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  Mr. Majestyk Flip You, Melonfarmer
Year: 1974
Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Charles Bronson, Al Lettieri, Linda Cristal, Lee Purcell, Paul Koslo, Taylor Lacher, Frank Maxwell, Alejandro Rey, Jordan Rhodes, Bert Santos
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Vince Majestyk (Charles Bronson) is a melon farmer whose crop is ready to be harvested and he's looking for workers. He happens to stop at a gas station to fill up and use the restroom, and is waiting for his change when a couple of cars full of migrant workers pulls up. They want to use the restrooms too, but the attendant tells them they're both out of order; Majestyk immediately can tell that there's something dubious going on and orders the attendant to let the Mexicans in, but he complains that his boss wouldn't like it. Majestyk won't take no for an answer, and the man relents: soon the farmer has a new friend in the migrants' leader Nancy Chavez (Linda Cristal) - but he's about to make a load of new enemies...

After Quentin Tarantino mentioned it in the dialogue for True Romance, film buffs stated to treat Mr. Majestyk as something more than a late night movie to kill time before you headed off to bed at the end of the day. It is one of Bronson's better films of the decade that truly made him an international star, with a script well-tailored to his talents by Elmore Leonard providing him with a model of self-reliance to play. Naturally, this fit his screen persona like a glove, but his character has a single mindedness that makes him quite amusing as the man is obsessed with melons. Every conversation he has gets around to the produce eventually, and you can play a drinking game if you're so inclined whenever they're mentioned or appear onscreen.

If you don't mind getting completely hammered, that is - he even keeps a melon in his house, presumably for emergencies. Trouble is, there are many obstacles in Majestyk's way to securing his crop for distribution, and the first is that when he arrives back at his farm, there are already people picking it. These are winos who have been rounded up by unscrupulous local businessmen and work cheap and non-union, but Majestyk is having none of that and orders them off, telling their representative Bobby Kopas (a sneaky Paul Koslo) that he has workers he wishes to use instead. There is a brief altercation when Kopas pulls a gun, but that's a mistake as he is sent packing along with his winos.

So we can judge that this farmer is not to be messed with, and also that he is not to be pushed around, sticks up for the disenfranchised (er, unless they're winos) and is an all round good egg. The police don't see it that way, however, and Kopas puts in a complaint that sees Majestyk hauled off to jail - don't they understand that there's a crop of melons to be gathered? Well, if they didn't before they sure do now, because it's his favourite topic of conversation, but there's a certain individual who he meets in prison who could either prove his downfall or his ticket out of incarceration. He is Mafia hitman Frank Renda (Al Lettieri) and he's not a very nice man: he won't even give Majestyk his sausage!

He'd just left it on the side of his plate, he wasn't going to eat it! Obviously a bad 'un, Renda is the subject of an attempt to spring him when the prisoners are transferred, but in the mayhem the melon farmer takes control and kidnaps the hitman himself. Taking him up to his hunting shack, he phones the cops to arrange a deal: let him off and he'll give them Renda. But this leads to a battle of wills as Renda feels he has been slighted by this more capable fellow, and after he escapes he vows revenge on him. Meanwhile the melons are being picked by the migrants he was nice to, and Nancy emerges as girlfriend material for our hero. All this is building inexorably to a showdown between the two lead characters, and the police are noticeably ineffectual, but the final cat and mouse action sequences are well worth the wait, appropriately muscular and satisfying in their down and dirty manner. Mr. Majestyk may not be the best film Bronson ever made, but ask any fan of late night TV and they'll tell you how pleasing this is to watch. Music by Charles Bernstein.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Fleischer  (1916 - 2006)

American director whose Hollywood career spanned five decades. The son of famed animator Max Fleischer, he started directing in the forties, and went on to deliver some stylish B-movies such as Armored Car Robbery and Narrow Margin. His big break arrived with Disney's hit live action epic, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and which he followed up with such films as The Vikings, Compulsion, Fantastic Voyage, The Boston Strangler, true crime story 10 Rillington Place, See No Evil, cult favourite Soylent Green, Mister Majestyk, Amityville 3-D and sequel Conan the Destroyer. He became unfairly well known for his critical flops, too, thanks to Doctor Dolittle, Che!, Mandingo, The Jazz Singer remake, Red Sonja and Million Dollar Mystery, some of which gained campy cult followings, but nevertheless left a solid filmography to be proud of.

 
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