Mr. Majestyk (1974)

PG | 103-104 mins | Drama | 1974

Full page view
HISTORY

A 24 May 1972 DV news item announced that film rights to writer Elmore Leonard’s original story, Mr. Majestic , were purchased by producer Walter Mirisch and production was set to begin in late 1972. DV noted that Leonard was slated to write the script and United Artists had already agreed to distribute the film. According to 21 Sep 1973 HR production charts, principal photography began 18 Sep 1973 in Cañon City and La Junta, CO. While a 27 Aug 1973 Box news item spelled the working title of the film Mr. Majestic , a 7 Sep 1973 HR brief referred to the film as Mr. Majestyck and on 24 Sep 1973, Box used the title Mr. Majestyk . HR stated that the production was scheduled for a seven-week shoot, starting in La Junta and then moving to Cañon City, (incorrectly spelled “Canyon City”), in the last week.
       A LAT article on 2 Dec 1973 reported that the film was shot in CO because Charles Bronson was not available to start until Sep 1973, and the melon-growing season in CA was over by that time. When the filmmakers offered a farmer with an 160-acre “Rocky Ford” melon ranch near Manzanola, CO, $3,500 for the rental of his property, the farmer insisted on $10,000 because the film had been publicized in the La Junta Tribune-Democrat as a multi-million dollar venture. As noted in the article, Mirisch worked with director Richard Fleischer previously on the Lee Marvin film The ... More Less

A 24 May 1972 DV news item announced that film rights to writer Elmore Leonard’s original story, Mr. Majestic , were purchased by producer Walter Mirisch and production was set to begin in late 1972. DV noted that Leonard was slated to write the script and United Artists had already agreed to distribute the film. According to 21 Sep 1973 HR production charts, principal photography began 18 Sep 1973 in Cañon City and La Junta, CO. While a 27 Aug 1973 Box news item spelled the working title of the film Mr. Majestic , a 7 Sep 1973 HR brief referred to the film as Mr. Majestyck and on 24 Sep 1973, Box used the title Mr. Majestyk . HR stated that the production was scheduled for a seven-week shoot, starting in La Junta and then moving to Cañon City, (incorrectly spelled “Canyon City”), in the last week.
       A LAT article on 2 Dec 1973 reported that the film was shot in CO because Charles Bronson was not available to start until Sep 1973, and the melon-growing season in CA was over by that time. When the filmmakers offered a farmer with an 160-acre “Rocky Ford” melon ranch near Manzanola, CO, $3,500 for the rental of his property, the farmer insisted on $10,000 because the film had been publicized in the La Junta Tribune-Democrat as a multi-million dollar venture. As noted in the article, Mirisch worked with director Richard Fleischer previously on the Lee Marvin film The Spikes Gang (1974, see entry), which they referred to by its working title, Harry Spikes . The Spikes Gang was released only two months before Mr. Majestyk .
       Although contemporary sources, including a 17 Jul 1974 LAT review, drew parallels between the film’s narrative and the real-life tribulations of migrant worker organizer Cesar Chavez, Fleischer told LAT in a 2 Dec 1973 article that “’the controversy about Chavez is just alluded to… it is really a story about two men.’” Other reviews criticized the film for side-stepping its underlying political themes, such as NYT , which stated on 18 Jul 1974 that “the picture might have amounted to more, originally, with sharper use of its migrant-worker background, instead of sloping off to the usual showdown.” On 29 May 1974, Var commented: “Social relevance is soon clobbered by the usual Charles Bronson heroics.”
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Aug 1973.
---
Box Office
24 Sep 1973.
---
Box Office
3 Jun 1974
p. 4693.
Daily Variety
24 May 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1973
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Nov 1973
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 1974
p. 3.
LAHExam
22 Jul 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1973
p. 28.
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1974
Section IV, p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Mar 1974
p. 86.
New York Times
18 Jul 1974
p. 32.
Time
2 Sep 1974
p. 14.
Variety
29 May 1974
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Walter Mirisch Richard Fleischer Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Stunt gaffer
Filmed with
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Men's cost
Ladies' cost
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Asst to the prod
DETAILS
Release Date:
1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 July 1974
Production Date:
18 September--mid November 1973 in Colorado
Copyright Claimant:
The Mirisch Corporation of California
Copyright Date:
26 March 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43633
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Color by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
103-104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

As a group of migrant workers are selected for day labor in Edna, Colorado, melon farmer Vince Majestyk offers to pay $1.40 an hour but threatens to refuse compensation if the men are unproductive. At a gas station, Majestyk protests when a pretty Latina, Nancy Chavez, and her companions are prohibited from using the restroom because they are migrant workers. After offering jobs to the laborers, Majestyk makes sure they have access to the gas station’s facilities. On the way to his 160-acre farm, Majestyk learns that Nancy is a union organizer with ties to National Farm Workers Association leader Cesar Chavez, who, she says, is not a relative. As they drive through Majestyk’s fields, the farmer admits that his future is contingent on the crops. Pulling up to the farm, Majestyk discovers that Bobby Kopas, a young cowboy, has staffed his fields without his permission. Although Kopas offers labor at a reduced rate, Majestyk refers to his men as “winos” and orders them to leave, but Kopas accuses the farmer of reverse discrimination because he only hires “Latins.” When Kopas wields a shotgun, Majestyk grabs the weapon and knocks him to the ground. As Kopas’s men retreat, Majestyk returns the gun and warns Kopas that he’s “in the wrong business.” Later, as Majestyk harvests watermelons, he is arrested for assault. At the police station, Lt. McAllen learns that Majestyk served nine months at Folsom Prison in California for the same offense. Concerned that his melons will rot, Majestyk asks for a two-day postponement of his conviction, but McAllen refuses. As Majestyk is transferred to prison, the bus ... +


As a group of migrant workers are selected for day labor in Edna, Colorado, melon farmer Vince Majestyk offers to pay $1.40 an hour but threatens to refuse compensation if the men are unproductive. At a gas station, Majestyk protests when a pretty Latina, Nancy Chavez, and her companions are prohibited from using the restroom because they are migrant workers. After offering jobs to the laborers, Majestyk makes sure they have access to the gas station’s facilities. On the way to his 160-acre farm, Majestyk learns that Nancy is a union organizer with ties to National Farm Workers Association leader Cesar Chavez, who, she says, is not a relative. As they drive through Majestyk’s fields, the farmer admits that his future is contingent on the crops. Pulling up to the farm, Majestyk discovers that Bobby Kopas, a young cowboy, has staffed his fields without his permission. Although Kopas offers labor at a reduced rate, Majestyk refers to his men as “winos” and orders them to leave, but Kopas accuses the farmer of reverse discrimination because he only hires “Latins.” When Kopas wields a shotgun, Majestyk grabs the weapon and knocks him to the ground. As Kopas’s men retreat, Majestyk returns the gun and warns Kopas that he’s “in the wrong business.” Later, as Majestyk harvests watermelons, he is arrested for assault. At the police station, Lt. McAllen learns that Majestyk served nine months at Folsom Prison in California for the same offense. Concerned that his melons will rot, Majestyk asks for a two-day postponement of his conviction, but McAllen refuses. As Majestyk is transferred to prison, the bus and its police escorts are ambushed by henchmen working for gangster Frank Renda, who is Majestyk’s fellow inmate. Stealing handcuff keys from an injured policeman, Majestyk orders the convicts to take the officer away and drives off with Renda. Holding Renda hostage in a remote hunting lodge, Majestyk agrees to the gangster’s promise of $25,000 ransom and heads to a country store to call the gangster’s girlfriend, Wiley, for the money. However, after convincing the shopkeeper to give him beer and two phone calls on loan, Majestyk first calls McAllen and offers to exchange Renda for immunity. Sometime later, Wiley meets the men and reports that she paid the shopkeeper $3.85 as instructed. Outraged by Majestyk’s plan to turn him in, Renda threatens to kill the farmer and Wiley slides a gun from her purse. As they veer off the road, Renda fires at Majestyk, but he escapes to the police station, where he is apprehended by McAllen. Meanwhile, Renda plots his revenge. Since Renda cannot get to Majestyk in jail, the gangster orders his henchman, Gene Lundy, to find Kopas and force him to drop the farmer’s charges. Back at the police station, McAllen tells Majestyk that he is free to go, but when he warns Majestyk that Renda will be hunting him, the farmer concludes that he is being used as bait. Returning to his farm, Majestyk learns from his assistant, Larry Mendoza, that the migrant crew dissipated with the exception of Nancy, who has recruited other friends to join her in the fields. In town, a crew organizer named Julio tells Majestyk that he cannot provide workers because he was threatened with violence and Kopas mockingly offers Majestyk his “winos.” When Kopas warns Majestyk that he is a marked man, Majestyk realizes the cowboy has joined forces with Renda. Later, Kopas meets Renda and Wiley at their private airplane and shows them to Majestyk’s farm. Observing Nancy’s friends at work, Renda is displeased by Kopas’s failure to keep the fields unmanned and, after noticing undercover policemen guarding the premises, Renda kicks Kopas out of the car. At a lodge, Renda is greeted by his lawyer, who reports that Renda’s charges will be dropped pending a court examination. Meanwhile, Majestyk completes his harvest and takes Nancy for a beer to celebrate. As one of the undercover officers trails them, Renda and Lundy kill the other policeman and break into Majestyk’s house. Finding it empty, Renda, Lundy and several henchmen attack Larry Mendoza and threaten his son. Before leaving, Renda’s men fire Majestyk’s workers and destroy his watermelon harvest with machine guns. At a bar, Majestyk tells Nancy that he has been separated from his wife and seven year-old daughter for several years and they decide to go home to make love. As Nancy excuses herself for the restroom, Majestyk is confronted by Renda, who vows to kill him when he is not being watched by police officers. After punching the gangster, Majestyk returns to the farm with Nancy and they discover the crop ruined. The next morning, as Nancy and Majestyk load Mendoza’s truck with the few surviving melons, Majestyk tells her to leave because Renda will come back for him. Telling Majestyk about her past brushes with violence, Nancy says she is not afraid, but Majestyk is resolute about their separation and she leaves the farm with Mendoza. As Mendoza delivers the melons, he is confronted by Kopas and Lundy, who break his legs with their car. When Majestyk visits his friend in the hospital, Mendoza begs him to leave town and, outside the room, McAllen threatens to withdraw police protection. Undeterred, Majestyk returns home to find Kopas, Lundy and Renda’s henchmen staking out the house and when he sneaks inside, Nancy greets him. In the morning, Renda shows up at Majestyk’s farm and orders Kopas to break into the house. Meanwhile, Majestyk tells Nancy to leave him, but as she speeds away in his truck, Majestyk jumps into the back and Renda and his men give chase. Back at the police station, McAllen gets word of the pursuit and orders officers to the scene. When Nancy detours off the main road, Majestyk takes the driver’s seat and forces a car with Renda’s men off the road, where it explodes. Elsewhere, Renda, Kopas and Lundy lose track of Majestyk in the rugged terrain and although they are detected by the police, they escape to Renda’s lodge. There, Majestyk fires through the window and Renda sends Wiley outside as a decoy. Although Majestyk gives her a message for Renda, he learns that Lundy and Kopas are also in the lodge and orders Nancy to take Wiley to safety. After stealing keys from Renda’s car, Majestyk sneaks toward the lodge with his shotgun. Renda orders Lundy to chase after the farmer, but when Majestyk shoots him dead, Kopas turns on the gangster, accusing him of setting up his henchman. Although Renda forces Kopas outside and into Majestyk’s line of fire, Majestyk spares the cowboy’s life after he reveals Renda’s location. Jumping through the window, Majestyk kills Renda. As Kopas tries to get away in the car, Majestyk shows him he has the keys and Kopas is arrested, along with Wiley. Pleased to find Renda dead, McAllen orders Majestyk to meet him back in town. Rejoining Nancy in his truck, Majestyk drives away through the countryside. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.