If I’m honest, The Stone Killer didn’t make a great deal of sense to me. It’s about a Mafia Don avenging a massacre against his family from 40 years ago by using Vietnam veterans but outside of that there are scenes and sub-plots that I either didn’t understand or were not explained competently. I don’t usually give myself much credit in these instances, but I would like to think that this is more to do with this being a Michael Winner film than me being the usual dumbass. For the record, I really don’t mind Winner’s films.
It’s still decent fun, mind you. I didn’t buy Charles Bronson as one of those cops that just slaps people round and threatens everyone that doesn’t give him the information he needs. Too many years playing a good guy means that any film where he’s given a slightly darker edge is inevitably going to struggle with me. Plus Martin Balsam isn’t in this nearly enough, and I don’t even recall him sharing any scenes with Bronson, which I think was an opportunity missed.
All in all, pretty standard crime fare that does have a couple of novelties. The Waltons’ dad pops up as an incredibly racist and incompetent detective and John Ritter makes an early appearance as an equally useless rookie. There’s one ludicrous car chase and a couple of excellent shoot-outs and that’s about it, but it’s worth a look if you like this kind of thing.
• Audio commentary by journalist and critic Nick Pinkerton
• Mr. Blonde: Paul Koslo on ‘The Stone Killer’ (2017): the colourful character actor discusses his work on the film and relationship with star Charles Bronson
• The John Player Lecture with Michael Winner (1970): audio recording of an interview with the director conducted by Margaret Hinxman at the National Film Theatre, London
• Isolated score track
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: on-set and production photography, and material from the personal collection of Michael Winner
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet with a new essay by Paul Talbot, author of Bronson’s Loose! The Making of the ‘Death Wish’ Filmsand Bronson’s Loose Again! On the Set with Charles Bronson, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film.
Action, Crime, Thriller | UK/USA, 1973 | 18 | 26th June 2017 (UK) | Powerhouse Films | Dir.Michael Winner | Charles Bronson, Martin Balsam, Jack Colvin | Buy: [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
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