A few years ago, Schlockmania reviewed Bronson’s Loose, an excel­lent his­to­ry of the Death Wish film series penned by Paul Talbot. It quick­ly became a favorite with the cult/exploitation movie crowd and Talbot con­tin­ued to build his rep­u­ta­tion in the­se cir­cles with a vari­ety of mag­a­zine pieces and Mondo Mandingo, his amaz­ing tome on the infa­mous Mandingo nov­el series and the films its inspired. Talbot has come full cir­cle with Bronson’s Loose Again, which trav­els deep­er into the Bronson fil­mog­ra­phy to cre­ate a fas­ci­nat­ing trav­el­ogue through the final two decades of this still-under­rat­ed star’s career.

BronLA-bookBronson’s Loose Again is not a biog­ra­phy nor is it a study of Bronson’s film career in full. Instead, Talbot con­cen­trates on Bronson’s post-Death Wish peri­od, bypass­ing the Death Wish sequels he cov­ered in the pri­or book and any oth­er titles that have been exten­sive­ly cov­ered in oth­er relat­ed bio­graph­i­cal tomes (hence, no chap­ters on films like Mr. Majestyk or Telefon).

What he cov­ers is like­ly to delight the action hero’s fans as it pro­vides exten­sive infor­ma­tion on his tenure with Cannon Films, the peri­od that made him an exploita­tion film icon, as well as plen­ty of info on the expen­sive pro­duc­tions he made for ITC Entertainment and the oft-over­looked t.v. films he made in his final years. Death Wish fans will be hap­py to know he also includes some bonus inter­views with peo­ple who worked on that series of films that bring out new angles on those endur­ing favorites.

The result is a trea­sure of cult movie schol­ar­ship. Talbot mix­es a blend of skill­ful­ly researched info from pri­or books, news­pa­pers and mag­a­zine arti­cles with 39 new inter­views con­duct­ed by the author him­self for this book. As a result, you get a nice blend of vin­tage info you’d expect from a book like this with a lot of brand-new details as well as per­son­al­ized per­spec­tives that add fresh con­text to the famil­iar facts. Each chap­ter offers a com­plete por­trait of a film from con­cep­tion to fin­ished pro­duct, along with details on unmade projects that popped up between the films Bronson made and snip­pets of the oft-with­er­ing reviews that the films received.

BronLA-10ToThe chap­ters on the Cannon years alone make Bronson’s Loose Again worth­while for any­one into ‘80s action and exploita­tion. For exam­ple, there’s an amaz­ing chap­ter on 10 To Midnight in which Lance Hool reveals how the project was put togeth­er, Gene Davis gives insight into the inspi­ra­tions for his per­for­mance as the psy­cho-killer vil­lain and the read­er gets to check out unshot sce­nes from the film in script form. Elsewhere, you’ll learn about the orig­in of the col­or­ful, non­sen­si­cal insults used by Kathleen Wilhoite’s char­ac­ter in Murphy’s Law and actor Robert Lyons, who appeared in three of Bronson’s Cannon-era films, reveal­ing what ear­ly Bronson hit he almost played the co-lead in.

Talbot also does a fine job of shin­ing light on the lesser-known films that Bronson did dur­ing this time. For exam­ple, there’s an excel­lent chap­ter on From Noon Till Three, a blend of satire, romance and west­ern that was one of Bronson’s favorite projects. This chap­ter ben­e­fits from a thor­ough inter­view with the film’s writer/director, Frank D. Gilroy. It also reminds the read­er how Bronson aspired to be more than just an action hero as well as how stu­dios and crit­ics alike did their best to keep shov­ing him back into that cat­e­go­ry. Along sim­i­lar lines, a chap­ter on the ille­gal immi­gra­tion dra­ma Borderline makes a nice case for one of Bronson’s most over­looked films. Of equal inter­est are a few chap­ters that reveal how a deal with English film mogul Sir Lew Grade led to cost­ly but mud­dled items like Love And Bullets and Cabo Blanco.

BronLA-etmdDeath Wish fanat­ics will appre­ci­ate the new inter­view relat­ed to those films, which yield new infor­ma­tion on a sub­ject that fans might have though they already know inside-out. For instance, David Engelbach reveals how he reluc­tant­ly became the screen­writer for Death Wish II and actress Silvana Gallardo speaks frankly about how shoot­ing the infa­mous rape scene in Death Wish II was not only tough for her but for every­one else involved (telling­ly, the first cin­e­matog­ra­pher and his crew quit in protest over direc­tor Michael Winner’s vicious approach to this scene). Also, Death Wish III fans will appre­ci­ate get­ting a chance to hear from that film’s “Giggler,” Kirk Johnson, reveal the seri­ous work involved in cre­at­ing this kitschy high­light of the Death Wish sequels.

Along the way, Bronson’s Loose Again gives the read­er an up-close por­trait of the enig­mat­ic star. Though it is not designed as a biog­ra­phy, the mix­ture of old and new inter­views cre­ate a com­plex por­trait of a tal­ent­ed, intel­li­gent actor who could be dif­fi­cult or aloof but had an equal capac­i­ty for loy­al­ty and kind­ness with those he took into his trust. You also get a nice feel for his rela­tion­ship with wife and fre­quent co-star Jill Ireland, who often smoothed out his rough edges and was an equal part­ner in his career. Talbot gen­tly lay­ers the­se bio­graph­i­cal threads through­out the book and it adds a sub­tle but notice­able depth to its cov­er­age of Bronson’s career.

Someone could pro­duce a review with the twice the word count on this book — this review hasn’t even touched on the excel­lent, exten­sive chap­ters on Schlockmania favorites like Hard Times, The Evil That Men Do and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects — but for the sake of brevi­ty, this review will leave those high­lights for the review to dis­cov­er on their own. The only thing left to say is that Bronson’s Loose Again is a neces­si­ty for any­one with an inter­est in Charles Bronson’s career — and it’ll leave you hop­ing that Talbot will revis­it the star’s work once more for a book that could cov­er the films omit­ted here.