The film itself is pretty damn good and I'll get to that in a bit, but look at that poster. I was expecting a sophisticated, debonair Bronson to be sipping scotch and smoking a pipe throughout the movie. Sure, he's certainly a suave gentleman and he downs the occasional whisky and soda, but I didn't see one pipe in the whole damn movie! That's just false advertising.
Luckily back in the early 1970s the Japanese got a hold of Bronson for a series of commercials for Mandom grooming products, which include a pipe smoking Bronson and a certain Japanese aesthetic.
Anyway, back to the film. Raymond St. Ives (Bronson) is a former crime reporter with a sordid past and a love for gambling. And when he's not losing his money on football games or working on his failing novel, he does favors for wealthy, disreputable types. An affluent and aging crime boss (John Houseman) had some personal diaries stolen and hires St. Ives to act the bagman and deliver $100,000 to the thieves in exchange for these personal ledgers. Things don't go as planned. When St. Ives arrives at the meeting place, a laundromat, he finds his contact dead and spinning in one of the dryers. St. Ives is drawn into the mystery. Well, first he's arrested on suspicion of murder, released and then drawn into the mystery of the stolen diaries. He takes on the challenge of tracking down these missing books and solving the series of murders surrounding them.
|"...And that was the second time I got crabs."|
This movie has the feel of an old 1930s crime drama plopped down in the 1970s. I was expecting more of a pipe smoking Harry Callahan character but Bronson gives us something different - a more contained and intellectual smart-ass. For me it works. I found it to be a pleasant change from his typical assassin/vigilante characters. The unraveling of the mystery and the sarcastic coolness of Bronson are the reasons to watch St. Ives. If you're looking for nonstop vigilante action, you should look elsewhere.
Violence Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Booby Rating: 1 out of 5