As I drove home today I heard that Michael Winner sadly passed away earlier today at the age of 77. A successful movie director and restaurant critic he has more recently become better know as for a series of television commercials. A man never short of an opinion and a man who everybody seems to have an opinion about. It is easy to forget he actually made some decent movies.
Starting out with the BBC before moving into movies, initially British crime thrillers, social satires and sex comedies before moving to Hollywood. His most famous, Death Wish (1974) was nothing short of a phenomenon in the 70’s and 80’s spawning four sequels and countless imitators. Looking back with modern eyes even the superior original hasn’t aged that well but it was very much of its time and does offer a visceral thriller the like of which we don’t see anymore in the this era of slick PG13/12A multiplex fillers. Well worth another look if you haven’t seen it for a long time. Hannibal Brooks (1969) sees Oliver Reed as a World War II POW trying to escape to the Swiss border with an Elephant that he had been looking after. The movie has a good blend of action, adventure and comedy and is perfect Sunday afternoon movie. For his first American movie, Lawman (1971) Winner chose the most American of genres, the Western. Staring Burt Lancaster and Robert Duvall it is a morality tale that asks more questions than it answers. The Mechanic (1972) starred Charles Bronson and Jan Michael Vincent as a hitman and his apprentice. Well acted with some great action and a great ending it is well worth seeing (it was remade in 2011 with Jason Statham and Ben Foster). The Stone Killer (1973) is a solid action crime thriller also starring Charles Bronson. Moving out of his comfort zone with ease, The Sentinel (1977) is a creepy satanic horror with a fantastic cast (including: Ava Gardner, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, Burgess Meredith, Eli Wallach, Jerry Orbach) that is sadly under seen.
So next time a Michael Winner movie is on TV or you are looking for something to stream give it a go.