Random Film of the Week(end): Mr. Majestyk

Mr. Majestyk Goofy name of its main character aside, thanks to a snappy Elmore Leonard script, solid direction from Richard Fleisher and some enjoyable performances from its cast, you can’t not love Charles Bronson as a hard-nosed yet quiet Vietnam veteran turned single-minded melon farmer who simply wants to get his crop in while some people want him deceased for a few too amusing reasons.

The poor guy just wants to hire his labor from an eager pool of migrant workers of mostly Mexican descent, but a local hick/thug named Kopas tries to force his more local drunkard/bum laborers on Majestyk’s melon farm with the usual threats. Of course, Majestyk isn’t having any of this (just the thought of drunks picking melons is amazingly amusing), so his military training gets put to use, some asses are kicked and the former future vagrants and their “boss” get sent packing. The man’s got melons to pick and all fools are suffered VERY lightly…

Majestyk ShotgunMajestyk hires his happy to do the jobs Americans (except for coerced alcoholics) are too lazy to do border crew and hits it off with the gal in charge, but his determined melon farmer ass gets picked up and put in the can when Kopas presses assault charges (oops!). While cooling his heels in the local jail, he has a run-in with an imprisoned mobbia hit man Frank Renda (the always great Al Lettieri) who has a little surprise in the form of a prison bus break his men are setting up. Of course, Bronson breaks that job up by busting the breakout plans in progress, more or less kidnapping Renda with hopes to ship his butt back to jail as soon as he can. Renda tries to buy him off to let him go, but Majestyk’s melon fetish makes him a driven man…

Of course, Renda’s got some helpful people who manage to get him away from his fruit-obsessed “captor” and once he’s freed, Renda decides he wants to get revenge on the melon farmer, his crop and maybe some of those workers he’s hired. Things, as they say, get heated up with slo-mo melon carnage, Majestyk finding his crop slain before kicking more gangland ass which leads into the film’s highlight: a great eight-minute truck chase/action scene featuring a pale yellow 1968 Ford F-100 being put through the wringer.

According to a few sites I poked around on (and a vintage TV commercial I vaguely recall), that amazingly nimble truck was completely stock as if it came right from the dealership and ready for its close-ups. It looks as it’s about to shake itself apart in at least one early part of the chase, but the damn thing can FLY like it’s in a Spielberg film or a country version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:

F-100 Has Wings

And no, that picture isn’t faked – check out that clip below for proof. I can’t drive at all and I want a F-100. Same year, color and balls of the stunt guy behind the wheel. It’s actually cool that there’s Bronson’s gal pal behind the wheel for a bit doing some heavy driving before he takes the wheel and really gets blazing around the scenery.

Anyway, some gunplay and a few forced wrecks later and some more plot advancement (i.e., the rest of the bad guys getting bumped off) and Mr. Majestyk more or less ends up back where it begins with the man and his melons getting some TLC. The film quite well works because it’s a dirt-simple story, the editing is excellent and Bronson manages to make Mr. M. a classic nice guy pushed too far without being TOO stupidly invincible. Well, any living person would have had his spine snapped or been flung out of the back of that truck like he was when it was bouncing around, and yeah, yeah – this is a film where jumping through a window causes not a scratch (let me try that tomorrow and get back to you with the results. My prediction is PAIN). That said, this one’s a cool slice of hot action for those blazing summer evenings. Pair it up with 1972’s The Mechanic (another of Bronson’s better parts) and you’re good for a few days of extra tough testosterone freshness…

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