6.2/10
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46 user 40 critic

The Stone Killer (1973)

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2:18 | Trailer
A top New York detective is sent to Los Angeles where he must solve a case involving an old Sicilian Mafia family feud.

Director:

Michael Winner

Writers:

Gerald Wilson (screenplay), John Gardner (book)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Bronson ... Lou Torrey
Martin Balsam ... Al Vescari
Jack Colvin ... Jumper
Paul Koslo ... Langley
Norman Fell ... Les Daniels
David Sheiner ... Guido Lorenz
Stuart Margolin ... Lawrence
Ralph Waite ... Mathews
Alfred Ryder ... Tony Champion
Walter Burke ... J D
Kelley Miles ... Geraldine Wexton (as Kelly Miles)
Eddie Firestone ... Armitage
Charles Tyner ... Police Psychiatrist
Byron Morrow ... Station Commander
Lisabeth Hush Lisabeth Hush ... Dr. Helen Torrey
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Storyline

Top detective Lou Torrey is transferred to Los Angeles and uncovers a plot by a Sicilian mafioso to use Vietnam War veterans to murder all his enemies in a rerun of the "Sicilian Vespers" when the previous generation of Sicilian mafiosi were all killed on a single day. Torrey gets various clues that something big is about to happen, but will he discover what is planned before the big day? Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's hot in New York... even hotter in L.A... and they're freakin' out in the wide-open spaces in between. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 August 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Complete State of Death See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stuart Margolin, who plays the strategist of the assassins, would have an equally important role in the following years' Death Wish as the Arizona landowner who hires Charles Bronson's firm to develop buildings. His character gets the vigilante ball rolling by giving Bronson's Paul Kersey a gun. See more »

Goofs

During chase scenes skid marks can be seen meaning more than one take was done for the final scene in the movie. In particular, in the parking garage during the chase scene skid marks are prevalent. See more »

Quotes

Lou Torrey: Lionel Henry Jumper?
Jumper: No. I just do impersonations.
Lou Torrey: We'll try one more time. Lionel Henry...
Jumper: Yes!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Actor Gene Woodbury is credited in opening credits only. See more »

Alternate Versions

The footage of Lawrence darting round the room shooting the dead/injured mafia dons with a pistol (to ensure all are dead) after the window fall was cut from the original UK cinema version by the BBFC. The 1986 RCA/Columbia video was fully uncut. See more »

Connections

Featured in Mr. Blonde: Paul Koslo on 'The Stone Killer' (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

The Chase
Written by Roy Budd
Performed by Roy Budd And His Orchestra
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A complete state of death.
17 April 2010 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

In a three year period in the early 70s (72/73/74) director Michael Winner made three violent thrillers with leading man Charles Bronson. Sandwiched in between The Mechanic and the wave making Death Wish, is this effective piece. A film that is for sure the weakest of the three but still a film worthy of reappraisal.

The screenplay is by Gerald Wilson who adapts from John Gardner's novel A Complete State of Death. Joining Bronson in the cast are Martin Balsam, Norman Fell & Paul Koslo. The plot sees Bronson play a tough New York cop, Lou Torrey, who is forced to leave the service after shooting dead a teenager during a pursuit. Later, he is hired by the LAPD and finds himself in the middle of a plan by a Mafia don (Balsam) to avenge the slayings of Mafia dons back in 1931 (The Night of Sicilian Vespers). His plan involves using Vietnam Veterans as hit men as opposed to the conventional Mafia ways of eradication. It's a big operation, a dastardly operation, and as the bodies start to pile up; it's evident that this case calls for the toughest of detectives to get to the bottom of it.

Ah, the tough cop movie. In fact, ah, the tough grizzled no nonsense cop movie. It's a formula that the cinema and TV loving world would get plenty of during the 1970s. The decade would start with a bang as Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman laid down markers in Dirty Harry and The French Connection respectively. Which, to be frank, is a tough standard for any one to have to follow. Enter Michael Winner and Charles Bronson. Bronson had done some fine work in the 60s, with his weather beaten face, raspy voice and machismo seeping from every pore, Bronson was every inch a tough guy actor. Yet there was more talent in his armoury, talent that sadly was very rarely tapped into by directors more concerned with using him as a macho prop. Something that Winner does here. Dialogue for Bronson is kept to a minimum as Winner rides in on the crest of a tough cop driven wave. Which while that doesn't do Bronson any favours as an all rounded thespian, it does however let him excel at the physical side of his character, and in the process of doing that he also gives Torrey the moody method treatment.

Ultimately it's only those who are in it for the action and violence that will get something from The Stone Killer. For although it's a nicely layered story (in spite of the daft core of the villain waiting 40 years to enact revenge!), it's swamped (enjoyably so) by Winner's eagerness to lay down action and adrenalin rushes whenever possible. He may not be the best director with actors, but he is more than capable when it comes to gun play and chases, both of which greatly serve The Stone Killer well. The stunt work and choreography is top notch here, something that more than makes this a worthwhile excuse for a night in with the beer and snacks. There's also nice snapshots of early 70s Americana in the story, with weird Hippies and the Militant Black Activists nestling alongside the Mafia. All of which gives Bronson the chance to brood and flex his muscles some more.

It's escapism so it is. Nothing more, nothing less. View it as such and it entertains, because this really isn't deserving of the scorn that is often poured down on it. 7/10


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