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Procane's Incriminating Diary
bkoganbing1 December 2006
Reading some of the reviews here, I can see that a lot of folks aren't happy with Charles Bronson's interpretation of Ross Thomas's hero, Raymond St. Ives. Having not read any of the books I can't comment there. I'm happy enough with Charles Bronson in the part having no novel to measure it against.

I'm also very happy with the very excellent cast of supporting players that Bronson and J. Lee Thompson put together for St. Ives. There what really makes this film work for me.

Picture if Dr. Reifenschneider or Casper Guttman had kept a diary of all the criminal enterprises they had been involved with. That's what master criminal John Houseman as Abner Procane has done. But somebody's stolen it and wants some big bucks to get it back.

Enter Charles Bronson as Ray St. Ives, former crime reporter now trying to work on a novel. He knows the Los Angeles underworld and portals of entry therein like no one else, so Houseman hires him as a go between.

Bronson's 'between' all right, between a whole lot of people with agendas at cross purposes. In this stellar cast you'll find Jacqueline Bisset as the Charley's Angel like security for Houseman, Maxmilian Schell as Houseman's psychiatrist, Harris Yulin and Harry Guardino as a pair of on the make detectives, Dana Elcar as their superior, and Elisha Cook as the hotel clerk where Bronson stays.

Bronson's got his work cut out for him in this one. Figure he's the good guy, he's got some real problems telling just who the villains are.

Funniest scene, Bronson in his favorite bar/lunch counter place feeding Val Bisoglio and pumping him for information as Dick O'Neil cuts the corned beef. This might have been what got Bisoglio to thinking about owning a more upscale place because his best known role was coming shortly, as Danny who owned the place Jack Klugman and the cast of Quincy loved to kick back in.

Obviously purists of Ross Thomas's work have problems with St. Ives, but fans of Charles Bronson most definitely won't.
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Money talks.
mylimbo29 December 2007
Ex-crime journalist Raymond St Ives is struggling for doe, due to his gambling addiction and his slow progress of his unfinished novel. His offered a job as a "go-between" for the strange, old wealthy Abner Procane. He'll be payed 10,000 dollars for the job, to hand over cash for the exchange of Procane's stolen ledgers. However since he takes the job, nothing seems quite right and this leaves St Ives trying to put together what happened at the bungle exchange.

Director J. Lee Thompson along with actor Charles Bronson ( the first exercise to kick start their long-listed collaborations together) churn out a acceptable time-filler in the shape of the luxuriously smooth and constantly busy comic-crime caper "St Ives". Underlining the atmospherically exotic style is Thompson's sophisticatedly tidy direction, along with Lucien Ballard's handsomely crisp cinematography and Lalo Schifrin's high-strung score of sizzling jazz arrangement. The screenplay by Barry Beckerman is sleek, but overly knotty and perplexing in its deliberate developments of a devious layout. Still it stays conventional to the scheming and shady connections lurking around nearly every corner, and this generally engages. Sometimes not deliberately so, like often mentioned 'drive-in' sequence. The offbeat script can loose shape (even though it manages some quite cheeky dialogues), and begin to slumber off in the pulpy latter end of the film. The action is quite little, but pacey with some well performed and animatedly stylised stunts. The production managed to get a hold off a sensational cast. Charles Bronson in the lead as St Ives eases into the performance nicely. Jacqueline Bisset adds a sumptuously classy touch. John Houseman is very fun, and Dana Elcar gets some memorable scenes. Maximilian Schell hones in one hammy entrée turn, and Harry Guardino and Harris Yulin likewise are amusing. Also look out for some diverting performances from up-and-coming Robert Englund and Jeff Goldblum as two petty crooks. Michael Lerner and Elisha Cook Jr show up in minor roles too.

An elegantly charming enterprise with an excellent Bronson performance and great support.
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This guy is no Saint
sol18 January 2005
(Some Spoilers) Priviat eye-like movie with retired newspaper columnist and now unpublished book author Raymond St. Ives, Charles Bronson, getting hired to be the go between in a switch of $100,000.00 for a number of personal ledgers of eccentric multi-millionaire and criminal master-mind Abner Procane, John Houseman. At first the job that the down and out St. Ives has seems to be a lead pipe cinch. The $10,000.00 that he'll get for it will come in handy for the compulsive gambling habit that he has and he thinks nothing of it.

Going to an all night laundromat in L.A to pick up the ledgers and hand over the cash for them St. Ives finds the person that he's supposed to do the switch with stone cold dead,Jack Boykins ,Jerrid Brutsche, is found spinning in a washer-dryer with his neck broker. What was to be a simple delivery and exchange for St. Ives turns out to be a string of murders. All that leads to a $4,000,000.00 pay-off, for a number of pages from Procane's ledgers that has information of his dealing with the president of International Electric George McDuff, Norman Palmer. McDuff is involved in setting up an under the table deal with a member of the Saudie royal family that would net him at least a one hundred million dollar contract.

Classy and well acted "St.Ives" has the beautiful Jackie Bisset, Janet Whistler, as the femme fatal in this film-noir drama set in 1976 L.A. John Houseman seems to be really enjoying the role that he has as criminal master mind Abner Procane who prides himself as never committing any act of violence in his long and successful crime career. The non violent Procane only in uses his smarts and soring intellect to get where he's gotten and not any rough stuff. As if he were playing a number of games of championship chess all which was so accurately recorded by him in the stolen ledgers.

Jackie Bissett is as gorgeous as ever as Porcane's aid, or partner in crime, Janet Whistler who turns out to be playing both sides of the law to get just what she wants. Maximillian Schell pops up in the movie every now and then as Porcane's personal psychiatrist, Dr. John Constable, who has more on his mind that the fantasies and fears of his patient.

The movie has a movie within a movie scene when we see the switch between the valuable information in Procane's ledger between go-between's of the Saudie Sheik and McDuff that leads to a bloody shoot-out outside the drive-in movie where the switch was made. Charles Bronson's St. Ives as usual overcomes the odds to get to the bottom of the case that he's on that for one of those involved ends up at the bottom of Abner Procane's giant swimming pool.

Bronson is pushed around and beaten up a number of times in the film but like in all of his movies he comes out on top in the end, especially with Miss. Bisset. The movie at the drive-in seemed to have a film that had an hour and a half long cattle stampede. This made me wonder if the film-makers of "St.Ives" got that idea from the great bad-movie director Ed Wood and copied it off from the legendary buffalo stampede of the Ed Wood directed film "Glen or Glenda".
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Nice change of pace, great fun for any true Bronson-fan!
Renaldo Matlin14 June 2005
I've been a big Bronson-fan for as long as I can remember, and I saw "St. Ives" on TV some years back and was always left with the impression that it was sorta dull, all though offering a nice change of pace for old Charlie. Now out on DVD I still had to order it though, as I pride myself on having *every* Bronson-film available in my collection. I am really happy to say that watching it again was a really wonderful surprise! I'll blame my stupid youth for not appreciating this movie as much back in my late teens because "St. Ives" isn't dull. Sure, it doesn't include all the normal action scenes one has come to expect from a Bronson picture, but it includes just about everything else lacking in his later action movies: great wit, humor, style and unexpected plot-twists and turns right up until the very end! To top it all off it is one of the best scored Bronson-films, with a wonderful soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin. Oh and just so you know; despite the low amount of action scenes, the body count DOES get alarmingly high before the end credits.

It also has a truly excellent cast supporting Bronson. To mention a few: Academy Award winning veteran John Houseman, one of the sexiest stars of the 1970's Jacqueline Bisset, Dana Elcar (Pete Thornton in "MacGyver"), Academy Award winner Maximilian Schell, the lovable Elisha Cook Jr, Michael Lerner, Dick O'Neill (Sharon Gless' memorable dad Charlie in "Cagney & Lacey"), Daniel J. Travanti (the star of "Hill St. Blues") and my favorite supports, the wonderful character actors Harry Guardino and Harris Yulin as police detectives. On top of this you get young versions of Robert Englund and Jeff Goldblum as hoods fighting it out with Charlie!

I also found myself laughing more than I normally do watching Bronson-movies, as "St. Ives" has several funny moments. My favorite one probably being the dinner/confrontation scene with Val Bisoglio.

If you are a *true* Bronson-fan you'll really enjoy old Charlie in this one!
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St. Ives
Scarecrow-8811 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Ex-crime reporter and excessive gambler Ray St. Ives(Charles Bronson)is asked to be a "go between" exchanging $100,000 for stolen journals for a wealthy millionaire named Abner Procane(John Houseman). Every time he attempts to do so, though, his life is threatened. First he was told to go to a laundromat, instead finding a thief with a broke neck in a dryer. Then three hoods(two of which are Robert Englund and Jeff Goldblum!)attempt to toss him down an elevator shaft. Then Ray goes to talk to a man who might have an idea as to where the journals were, but before he can talk to the guy he is "helped" out of a window from his apartment, crashing to the street 8 floors below. So anyone associated with those missing journals winds up dead or in danger. The journals detail a life of crime and St. Ives is drawn by curiosity into Procane's world, $4 million service charge for negotiating a secret deal between a company and rich sheik, four pages still missing from the ledgers despite a rather successful exchange. ST.IVES has one of those tricky plots where if you don't pay attention you'll be lost. Director J Lee Thompson keeps the camera and plot active, and we're never sure who Ives can trust, if anyone. He's an honest bloke, though, and awfully lucky..I asked myself how this guy could stay alive through it all because of how anyone linked to those 4 pages in the ledgers consistently wound up biting the big one. The twists and turns of the plot primarily consist of characters coming out of the woodwork to get their hands on the money, betrayal and greed major motivating factors. Bronson's character only resorts to violence when he has to, instead working with his mind, quite cerebral, and knows more than he lets on. The film has quite a cast. One of the most beautiful women in the 70s, Jacqueline Bisset, is part of Houseman's entourage and fits the femme fatale archetype. You never can fully trust her because $4 million is irresistible to someone like her character, Janet. Maximilian Schell has a small, but more pivotal than you might be think, as Houseman's psychiatrist. Harry Guardino, Dana Elcar, and Harris Yulin all portray detectives in supporting parts, often popping in St. Ives' affairs. Elisha Cook has a little role as a bellhop in the cheap hotel for which St. Ives lives.
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My brief review of the film
sol-16 November 2005
An interesting visual side, with some well composed shots by J. Lee Thompson and expert cinematographer Lucien Ballard, is by far the best part of the film, and it is almost enough to atone for a rather lame screenplay. The story is at times difficult to follow, but it is not very original or out of the ordinary either, so there is not all that much reason to care. This is one of those films that you watch more so for a good amount of action and thrills. It just does not have the characters and plot that a brilliant film of its type would have. It is not helped out by poor music choices either, nor by wasting veteran film noir actor Elisha Cook Jr. in an insignificant supporting role. Still, it is okay viewing overall. It seems a little silly how Bronson runs into trouble everywhere, but that is the way that the plot of the film is made up, so be it. At least it is not annoying to view, and it is at times reasonably amusing.
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This film is really COOL.
Andrew Eastenegger1 July 2003
Now Bronson here does a fantastic struggling writer who happens to get involved in a big crisis. St Ives is the name and he used to be a cop and every where he goes a body goes down. So he gets taken away by the cops. So Bronson knows he keeps getting set up or it's just he's bad luck. Even seeing Freddy Krueger trying to take on Bronson, Why did he do that. Only made him mad. Brilliant ending worth 10 stars. Hope they bring the DVD out really soon, with some features.

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Thompson and Bronson team up, are hurt by weak script
paul_johnr14 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
My first experience with the films of director J. Lee Thompson and Charles Bronson came during the mid-90s when I watched a heavily-cut version of '10 to Midnight' on basic cable. Since then, I have viewed these several films in almost reverse order, eventually jumping back to 'St. Ives,' their first pairing in 1976.

'St. Ives,' while being the first Thompson/Bronson film, was also one of the last major studio productions involving these two men. Eventually, they were turning out cheap but effective potboilers for the Cannon Group, including '10 to Midnight' and 'Murphy's Law.' And this is probably why 'St. Ives' can produce unfair expectations; while on a fairly large budget, the film is just one of many high-crime thrillers that were released in its day and sells itself as little more than that.

Bronson stars as Raymond St. Ives, a former Los Angeles crime reporter who is lackadaisically trying to earn his way as a novelist. Having recently divorced his wife and taken up residence at a cheap hotel, St. Ives is under demand to pay $1,000 a month in alimony. Raymond has a thirst for high living and gambles non-stop, habits that have left him short of cash; to pay the bills, he takes advice from his lawyer Myron (Michael Lerner) to act as a go-between for millionaire Abner Procane (John Houseman) and his assistant Janet Whistler (Jacqueline Bisset), who need to exchange ransom money for stolen journals that contain unsavory business dealings. While trying to complete the transaction, St. Ives stumbles upon one dead body after another and requires the help of his police lieutenant friend Charlie Blunt (Dana Elcar) to bail him out each time. Intrigued as a former journalist and in need of 'writing material,' St. Ives stays employed to Procane while trying to account for the murders.

While the cast of 'St. Ives' acquits itself under Thompson's straightforward direction, the film suffers from an erratic plot line and a script by Barry Beckerman that loses energy as it progresses. The first half of 'St. Ives' is quite engaging, as it tracks Raymond's activities as a go-between and his investigations of Procane. But out of nowhere, St. Ives decides to become a member of Procane's illegal operations while hoping to uncover the truth. The whodunit theme becomes one of mini-espionage as a result, with Bronson looking far too passive. By the film's conclusion, Bronson seems almost a marginal character, no longer the main person of focus. Barry Beckerman's script (based upon a novel by Ross Thomas) also has a comic tone so predominant that it's nearly impossible for any true conflict to develop. The film gathers no momentum and becomes pedestrian.

A large part of why 'St. Ives' fails in its second half is the growing presence of Jacqueline Bisset, who was terribly miscast as Janet. Bisset's role as the henchwoman requires a character actress who mixes cold-heartedness with just enough good looks to attract Raymond. Whether it's because Bisset looks taller than everyone else, has a pleasant voice, or is just plain gorgeous, she has such a wonderfully feminine presence that you could never really buy into the idea of Janet killing people. To make matters worse, Bisset is so dominant as an actress that she steals our attention while not having very much to do. John Houseman is very balanced as Procane, but supporting roles by Maximilian Schell as Dr. Constable and Dana Elcar (who never removes his hat) as Charlie Blunt are flat and undemanding.

With regards to technical work and production vales, 'St. Ives' eclipses all of the later Thompson/Bronson films that lasted until 'Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects' in 1989. But for all of the excellent cinematography by Lucien Ballard and wonderfully-styled music by Lalo Schifrin, there are laughable moments such as a dead body whose eyes move and a drive-in movie screen that repeats the same footage at least three times. The few 'action' scenes involving Bronson aren't necessary and do little to generate tension. The concluding shootout is also disorienting, a bungle to follow.

While 'St. Ives' is not a bad film, it is hopelessly mediocre. Still, fans of Bronson and Jacqueline Bisset should find portions of the film enjoyable. At best, it is a charming time-killer that deserves an occasional broadcast on television. Its DVD is available from Warner Home Video and nicely presented in widescreen with Dolby enhancement of the original mono track; French 'dubbing' and three-language subtitles are provided. This disc includes a brief featurette on the making of 'St. Ives,' with the rare occurrence of Bronson discussing his craft. The original theatrical trailer is also supplied.

** out of 4
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ST. IVES (J. Lee Thompson, 1976) **1/2
MARIO GAUCI11 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Even if not filmed in that recognizable style, this thriller's plot could be deemed noir-ish – with Charles Bronson as the outwardly cool but increasingly bewildered hero, and where the Jacqueline Bisset character is eventually revealed as a femme fatale.

This was the star's first of 9 films with director Thompson, and it's also one of his better vehicles (which, again, I had inexplicably missed out on several times on TV in the past). Generally enjoyable and fast-paced, though needlessly convoluted, it definitely benefits from a strong cast – including John Houseman as the mysterious old man (and something of a Silent movie aficionado) who gives Bronson a deceptively simple assignment which soon turns deadly; Maximilian Schell as Houseman's physician (suffering from a bad cold throughout) who also transpires to be not quite what he seems; ditto Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum cops Harry Guardino and Harris Yulin; Burr De Benning as a traffic cop with ambitions above his station; Dana Elcar as a sympathetic Police Captain; Michael Lerner (who appears far too briefly) as Bronson's flustered lawyer; genre stalwart Elisha Cook Jr. as a hotel desk-clerk who's perennially asleep on the job, and even Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund as thugs (who contrive to throw Bronson down an elevator shaft)! There's also a good, upbeat score by Lalo Schifrin.

Though the all-important drive-in sequence towards the end becomes unintentionally amusing – when the same stampede sequence (as far as I could tell, it's taken from the Warners-produced John Wayne vehicle CHISUM [1970]) is repeated over and over! – the film makes up for this with the busy climax, which as I said, provides a number of twists. It's capped, then, by a wonderful coda involving Bronson's bemused reaction to the incorrigible Bisset's wiles (he leaves her in the embarrassed Elcar's custody).
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90 minutes of intrigue could never been better!
Brian T. Whitlock (GOWBTW)21 September 2012
Warner Bros. have been at their busiest in 1976. Charles Bronson who was known 2 years earlier with "Death Wish" put a touch of magic in "St. Lives". Bronson plays Raymond St. Ives, a crime writer, and former cop who gets intrigued with a burglar named Abner Procane (John Houseman, 1902-88) whose journals got stolen from his safe. He gets St. Ives involved to deliver $100, 000 to the people responsible. The first attempt resulted in the death of the person at the laundromat. Then more people get killed, including the motorcycle policeman Fran(Burr DeBenning). Cloak and Dagger have never been so fun. St. Ives couldn't get enough action as he would. Though he never used a gun much. This movie to me was very fun, it has some future stars: Daniel J. Travanti before "Hill Street Blues", Jeff Goldblum, Robert Englund, way, way before "V" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street". This movie is perfect for mystery lovers, and it can leave you very intrigued. A very big keeper here. I enjoyed this movie very much! 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Great Bronson film...
Andrew Eastenegger21 December 2001
This film is great like all his films...

I really love this film, it's a change of pace for the guy but he's great as a kick ass bad ass.

People complained cause he always played the good guy for 20 years, so what, he played a bad guy for 20 years in the 50 and 60's.

What this film, it's great man, just watching that guy on the screen act is good enough for me.

All you have to do is watch the film, when it's on, just press the TV button and there it is, as i say at a time like this, it's all in the reflexes....
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Routine thriller with Bronson as an ex-crime reporter turned would-be novelist gets involved in a complex theft
ma-cortes6 November 2016
Cloak and dagger story , poorly acted , that finishes into strange and surprising goings-on . Abner Procane (John Houseman) , top L.A. burglar , finds that somebody stole his plans for next ambitious heist . He hires Raymond St. Ives (Charles Bronson acting is wooden just like being habitual in his roles as an investigator who finds out about dark motives) to resolve the simple theft , but it escalates into a large-scale robbery and killings . Here Charles plays a reporter who carries out an investigation , a former police journalist who agrees to recover the stolen ledges . But Ives (Bronson was about fifty-four years of age when here appeared) finds himself dealing with treason , killings and a twisted intrigue . There are also some policemen (Harris Yulin , Harry Guardino , all the cops who show up in the movie but one are corrupt) pursuit him . At the end it takes place a confusing caper about the stealing of an American electronics firm's huge bribe to an Arab oil sheik .

This light entertainment and standard Bronson movie is full of clichés , thrills , betrayal and murder . Confusing and heavy-handled screenplay from a novel by Ross Thomas titled 'The Procane Chronicle' , being slickly paced but dumb . This is a "detective 'film noir' homage" which "features a dense detective plot in the manner of classic 1940s 'film noir' private eye stories" . Taking and snatching dialog here and there from the 40s , such as : ¨Everytime we find a stiff , you're around¨ . Neither Bronson's presence , nor Lucien Ballard cinematography can rescue this routine thriller movie for implausibilities from a complex and silly screenplay . It starts off well enough as tough thriller , but long before the final you've left wondering just what's going on . This Charles Bronson movie was theatrically released between his pictures From noon till three (1976) and The White Buffalo (1977) , both of them starred by Bronson . This is one of the first films Charles Bronson made for producer Pancho Kohner and being ¨Messenger of the death¨ the final of ten teamings between producer Pancho Kohner and star actor Bronson . Regular acting by Bronson as a crime books writer , to negotiate the return of some engaging documents ; however , he seems tired and bored from the start . Nice and wide support cast , such as : John Houseman as the criminal mastermind , Maximilian Schell , Harry Guardino , Harris Yulin , Dana Elcar , Michael Lerner , Dick O'Neill , Burr DeBenning , Elisha Cook Jr. , Daniel J. Travanti , later of TV's ¨Hill Street Blues¨ and Jacqueline Bisset as the gorgeous , glamorous , mysterious Femme fatal . Furthermore , cameos by Robert Englund as henchman and Jeff Goldblum as Hood #3 , he also appeared in a bit cameo as a thug in Charles Bronson's earlier movie Death Wish (1974). Besides , atmospheric score by the usual Lalo Schifrin , composed in the seventies's style . And crisp and glimmer photography by Luicen Ballard .

The fare was regularly directed by J. Lee Thompson , shot in up and downs , the movie consistently skirts the issues it raises . It's narrated understanding as well as hardly . This movie represented the first of nine teaming of director 'J Lee Thompson' with star actor Charles Bronson . Thompson previously had a nice track record in the English cinema from 1950 until 1961 , directing good Western (McKenna's gold , White Buffalo) and all kinds of genres , as Sci-Fi (Conquest and Battle of planet of apes), terror (reincarnation of Peter Proud , Eye of the devil) , adventures (Flame over India , Kings of the sun , Taras Bulba , Tiger Bay) and Warlike ( Guns of Navarone, Von Braun , Chairman , The passage). His two biggest successes turned out to be ¨Guns of Navarone¨and ¨Cape Fear¨. Thereafter , the filmmaker's career subsided in a morass of slickly realized but middling films . He moved into the field of international spectaculars , at which point his filmmaking seemed to lose its individuality . J. Lee Thomson working from the 50s in England, finished his career making Chuck Norris (Firewalker) and Charles Bronson vehicles (Caboblanco , Evil that men do , Messenger of death , Death Wish 4 : Crackdown, Caboblanco, St Ives). St. Ives rating : Mediocre but passable 5.5/10 , but it will appeal to Charles Bronson fans . Marks this down as for hardened Charles buffs only .
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A Different role for Bronson
cacorbett27 January 2015
In this refreshing change of pace for Bronson, he portrays a novelist and former crime reporter on the trail of stolen file belonging to an eccentric John Houseman. As Bronson pursues the pilfered files, a number of bodies turn up dead, with no apparent suspect other that St Ives !. Each time he is cleared, inching closer to recovering the files and nabbing the culprit ! Jacqueline Bissett is the beautiful assistant to Houseman, whoi seems to take an immediate liking to the frustrated novelist. Dana Elcar turns in his best performance ever as the Police Captain trying to make sense of it all .

A great cast, likable performance by Bronson and an interesting ending make this an enjoyable film effort. Highly recommended for Bronson fans.
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Houseman makes it worth seeing.
Scott LeBrun14 September 2014
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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"it's expensive being honest"
jaibo24 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
St Ives was the first fruit of what turned out to be a fecund collaboration between tough-guy actor Charles Bronson and veteran British filmmaker J Lee Thompson. Based on a novel by Ross Thomas (The Procane Chronicle), St Ives is clearly a contribution to the 1970s neo-noir cycle, the Watergate-era revival of the hard-boiled detective story. It's not a major contribution to the genre – it pales beside The Long Goodbye, Chinatown or Night Moves – but it's an entertaining watch, well cast (including a cameo by genre veteran Elisha Cook) and it leaves a subtly bitter taste in the mouth.

Raymond St Ives (Bronson) is a retired sports writer and wannabe Great American Novelist who agrees to act as a go-between for a rich old villain Abner Procane (John Houseman channelling Sydney Greenstreet) who has had his memoirs stolen. St Ives is dragged into a world of swank mansions, sordid downtown locations, corrupt cops, petty criminals who meet nasty ends and, of course, a femme-fatale (Jacqueline Bissett) who is looking out for herself. This last character doesn't subvert the genre expectation in the post-feminist way of Chinatown, nor are the Bogart/Bacall exchanges between Bissett and Bronson entirely convincing (there is an air of pastiche here).

The film is set in Los Angeles and it is no coincidence that Procane spends his time watching old silent epics as a form of (American) dream therapy, an escape from his neuroses; even his criminal scheme takes place at a drive-in cinema. There's a subtext involving old Hollywood being used as a screen which hides the sordid realities of contemporary American life – the climax involves the rich old man's screen being rolled back to reveal his friend and psychiatric as the prime mover of a plot against him, a plot motivated by envy, greed and Oedipal hatred. The final has Bronson refusing four million dollars ("it's expensive being honest") and handing over the cash and the femme-fatale, leaving both in the hands of an 'honest' cop, his honesty held in the balance as sex and filthy lucre present themselves as temptations to climb into the 'bucket of faeces', as the cop had previously described the world of criminality. The ending presents us not with the happy denouement we first saw Procane lulling himself with in front of a silent film but an ambiguous moment of ever-present inducement to dirty one's hands with ill-gotten gains, the truth of the American dream.
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Ross Thomas
pjwoodall112 September 2005
I used to live down the street from Ross Thomas in DC and never had the chance to meet him. According to a story in the POST, Thomas and his wife went out to Hollywood to see the filming. Bronson told him "I didn't read the book." Thomas replied "That's OK. I didn't see your last movie." Bronson was not Thomas' or my idea of the St. Ives character. St. Ives was a thinking man's detective with a wry sense of humor. Bronson was capable of wry humor but he was miscast if you had read the books. I think it was the Thomas novel filmed which is a shame. I think Charles Durning starred in a made-for-TV movie where he played a similar character who is a professional go-between.
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Confusing, boring and dull.
alexanderdavies-9938222 June 2017
Charles Bronson appeared in a right stinker in the form of "St. Ives." This film has no action, a dull and confusing plot and no interest of any kind. The whole cast is thoroughly wasted. The scenes look as though they were put together in haste. There is no narrative structure to speak of. Even hardened fans of Bronson might frown down upon this one!
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Nice star vehicle for Charles Bronson
Woodyanders14 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Easygoing crime writer Raymond St. Ives (a solid and convincing performance by Charles Bronson) gets hired by wealthy eccentric and criminal mastermind Abner Procane (wonderfully played by John Houseman) to retrieve a bunch of incriminating documents that were stolen from him.

Director J. Lee Thompson, working from a witty and intricate script by Barry Beckerman, relates the complex and compelling story at a brisk pace, maintains an engaging lighthearted tone throughout, makes neat use of various seedy Los Angeles locations (a sequence set in an elevator shaft in particular rates as a real doozy), and stages an exciting set piece at a drive-in theater with utmost skill and precision. The elegant and pulchritudinous presence of Jacqueline Bisset as ravishing, yet tough and duplicitous femme fatale Janet Whistler certainly doesn't hurt matters in the least. Moreover, this film further benefits from a terrific supporting cast of excellent character actors: Dana Elcar as the friendly Lt. Charles Blunt, Harry Guardino and Harris Yulin as a pair of browbeating detectives, Maximilian Schell as suave shrink Dr. John Constable, Michael Lerner as antsy lawyer Myron Green, Dick O'Neill as gruff diner owner Hesh, George Memmoli as fidgety stoolie Shippo, and Elisha Cook Jr. as weary bellhop Eddie. Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund portray a couple of lowlife hoods who try (and fail) to get the drop on St. Ives. Lucien Ballard's lively and lustrous cinematography gives this picture an impressive glossy sheen. Lalo Schifrin's funky-digging score hits the get-down groovy spot. Naturally, Bronson carries himself with his usual trademark cool and self-assurance. Nice ambiguous ending, too. Recommended viewing for Bronson fans
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Could have used more punch
Wizard-87 May 2014
I'm not sure why Charles Bronson chose to star in "St. Ives" during the peak period of his career, since it's far from the tough guy roles that made him famous. Maybe he liked the promised change of pace. I do admit that Bronson is fine in the title role, more of a troubleshooter and go- between instead of a violent individual. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by material that's kind of lacklustre. The movie as a whole lacks edge. I know this is more of a mystery than an action exercise, but a little more action would have sparked things up considerably. It doesn't help that director J. Lee Thompson makes the entire movie look and feel more like a made for television exercise rather than a theatrical movie. This isn't actively awful, but I would only recommend it to die hard Bronson fans.
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Undistinguished Bronsoner.
Robert J. Maxwell27 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
If the truth be known -- and the truth, as ever, is pretty murky in this Raymond Chandler rip off -- Raymond St. Ives, the writer who is hired out of nowhere as a private eye, is merely a nom de plume. The character's real name, well, almost real, is Charles Bronson. He's the taciturn, muscular guy who can be thrown into an empty elevator shaft by three hoods, save himself after falling down a few floors by grabbing a cable and sliding to a halt, haul himself up to a doorway into an empty warehouse, and deck the three armed goons who still pursue him. The thugs include Robert Englund, later to surpass himself as Freddie Kruger, the mad killer of the "Friday the Thirteenth" slasher movies, and Jeff Goldblum, ditto, as neurotic scientists.

Bronson is hired by the immensely wealthy John Houseman to recover some stolen journals. Houseman's mistress, Jacqueline Bisset, is thrown into the mix so she can pop into bed at one point with the protagonist.

Why -- you ask? -- did Houseman hire Bronson, a not-too-successful novelist and ex crime reporter -- to act as a go-between who delivers the forty million dollars in exchange for the purloined letters? I don't know.

But the plot, such as it is, follows Raymond Chandler rather closely otherwise. It's as complicated as a Rubik's cube. I admit I was lost now and then. A couple of cops are corrupt. People double cross each other all the time. Bronson keeps stumbling across dead bodies, a habit that doesn't endear him to the police.

Bronson also knows a lot of louche people and bounces from one to the other in his search for the solution to the various mysteries. Bronson asks one of his friends: "Do you know a guy named Parisi?" The friend replies: "You'll have to see Boykins about that." Bronson goes to Boykins, who tells him: "I didn't do the job but I know Finley wasn't in on it, but Pedo can tell you more than I can." I have the names mixed up but I don't care any more than the writers cared.

I think one of the biggest turn offs is the production design. Bronson is described as living in "a cheap hotel." I found the apartment rather charming, a hell of an improvement over this abandoned railway car that I live in.

And wardrobe and make up have done their best to turn every character into a simulacrum of a rich Hollywood actor. The rich Hollywood screenwriters who assembled this kaleidoscope of mysterioso doings have no idea of what it's like to be less than rich. The grease monkey under the car has four precisely applied and somewhat becoming oil marks applies to his face and forehead. Everyone dresses in suits and ties except the goons who wear tatters and wool caps so you'll know they're goons. Bronson, the down-on-his-luck writer, drives a Jaguar. Everyone else drives a boxy-looking American car at least forty feet long.

A gimcrack job, and a disappointment considering who was in front of the camera and behind it, many of them seasoned professionals like J. Lee Thompson, Lalo Schifrin, Lucien Ballard. Why does it look so much like a cheap television movie set in Los Angeles?
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Ross Thomas and Charles Bronson make an uneasy movie. Better stick with the Ross Thomas books
Terrell-48 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Ross Thomas was one of America's great thriller/mystery/political skullduggery writers. He wrote 20 books under his own name and five as Oliver Bleeck. One would think he'd have been fertile ground for Hollywood to till. In fact, only one of his books made it to the screen, The Procane Chronicle under the Bleeck name. The movie St. Ives, directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Charles Bronson, is the result. We can see why Hollywood never tried again. It's not that St. Ives is a poor movie. With Thomas' clever, twisty plot largely in tact, the last half of the movie moves briskly along. However, Ross Thomas and Charles Bronson make highly unlikely partners. Bronson's stoic, strong, silent guy-who-can-take-care-of-himself is not a good fit for what remains of Philip St. Ives' (now renamed, for some reason, Raymond). The second and more important drawback is that a movie of reasonable length will have a hard time coherently taking us through the twists and corners, the under-handed dealings, the false leads and the intelligent style in a Ross Thomas plot.

Ray St. Ives used to be a big-time crime reporter. Now he's trying to be a novelist. He lives in the cheap Hotel Lido and brews chicory coffee in an old Bunn coffee maker. St. Ives gets an offer. The eccentric, wealthy, 65-year-old Abner Procane (John Houseman) had five brown, leather-bound ledgers stolen. The thieves want $100,000. For acting as a go-between, St. Ives will be paid $10,000. All Ray has to do is be at a certain laundromat at 2 a.m., give the money and get the ledgers. When St. Ives shows up, however, the only thing he finds, crammed into one of the dryers and slowly turning on the spin cycle, is a man with a broken neck.

So after he leaves the police station, he reports back to Procane with the money but with no ledgers. He meets once more Procane's zaftig assistant, Janet Whistler (Jacqueline Bisset), and Procane's friend and psychiatrist, Dr John Constable (Maximilian Schell).

By the time St. Ives goes through this one more time with the switch in a men's restroom, he's been Bronson-beaten and Bronson-victorious in an abandoned warehouse, gotten on poor terms with two cops, found another cop dead with an ice pick in the chest and finally returned those ledgers to Procane. St. Ives has also learned that Procane is not just an eccentric old gentleman who loves to watch The Big Parade. He is an elegant and supremely talented big-time thief. And one of the returned ledgers has had four pages torn out, the meticulous plans Procane developed to relieve some very wealthy business interests of $4 million. No spoilers here; this is just set-up for the main event.

It all starts to come together in a drive-in theater one evening where the $4 million will be exchanged, where the ones who stole Procane's plans will act on them, and where Procane, St. Ives and Janet Whistler will be waiting to interfere as much as possible. With the exception of a few deaths, a couple of betrayals and a lit pool with one person oozing blood and life, it all works out as planned.

Ross Thomas' books are such a pleasure to read because they are well and pungently written, we can savor the plot twists and we can enjoy the personalities of the characters that Thomas builds for us. Thomas also had a knack for coming up with memorable names. Some I enjoy are Otherguy Overby, Morgan Citron, Anna Maude Singe, Ben Dill and Velveeta Keats. His people are usually a bit cynical -- or at least supremely realistic -- about what they might encounter. The plots almost glow with the hypocritical nature of some of the people we meet. But try capturing that in a Hollywood movie without losing the intelligent style. The movie St. Ives proves it is just about impossible.

For those interested in value, The Procane Chronicle sold for $5.95 hardback when William Morrow & Company issued it in 1973. You can find, sometimes, a first edition in fine condition with dust jacket equally fine for about $280. If you collect first editions of Ross Thomas, the $280 is not bad.
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Ross Thomas Fans Will Be Disappointed
chip-8415 August 2006
Bronson fans may appreciate this (as noted throughout the comments), but Ross Thomas/Oliver Bleek aficionados will be disappointed. None of the superb dialog, efficient language, or 'wisdom' of Thomas' work cuts through the movie. This is especially true if you know the book from which it is based ('The Procane Chronicles').

One of the things that makes Thomas an excellent read is his ability to not spell out the motivations of every character. Often, the reader is left to piece things together. In the context of the movie, however, it just doesn't work...Bronson's motivation never really makes sense (in the books, his reluctance to participate is interesting, for example).

I was compelled to finish watching it, however. I had hoped for more. I suspect I will enjoy other Bronson films quite a bit more, as my expectations will differ.
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One of the better Bronsons from his peak starring period
Fred Sliman (fs3)18 November 2000
It was 1976, Bronson had just scored one of his bigger creative triumphs with Hard Times late the past year and had effectively changed pace earlier that year with the satirical, western set From Noon Till Three and the more traditional western mystery Breakheart Pass. As the titular mystery writer/troubleshooter, his performance is more loose in the style of some of his better efforts.

A good cast surrounds him, most of whom play some part in the intrigue. It's not classic mystery or classic Bronson, but is easy to enjoy even for non-fans. Check out the late stuntman-extraodinaire Dar Robinson in one of his few acting appearances and a pre-Freddy Robert Englund (who had one of his best roles that same year in Stay Hungry).
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Good actors Lame story
mm-3930 May 2002
Jeff Goldblum seem to like playing bad guys in Charlie's films.

He gets back at Goldblum for the Death Wish film. A few good scenes, and good b actors. This film has one of those 70's films that makes little sense. I would not rent this one again, it seem the 70's made many films with huge holes in the scripts 3/10
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Medium Bronson Mystery.
AaronCapenBanner8 September 2013
Charles Bronson stars as Raymond St.Ives, an ex-crime reporter hired by Oliver Procane(John Houseman) to negotiate the return of some stolen files that Procane desperately wants back. Soon after, he finds himself the target of killers, and determines to find out who wants him dead, and why, though the trail can't help but lead back to Procane in some way... Jacqueline Bisset costars as a mysterious associate of Procane, though that doesn't mean she is adverse to becoming involved with St. Ives.

Unusual role for Bronson, who is still good, as is the rest of the cast, but story isn't too compelling, nor that satisfying to be of more interest, though it remains watchable enough.
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