Charlie Bronson, one of my personal heroes. I'm serious. I've got a framed autographed picture of him, courtesy of the missus. Here's my five favourite Bronson films. (I've not counted Once Upon A Time IN The West, because this is supposed to be a list of Bronson star vehicles rather than 'good films he's been in').
The first, the original... Death Wish. A classic - easily Michael Winner's best FILM, as opposed to Michael Winner's best SHIT film. Bronson is amazing in this, seriously great - genuine acting rather than a parody of stoic vengeance, as he later became. Vicious rape scene at the start, in some ways a lot worse than Death Wish 2 as it's more powerful and doesn't resemble a comic book like the sequel does. Some great scenes in general, especially the moment when Paul Kersey realises he's just killed a man for the first time. The Herbie Hancock score is amazing as well.
Bronson-O-Meter: 10/10 (excellent acting, believable characterisation, brooding screen presence)
Bronson: "What do you call people who, when they're faced with a condition or fear, do nothing about it, they just run and hide?"
Horrible sequel, but if you watch the cut version (with the massively reduced rape scene) then it's pretty good. I've got a soft spot for it cos I watched a sparkly jumpy TV version of it endlessly when I was a kid.
Bronson-O-Meter: 9/10 (the way he changes from day-Bronson to night-Bronson is particularly effective)
Bronson: "Do you believe in Jesus?"
Rapist: "Yes, I do"
Bronson: "Well, you're going to meet him."
Well, this is by far the shittest Death Wish film, but in that regard it reaches highs of unbelievable stupidity and therefore becomes hilarious. (I refer you to an astonishingly accurate review of it over at Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension. Very comprehensive.) Made in the era of Commando and the like, it's an attempt to move into the action movie genre.
Bronson-O-Meter: 6/10 (he looks uncomfortable and out-of-sorts, scurrying about amongst London rubble)
Bronson: "I'm going out for some ice cream... this is America, isn't it?"
Ten To Midnight is great fun (if that's the appropriate term), a mix of a slasher and police thriller (gotta remember that it came out in 83, the peak time for Hollywood's 'just=past-it' attitude of jumping on a bandwagon... B-Movie cannibalism, if you will) with Bronson as badass cop Leo Kessler hunting Gene Davis (massively effective as sexually ambiguous women ripper Warren Stacy). Great stuff.
Bronson-O-Meter: 8/10 (appropriately stoic and angry)
Bronson: (referring to murdered girl's diary entry about a 'creep'] "Do you know who that is, Warren?
[Warren doesn't respond]
...I'll give you a hint - YOU."
Great adaptation of Elmore Leonard's story about Vince Makestyk, a mild-mannered farmer who suffers with mob-related labour trouble. Apart from a crammed-in subplot to do with the mafia boss getting busted out of custody, this is a really good, thoguhtful and enjoyable film. It also has Brosnons talking about leaving his melons alone, which makes the film worth a purchase in my book.
Bronson-O-Meter: 9/10 (he plays a different character here... salt of the earth farmer who gets pushed too far)
Bronson: "You make sounds like you're a mean little ass-kicker, only I ain't convinced. You keep talking and I'm gonna take your head off."