Charles Bronson was an iconic Hollywood actor from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. He starred in films such as The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, and Death Wish, earning a reputation as a hard-bitten tough guy on screen. In reality, though, he was a thoughtful and private person, a painter and a family man. However, despite being nothing like his characters, his own life could have made a fascinating action drama as well. Bronson not only overcame a traumatic childhood, he fought in World War II and earned a Purple Heart.
Bronson’s image as a hard man was well earned. He was usually typecast as a vigilante-type seeking revenge, perhaps due to having the sort of face which portrayed cold anger well. And his films were so violent that they caused public stirs. Death Wish, especially, was considered to be an outright dangerous film.
Critics hated the movie. The New York Times’ film reviewer Vincent Canby denounced it in two separate articles, calling it “a despicable movie, one that raises complex questions in order to offer bigoted, frivolous, oversimplified answers.” Even the man who wrote the book Death Wish was based on, author Brian Garfield, spoke out against it.