The Mechanic


1h 40m 1972

Brief Synopsis

An experienced hit man takes a beginner under his wing.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
Nov 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Nov 1972; Los Angeles opening: 22 Nov 1972
Production Company
Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Amalfi,Italy; Naples,Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

In a cheap hotel in downtown Los Angeles, successful, middle-aged professional killer Arthur Bishop, the son of a deceased gang leader, observes a small apartment across the street, taking numerous photographs with a long-range lens. Arthur later spends time studying the photographs and monitoring the activities of the elderly man who lives in the apartment. Through skill and perfect timing, Arthur booby traps the man's stove to explode and kill him, thus making his death seem to be the result of an accidental gas explosion. Later, at his expensive, modern home in the hills above Los Angeles, Arthur burns all of his research documents, listens to classical music and studies his favorite painting. He then receives a phone call from agitated Harry McKenna, a member of a crime association who used to work for Arthur's father, asking for a visit. Because of their personal relationship, and the fact that the leaders of the association still holds Arthur's late father in a place of reverence, Harry, who is out of favor with the association, asks Arthur for his help. Before leaving Harry's estate, Arthur meets Harry's son Steve, a cocky young man who enjoys a playboy lifestyle. At home, Arthur receives a special delivery package that contains photographs and information on Harry, who is his next "mark." After studying the documents and surveying a cliff near the ocean, where he monitors his heart rate following a brisk run up the hill, Arthur receives a phone call from the man instructing him to "go ahead, anytime." Soon Arthur is driving to the cliff near the ocean with the grateful Harry, who thinks that Arthur has arranged a meeting for him. While Harry walks down to the shore, Arthur drives to the top of the cliff, then shoots, but deliberately misses, the terrified Harry. Arthur then calls out to Harry, saying that the meeting was a set up and urging him to run back to the car. While Arthur continues to shoot near misses, Harry, thinking that Arthur is trying to save him, struggles up the cliff, even though he is experiencing severe chest pains. Once at the car, Harry realizes that Arthur has set him up and tells him to "finish it," which Arthur does by placing his hand over Harry's mouth. At Harry's funeral, Steve talks with Arthur and asks for a ride home. At the McKenna home, where a wild party is in progress, Steve admits that, like his father, he is tired of his leeching friends. When Steve's girl friend, Louise, calls and threatens suicide, Arthur agrees to go along with Steve to her house, where she calmly cuts her wrists with a razor blade, insisting that Steve will never let her die. More than an hour later, when she has become cold from the gradual blood loss, Steve indifferently throws his car keys to her and says that she can reach the sheriff's station in Malibu in fifteen minutes if she tries. Later, Arthur asks Steve if he would have let Louise die, but Steve will not reveal his feelings, prompting Arthur to comment that he has his own code. During the following weeks, Arthur spends his days training and relaxing. One day, while visiting Marineland, he passes out while looking at the fish tank. Although the emergency room intern does not know if the incident was the result of physical or psychological causes, he suggests that Arthur have some tests, but Arthur declines. One morning, Arthur wakes up to discover Steve sleeping in his car in the driveway. The men talk, and over the next weeks spend time together, with Steve constantly questioning Arthur about his relationship to the association, and Arthur refusing to admit to anything, even though Steve is anxious to be involved. Arthur takes Steve to a karate match in which Yamoto, an older master from Japan, is pitted against Kori, a younger, more aggressive American opponent. When the younger man makes an illegal jab at the master, after the match has ended, Yamoto pummels Kori, almost beating him to death. That night, Arthur finally relents and tells Steve that he is a "mechanic," a professional killer, and would be willing to take Steve on as an associate to help with some of the more complicated jobs. Steve happily agrees and spends the next several weeks going through extensive training, impressing Arthur with his skill and nerve. After Arthur receives a package with information on his next mark, he includes Steve in the plan, which involves killing someone in a seemingly impregnable estate. By following the mark and lip-reading conversations observed with a telephoto lens, Arthur learns that a chicken delivery van will arrive at the estate a few days later. After ambushing the van and putting Steve in the driver's place, they gain access to the estate and push through the door, but there are so many bodyguards that their mark is able to escape on his motorbike. Arthur chases him through the hills on a bike he had hidden in the van and eventually maneuvers the mark over a cliff, where he dies in a fiery crash. Worried about the problems with the kill, Steve is assured by Arthur that killing is not always predictable. Back at his house, Arthur is summoned for a meeting with the man at his lavish estate, where the man expresses his displeasure over Arthur taking in a partner, Harry's son, without consulting the association. Arthur defends the choice, insisting he makes decisions about how he works. The man then gives Arthur a new assignment in Naples, saying that it must be done quickly in order to appease his associates. Arthur then goes to Steve's house, and when he secretly looks through Steve's desk he is stunned to find a dossier of photographs and papers about him. For the next few days, simultaneous to their preparations for Italy, Steve furtively studies Arthur's dossier, while Arthur creates a dossier on Steve. When the pair arrive in Italy, they stalk their mark and are frustrated that he does not follow a pattern. Still holding to his code of operation, Arthur refuses to do a quick hit and comes upon a plan whereby they will kill the mark where he is most vulnerable, on his yacht. He and Steve don scuba attire and swim to the yacht, but soon realize that they have been set up. After blowing up the yacht, Steve and Arthur drive along the winding Amalfi coast, followed by henchmen from the association, whom Arthur knows have been sent to kill him. With skill and cunning, Arthur and Steve are able to dispose of all of them. Back in Naples, after Arthur finishes packing, Steve offers him a glass of his favorite Neapolitan wine. Although suspicious, Arthur sniffs the glass, then drinks from it. Moments later, as Arthur begins to have pains, Steve reveals that he used a tasteless, odorless acid on the glass and that Arthur will be dead within a few moments, seemingly from a heart attack. When Arthur asks if it was because of Harry, Steve says "So you did that? I thought it was a heart attack," then says that he will chose his own marks and retorts "see Naples and die" before leaving Arthur writhing on the floor. Back in Los Angeles, Steve goes to Arthur's house, pleased that he has assumed Arthur's lifestyle, but when he enters his car, he finds a hand-written note from Arthur indicating that if Steve is reading the note, then Arthur is dead. The note adds that Steve has activated a thirteen-second trip wire and "Bang, you're dead." As a panicked Steve tries to leave the car, it explodes, instantly killing him.

Crew

Richard F. Albain

Special Effects

Eric Andersen

1st Assistant Camera

Jeff Benjamin

Assistant to the prod

Al Bettcher

Camera Operator

Eugene T. Booth

Props Master

Clifton Brandon

Prod Manager, for European seq

Colin J. Campbell

Gaffer

Lewis John Carlino

Original Screenplay

Pamela Carlton

Cont, for European seq

Robert Chartoff

Producer

Francesco Cinieri

Assistant Director, for European seq

Stephen Cory

Assistant to Director, for European seq

Betty Crosby

Script Supervisor

Janet Crosby

Secretary to the prod

Robert Devestel

Set Decoration

Mel Efros

2d Assistant Director

Jerry Fielding

Music Composition and Conducting

Henry Gellis

Associate Producer

Alan R. Gibbs

Stunt Coordinator

Clyde W. Hart

Key grip

Russ Hill

Dial Editor

Norman Jones

Camera op, for European seq

Richard H. Kline

Director of Photography

Mario Mariani

Prod Manager, for European seq

Lambert Marks

Costumes

Rodger E. Maus

Art Director

Brian Paxton

Re-recordist, for European seq

Robert Paynter

Director of Photographer, for European seq

Hal Polaire

Prod Supervisor

Peter Price

Assistant Director, for European seq

Terence Rawlings

Dubbing Editor

Phillip Rhodes

Makeup

Alfred F. Schultz

Transportation

Jerome M. Siegel

Assistant Director

Lynn Stalmaster

Casting

Robert Stevens

2d Assistant Camera

Antonio Tarruella

2d unit Director, for European seq

Burdick S. Trask

Sound Mixer

Ray Traynor

Props master, for European seq

Herbert Westbrook

Art Director, for European seq

Freddie Wilson

Supervising Editor

Irwin Winkler

Producer

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Release Date
Nov 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Nov 1972; Los Angeles opening: 22 Nov 1972
Production Company
Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Amalfi,Italy; Naples,Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.


Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute.

After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland.

TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place:

8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960)
10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963)
1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967)
4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976)

Charles Bronson, 1921-2003

Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81.

He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him.

Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954).

Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West.

These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977).

Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole
Tcm Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13Th - Tcm Remembers Charles Bronson This Saturday, Sept. 13Th 2003.

TCM Remembers Charles Bronson - Sept. 13th - TCM Remembers Charles Bronson this Saturday, Sept. 13th 2003.

Turner Classic Movies will honor the passing of Hollywood action star Charles Bronson on Saturday, Sept. 13, with a four-film tribute. After years of playing supporting roles in numerous Western, action and war films, including THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960, 8 p.m.) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967, 1:15 a.m.), Bronson finally achieved worldwide stardom as a leading man during the late 1960s and early 1970s. TCM's tribute will also include THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963, 10:15 p.m.), Bronson's second teaming with Steve McQueen and James Coburn, and will conclude with FROM NOON TILL THREE (1976, 4 a.m.), co-starring Jill Ireland. TCM will alter it's prime-time schedule this Saturday, Sept. 13th. The following changes will take place: 8:00 PM - The Magnificent Seven (1960) 10:15 PM - The Great Escape (1963) 1:15 AM - The Dirty Dozen (1967) 4:00 AM - From Noon Till Three (1976) Charles Bronson, 1921-2003 Charles Bronson, the tough, stony-faced actor who was one of the most recognizable action heroes in cinema, died on August 30 in Los Angeles from complications from pneumonia. He was 81. He was born Charles Buchinsky on November 3, 1921 in Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, one of fifteen children born to Lithuanian immigrant parents. Although he was the only child to have graduated high school, he worked in the coalmines to support his family until he joined the army to serve as a tail gunner during World War II. He used his money from the G.I. Bill to study art in Philadelphia, but while working as a set designer for a Philadelphia theater troupe, he landed a few small roles in some productions and immediately found acting to be the craft for him. Bronson took his new career turn seriously, moved to California, and enrolled for acting classes at The Pasadena Playhouse. An instructor there recommended him to director Henry Hathaway for a movie role and the result was his debut in Hathaway's You're in the Navy Now (1951). He secured more bit parts in films like John Sturges' drama The People Against O'Hara (1951), and Joseph Newman's Bloodhounds of Broadway (1952). More substantial roles came in George Cukor's Pat and Mike (1952, where he is beaten up by Katharine Hepburn!); Andre de Toth's classic 3-D thriller House of Wax (1953, as Vincent Price's mute assistant, Igor); and De Toth's fine low-budget noir Crime Wave (1954). Despite his formidable presence, his leads were confined to a string of B pictures like Gene Fowler's Gang War; and Roger Corman's tight Machine Gun Kelly (both 1958). Following his own television series, Man With a Camera (1958-60), Bronson had his first taste of film stardom when director Sturges casted him as Bernardo, one of the The Magnificent Seven (1960). Bronson displayed a powerful charisma, comfortably holding his own in a high-powered cast that included Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. A few more solid roles followed in Sturges' The Great Escape (1963), and Robert Aldrich's classic war picture The Dirty Dozen (1967), before Bronson made the decision to follow the European trail of other American actors like Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was there that his hard, taciturn screen personae exploded in full force. In 1968 alone, he had four hit films: Henri Verneuil's Guns for San Sebastian, Buzz Kulik's Villa Rides, Jean Herman's Adieu l'ami which was a smash in France; and the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti Western Once Upon a Time in the West. These films established Bronson as a huge box-office draw in Europe, and with some more stylish hits like Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain (1969), and Terence Young's Cold Sweat (1971) he soon became one of the most popular film stars in the world. It wasn't easy for Bronson to translate that success back in his homeland. In fact, his first few films on his return stateside: Michael Winners' Chato's Land, and The Mechanic (both 1972), and Richard Fleischer's Mr. Majestyk (1973), were surprisingly routine pictures. It wasn't until he collaborated with Winner again for the controversial Death Wish (1974), an urban revenge thriller about an architect who turns vigilante when his wife and daughter are raped, did he notch his first stateside hit. The next few years would be a fruitful period for Bronson as he rode on a wave of fine films and commercial success: a depression era streetfighter in Walter Hill's terrific, if underrated Hard Times (1975); Frank Gilroy's charming offbeat black comedy From Noon Till Three (1976, the best of many teamings with his second wife, Jill Ireland); Tom Gries tense Breakheart Pass; and Don Siegel's cold-war thriller Telefon (1977). Sadly, Bronson could not keep up the momentum of good movies, and by the '80s he was starring in a string of forgettable films like Ten to Midnight (1983), The Evil That Men Do (1984), and Murphy's Law (1986, all directed by J. Lee Thompson). A notable exception to all that tripe was John Mackenzie's fine telefilm Act of Vengeance (1986), where he earned critical acclaim in the role of United Mine Workers official Jack Yablonski. Although he more or less fell into semi-retirement in the '90s, his performances in Sean Penn's The Indian Runner (1991); and the title role of Michael Anderson's The Sea Wolf (1993) proved to many that Bronson had the makings of a fine character actor. He was married to actress Jill Ireland from 1968 until her death from breast cancer in 1990. He is survived by his third wife Kim Weeks, six children, and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

That was pretty cold.
- Arthur Bishop
I knew she wouldn't do it.
- Steve McKenna
But, had she done that, would be willing to pick up the tab?
- Arthur Bishop
You always have to be dead sure. Dead sure or dead.
- Arthur Bishop
It takes a special kind of person to do that.
- Arthur Bishop
I can dig it.
- Steve McKenna
You say you can "dig it". But, the fact is that you don't know what you're talking about.
- Arthur Bishop
You do?
- Steve McKenna
Do I?
- Arthur Bishop
Interesting. When he's cornered, he answers questions with questions.
- Steve McKenna
You're, uh, gonna be dead in five minutes.
- Steve McKenna
Murder is only killing without a license.
- Arthur Bishop

Trivia

The beginning of the film is completely free of dialogue. Nobody speaks a word until after the 16-minute mark.

Notes

The first several minutes of the film's action takes place under the opening credits, as "Arthur Bishop" (Charles Bronson) walks to the downtown Los Angeles hotel room and sets up his equipment for observing the "mark" across the street. Actor Lindsay Crosby's name is listed as "Lindsay H. Crosby" in the opening credits and misspelled as "Lindsey Crosby" in the end credits. According to Daily Variety and Hollywood Reporter news items in 1969, Cliff Robertson was initially set to star in The Mechanic, which was purchased by producer Martin Poll in mid-1968. Poll is not mentioned in later sources and the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. A April 3, 1969 Daily Variety news item stated that Martin Ritt would direct the film, which at that time was to begin shooting in New York in May or June 1969. A Hollywood Reporter column on August 1, 1967 reported that "Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster have already phoned [original screenplay writer Lewis John] Carlino asking when they could read it."
       The film was shot on location throughout Los Angeles, as well as in Naples and along the Amalfi coast in Italy. Locations within Los Angeles included downtown, the Sunset Strip, the Hollywood Hills, The Los Angeles Zoo and the Marineland aquatic park in Palos Verdes. The painting which Arthur Bishop studies intently is a copy of the center panel of the fifteenth century Hieronymus Bosch triptych "The Garden of Earthly Delights."
       One sequence in the film, which is unrelated to the main story, involves Arthur's visit to "The girl" (Jill Ireland). In the first scene, the girl seems to be passionately and unhappily in love with Arthur, for whom she pines when he is away. In the next scene, it is revealed that she actually is a prostitute and the previous scene had been a pre-arranged fantasy. Ireland, who married Bronson in the late 1960s, appeared in many of his films until her death in 1990.
       The Mechanic was the first film that Bronson shot primarily in the U.S. since This Property Is Condemned (1966, see below), in which he was a supporting player. From the mid to late 1960s, Bronson acted in a few episodes of American television series, but began to gain prominence as the star of numerous European-made Western and action films. By 1971, Bronson had become one of the biggest stars in Europe, and his popularity in the U.S. was ascending. In January 1972, while The Mechanic was in production, Bronson received the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Henrietta Award as "World Film Favorite" star of the year. Some modern critics have pointed to the The Mechanic as a turning point in Bronson's career, solidifying his position as a major star in the U.S. as well as abroad, and catapulting him to a position among the top ten box office stars in the world throughout the mid to late 1970s.
       Michael Winner had directed Bronson in Chato's Land, released earlier in 1972, and went on to direct him in four additional films, including Death Wish (1974), one of the most successful films of their respective careers.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States 1972