's what. Director J. Lee Thompson, who would work with Bronson again throughout the 70s and 80s, handles it all with finesse, with fine cinematography by Lucien Ballard and equally fine music composed by Lalo Schifrin as additional assets.
If you're fan of Bronson, Houseman, or Thompson, then by all means give this one a viewing.
Seven out of 10.
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