Open-minded architect Paul Kersey returns to New York City from vacationing with his wife, feeling on top of the world. At the office, his cynical coworker gives him the welcome-back with a warning on the rising crime rate. But Paul, a bleeding-heart liberal, thinks of crime as being caused by poverty. However his coworker's ranting proves to be more than true when Paul's wife is killed and his daughter is raped in his own apartment. The police have no reliable leads and his overly sensitive son-in-law only exacerbates Paul's feeling of hopelessness. He is now facing the reality that the police can't be everywhere at once. Out of sympathy his boss gives him an assignment in sunny Arizona where Paul gets a taste of the Old West ideals. He returns to New York with a compromised view on muggers... Written by
Director Michael Winner was anxious before production because he was waiting for Charles Bronson to tell him he wanted Jill Ireland to play his wife in the movie, despite Winner's feeling she was unsuitable for the part. Finally he said to Bronson, "Charlie, do you want Jill to play your wife in 'Death Wish'?" Bronson replied, "No. I don't want her humiliated and messed around by these actors who play muggers. You know the sort of person we want? Someone who looks like Hope Lange." Lange was an attractive, blonde, all-American "girl next door" type who had starred in the TV series The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1968) and The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971). Winner said, "Well, Charlie, the person who looks most like Hope Lange is Hope Lange. So I'll get her." And he did. See more »
When Ochoa is meeting with the District Attorney and the Commissioner in the DA office, the DA offers both of them a bowl of jelly beans to choose from. Ochoa pulls his hand from his pocket and anticipates grabbing a jelly bean before he's even shown the bowl. See more »
Actresses Olympia Dukakis ('Cop at the Precinct') and Marcia Jean Kurtz as Marcia Jean-Kurtz ('Woman at Airport') get credited in opening credits only. There's no mention of them in the closing credits. See more »
I guess by now you could call this movie a "classic." It would meet most definitions. It was so popular that it spawned a number of sequels, but they just got dumb and dumber. This is one of the most famous "revenge" movies ever made and still stands up today.
This was a very, very simple story and it panders to our base instincts which is probably why it was so successful. Most people want justice, and they want it now....which is what this movie preaches. At the time, the movie was shocking. If it came out today, it wouldn't have nearly the impact. However, the early scene of the mother and daughter raped and killed is still horrifying. That will never change.
The story then slows down as we see the transformation of the husband, from conscientious objector to vigilante. When Charles Bronson hits the streets, the film picks up big-time. The movie also ends on a very satisfying note.
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