Charles Bronson was born on November 3, 1921. He was an American actor who played the roles of gunmen, police officers, and vigilantes in revenge plots. He had a long-term collaboration with directors such as Michael Winner and J. Kee Thompson. He appeared in 15 movies with his second wife named Jill Ireland.
In the early 1970s, he was at the height of his fame and he was the number one box office attraction in the world with $1 million per film. The tough man par excellence, Charles Bronson had a busy film career in Hollywood. Also, in Europe where he had ten leading roles as a Death Wish actor. All in all, Bronson appeared in a huge film of 1993, a mix of non-English and European Hollywood productions.
Top Iconic Movie Roles Of Charles Bronson
Harmonica in Once Upon A Time In The West
In Sergio Leone’s masterpiece, Bronson played the role of Harmonica, a skilled shooter. The film ironically opens with him where he shot three men who were sent to kill him. In the rest of the film, Harmonica’s job was to protect the widow wanted by a murderer.
Before appearing on Once Upon A Time In The West, Bronson had turned down the roles in previous movies of Sergio Leone. Also, he turned down the role of Blondie in Dollars Trilogy. This trilogy went to Clint Eastwood. The role is now seen as the best of Eastwood.
Bernardo O’ Reilly in The Magnificent Seven
In The Magnificent Seven, Bronson had interesting quotes. For example, when asked why his name does not seem specific to a certain region, he would reply that it is his real name. Irish on one side, Mexican on the other, and him in the middle. Also, when he was teaching a kid to how to shoot, he used to say that didn’t he tell the kid to squeeze just like milking a goat.
Other stars in the movie like Steve McQueen and Eli Wallach are featured in the movie but Bronson was capable of stealing the show. The role made him popular in Russia, where the film was a big hit. A remake of the film in which Denzel Washington starred was recently released and it failed to be enthusiastic than the original one.
Danny Velinski in The Great Escape
The Great Escape tells the real story of prisoners of war from allied nations who tried to escape from a Nazi camp. Of the 250 prisoners of war, only 76 were able to escape from the camp. Also, the number continues to declines as they are driven out. Steve McQueen playing the role of Hilts had one of the best motorcycle chase scenes in movie history.
As Flight Lieutenant Danny Velinski, the character of Bronson was tasked to oversee the digging of a tunnel to remove the POWs out of the camp. He was dubbed as The Tunnel King in the movie. McQueen and Bronson were praised for their performances and the film won numerous awards.
Chaney in Hard Times
Hard Times is having a lot of fighting in the movie. Chuck Norris would be jealous of it. it is like a UFC in movie form. There are impressive action scenes in the movie and somewhat reminiscent of The Raid. In the movie, every punch is shocking and it seems like everyone in the movie is well trained.
In the movie, Bronson was not smiling either. Also, he did not talk much in the movie. He played the role of Chaney, who was a Depression Era Street Fighter. He used to fight with bare knuckles and he became friends with a crafty promoter named Speed. Chaney used him to make his professional boxing career successful in New Orleans.
Arthur Bishop in The Mechanic
It is hard to say which movie is better between Jason Statham’s remake and the original starring Bronson. In The Mechanic, Bronson plays the role of Bishop, who was a hitman focusing on taking down the criminals. He decides to sponsor a young man but, in the end, the relationship became complicated.
Bishop in the movie is extremely anti-social and his philosophy is to kill with a killing license. In a way, the anti-social behavior of the character was not too far removed from the real-life Bronson’s personality. Most of the time, he was left alone during the production run and he rarely watches movies, even his own.
Harry Dobs in Rider On The Rain
Bronson was already a big star in Europe. It was even before the time he was liked in the United States. Rider on the Rain is the reason behind it. In an interview, Bronson lashed out that he can play better roles than most of the American actors of the 1970s.
In Rider On The Rain, Bronson played a serious investigator role who was solving the murder/rape case. Since it was a French movie, he volunteered to learn the language. This was a rare case for future non-English movies.
Graham Dorsey in From Noon Till Three
Although Bronson is not known to be wearing a smile he has more reach than initially appeared. In From Noon Till Three, Bronson appeared on the screen alongside his real wife, Jill Ireland. The film was having a plot of Western comedy that strikes the perfect balance between the precise and absurd.
Charles Bronson played the role of Dorsey, a gang member who doubts a planned robbery. It was because of the nightmare he had. On the other hand, Jill had 15 more movies with her husband Bronson.
Joseph Wladislaw in The Dirty Dozen
There are a few Inglorious Basterds in the movie. In The Dirty Dozen, Bronson played the role of Joseph, a murderer who was sentenced to death by hanging. Along with a few other convicts, he was offered to be free if he voluntarily wants to be a part of a secret mission. It was a mission to derail the Nazis in WWII.
At the end of the mission, most of the men died. One of them died even after parachute landing by breaking his neck. However, Bronson as Wladislaw managed to go all the way and complete his mission. This movie was nominated for four Oscars and won one.
Joe Valachi in The Valachi Papers
Charles Bronson plays Joe Valachi, who was a real spy who confided in the authorities on the inner working of the Genoese criminal family. The movie is based on a non-fiction book of the same name. The intriguing part of the movie is that Valachi was held in the same prison as Vito Genovese, the boss he is attacking.
The story goes on with the flashbacks and follows the life of Valachi from a low-level gangster to of the best mafia guys. The performance of Bronson was widely praised but the critics viewed the film as a poor man’s godfather.
Vince Majestyk in Mr. Majestyk
The movie is based on a novel that revolves around the Chicano migrant workers. But the main focus was on the character of Bronson. It turned out to be a good decision as the tough actor carried the film on his shoulders from start to finish. Majestyk follows a Vietnam veteran called Vince Majestyk who decides to settle in rural Colorado and make a living as a farmer.
Due to his inability to remain calm, he soon found himself in prison where he prevents an escape organized by a Mafia boss named Frank Renda. The Mob puts a target on his back but they were not able to kill him because he is Mr. Majestyk.
Charles Bronson – Tough Guy With No Smile
Coming from a poor family, Bronson has been one of the most recognizable tough guys in Hollywood. The fact is that he was a pilot in US Air Force during WWII. He flew 25 missions and received a Purple Heart. It is an honor bestowed on the soldiers who have been wounded in the war. All of these factors made the resume of Charles Bronson more impressive.
Bronson was known as a tough guy and he did not wear a smile during his movies. All the movies he has been to are either about a spy or killer or vigilantes in revenge plots. He died on August 30, 2003, at the age of 81.