Release Date(s)1974 (December 7, 2021)
Studio(s)The Mirisch Corporation/United Artists (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B
Charles Bronson was a seasoned veteran by the time Mr. Majestyk was released in the summer of 1974. He had been starring in several films, including Chato’s Land, The Stone Killer, and The Mechanic, before that working his way up in films like The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape, and Once Upon a Time in the West. By the 1970s, he had become one of Hollywood’s most bankable movie stars. The same year as Mr. Majestyk, Death Wish was also released, which further pushed his star status and tough guy, anti-hero persona. In Mr. Majestyk, he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life as a farmer and make a little money, but the local goons force him into becoming the shotgun-toting, truck-chasing, revenge-seeking character that audiences wanted him to be for the rest of his career. Directed by Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and written by Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty), this revenge actioner pushes Bronson to his genre-defining limits as he blows away the bad guys one by one.
Farmer, ex-con, and Vietnam veteran Vince Majestyk (Bronson) is having financial difficulties, hoping that his next watermelon crop will yield a good payday. He hires Mexican migrants to pick for him, including his potential love interest Nancy (Linda Cristal). Things don’t look too good when a group of hoods, led by Bobby Kopas (Paul Koslo), attempt to push their own workers on him, leading to an assault in the streets in which Majestyk is eventually arrested. During a prisoner transport, local hit man Frank Renda (Al Lettieri) nearly escapes, but Majestyk takes him hostage, hoping to turn him over in exchange for his own release. Renda vows vengeance against him, and after the two men are separated, Renda with his girlfriend and partner Wiley (Lee Purcell) go after Majestyk and his farm. Unfortunately for them, Majestyk won’t go down so easy.
Mr. Majestyk was shot by director of photography Richard H. Kline on 35 mm film with Panavision cameras and lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings the film to Blu-ray for a second time from a new 2K master, likely from an interpositive. It’s a cooler presentation overall as the previous release ran a little hot in regards to color, brightness, and contrast. Depth is boosted, especially in the many wide vistas, but also along the country dirt roads and forested areas. Grain is much more refined with sharper detail in close-ups and on clothing and objects. The color palette is awash with beautiful blue skies and lush green grass (as well as watermelons). Flesh tones are natural and blacks are solid with good shadow detail. The image is stable and clean aside from minor speckling. It’s definitely an improvement over Kino Lorber’s previous Blu-ray release. Purists will also be happy to know that the film opens with the vintage Transamerica logo.
Audio is provided in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional subtitles in English SDH. This appears to be the same track as the previous release. Dialogue is well-rendered and clean with good push for the sound effects and score, even with a bit of low end activity.
The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary by Paul Talbot
- Colorado Cool (HD – 13:59)
- Colorado Chic (HD – 27:57)
- TV Spot (HD – :32)
- Trailer (SD – 1:33)
- Farewell, Friend Trailer (SD – 4:02)
- Rider on the Rain Trailer (SD – 3:53)
- Violent City (aka The Family) Trailer (HD – 3:54)
- Cold Sweat Trailer (SD – 2:36)
The audio commentary and the interviews are all carried over from the Signal One Entertainment Region B Blu-ray release of the film. Paul Talbot, a life-long fan of Charles Bronson and author of the book Bronson’s Loose Again! On the Set with Charles Bronson, discusses many facets of the production, noting that it was originally offered to Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen, both of whom turned the project down. He delves into The Mirisch Corporation, Charles Bronson’s personal and professional career up to this point, dealing with the watermelons, and the history of the production. He details many of the film’s key figures’ backgrounds and careers, including Richard Fleischer. As always, it’s a great commentary from a man who frequently speaks about Bronson on several home video releases of his films.
Colorado Cool interviews director of photography Richard H. Kline. He discusses working with Richard Fleischer, the oddity of the film’s premise, dealing with real watermelons, working with Charles Bronson, action sequences in the film, having good vehicles for stunt sequences, and what Bronson was like on the set. Colorado Chic interviews actress Lee Purcell. She discusses the film’s cult following, her career at the time, turning it down initially, the script, working with Richard Fleischer, meeting the cast, her thoughts on Charles Bronson and working with him, working with and becoming close to Al Lettieri and his wife, developing her character, her costumes, the fate of her character, and her career afterwards. The rest of the extras consist of a TV spot and trailer for the film, as well as trailers for other Kino Lorber releases featuring Charles Bronson.
The disc sits in a blue amaray case with reversible artwork featuring the original US poster artwork on the front and the Belgian poster artwork on the reverse. Everything is housed in a slipcover with the same US poster artwork. Nearly everything from previous releases of the film have carried over aside from the still gallery that was included on the aforementioned Signal One Entertainment Region B Blu-ray release.
Kino Lorber ups the ante of their previous release of Mr. Majestyk with a better presentation and a nice extras package (all that was available on the previous Blu-ray release was the film’s trailer). For Charles Bronson fans, this is an easy upgrade.
- Tim Salmons