The Mechanic (1972)

PG | 93, 95 or 100 mins | Drama | November 1972

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HISTORY

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 DV and HR 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 3 Apr 1969 DV news item stated that Martin Ritt would direct the film, which at that time was to begin shooting in New York in May or Jun 1969. A HR column on 1 Aug 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 ... More Less

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 DV and HR 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 3 Apr 1969 DV news item stated that Martin Ritt would direct the film, which at that time was to begin shooting in New York in May or Jun 1969. A HR column on 1 Aug 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 Jan 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 (see above), and went on to direct him in four additional films, including Death Wish (1974), one of the most successful films of their respective careers. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Nov 1972
p. 4543.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1969.
---
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1969.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 553-55.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1967.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1969.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1971
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1972
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 1972
p. 4, 14.
Los Angeles Times
22 Nov 1972
Section IV, p. 12.
New York
4 Dec 1972
p. 82.
New York Times
18 Nov 1972
p. 44.
Variety
1 Nov 1972
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Chartoff-Winkler/Carlino Production
A Chartoff-Winkler/Carlino Production; A Michael Winner FIlm
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir, for European seq
Asst dir
Asst dir, for European seq
Asst dir, for European seq
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, for European seq
Cam op
Cam op, for European seq
Key grip
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir, for European seq
FILM EDITOR
Supv ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop master, for European seq
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Dial ed
Sd mixer
Dubbing ed
Re-recordist, for European seq
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Motorcycles furnished by
Transportation
Secy to the prod
Casting
Prod mgr, for European seq
Prod mgr, for European seq
Cont, for European seq
Asst to dir, for European seq
STAND INS
Stunt coord
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1972
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 November 1972
Los Angeles opening: 22 November 1972
Production Date:
early December 1971--late January 1972 in Los Angeles and Italy
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
8 November 1972
Copyright Number:
LP41342
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
93, 95 or 100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
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 ... +


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. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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