Bad Ass Double Feature: Mr. Majestyk (1974) & Magnum Force (1973)
When I discovered Mr. Majestyk existed, it kind of blew my mind. I read the Elmore Leonard book of the same name years ago and am always down to check out his film adaptations. Then, it turned out that the film starred the amazingly awesome Charles Bronson. Boom. Done. Get me that movie.
Unlike About A Boy — which I finished reading and then watched the film version of within a few weeks — it had been a pretty substantial amount of time between reading the book and seeing the movie. The plot of the book did start coming back to me as I watched the film, which makes sense because Leonard also wrote the screenplay. Basically, Bronson plays Mr. Majestyk a watermelon farmer who uses migrant workers to tend his fields. Some petty gangster tries to muscle in his own workers and Majestyk kicks his ass. That guy presses charges and Majestyk gets locked up with a big time mobster. While being transported somewhere the mobster’s boys try to bust them out, but Majestyk and the mobster are handcuffed and Majestyk drives them away and they hide out. After a somewhat complicated first act, it becomes a simple revenge plot with the obsessed mobster going after Bronson and his farm. They even shoot watermelons.
On one hand, the story is kind of fun and interesting, but on the other, this is essentially like every other Charles Bronson movie ever made. Jerks mess with the old guy thinking he can’t defend himself, then he exacts his revenge. The details pad out the story and either raise or lower the creepiness factor (there’s pretty much none here, but it’s high in something like Deathwish 2). So, yes, I liked this movie very much. If you like movies where dudes take justice into their own hands, then you’ll dig it too.
After checking out Majestyk, which I got through traditional Netflix, I then watched Enter The Dragon from my own collection and then capped off my badass 70s marathon with the second (and longest) Dirty Harry movie Magnum Force. In this one, it appears as though a cop is killing bad guys the system lets slip through the cracks. SPOILER, it turns out that it’s actually a quartet of young motorcycle cops, two of which were played by Tim Matheson and Robert Urich.
The idea in this flick is that Clint Eastwood wanted to make it clear that Harry isn’t actually a vigilante, but does have problems with the system. These guys completely ignore the law and take matters into their own hands. It’s an interesting idea to tackle and holds up when you think about the first film, where he bends the rules, but doesn’t completely break them (all).
Anyway, I’m a Dirty Harry fan, so I dug this movie. Eastwood absolutely kills in pretty much everything I’ve seen him do in the 70s. This one’s a little longer than it needs to be, but like I said, I had a good time. I’m curious to go back and watch all of the Dirty Harry movies (I’ve got the first four in my collection missing only the last one) and see how they hold up. I’m sure my nostalgia for the property will bolster any negative aspects I notice, but them’s the breaks when watching something you started to dig when you were a kid. My dad showed me these movies when I was younger and we’d rent them or watch them on TV together fairly often.