Death Wish II (1982)

R | 88 mins | Drama | 19 February 1982

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HISTORY

       On 20 Aug 1980, HR announced that The Cannon Group had secured the rights to produce a sequel to Death Wish (1974, see entry), titled Death Wish II or Death Sentence, to be written by Brian Garfield, author of the original 1972 Death Wish novel. However, the 7 Oct 1980 HR stated that David Engelbach would instead write the screenplay for the estimated $6 million production. In a 1 May 1981 HR article, director Michael Winner clarified that producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were unsatisfied with Garfield’s 1974 sequel to his novel, so they purchased the rights to Garfield’s characters, which would allow them to create their own story. However, the 1 Apr 1981 Var stated that Cannon obtained the property from Dino De Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures, who released the first Death Wish motion picture. Although Death Wish concludes with “Paul Kersey” escaping New York City to Chicago, IL, the 1 May 1981 HR stated that Winner chose to set the sequel in Los Angeles, CA, to achieve “a much different look from New York.”
       A 22 Oct 1980 Var news brief claimed that Natalie Wood would star, and that Menahem Golan originally planned to direct, beginning principal photography mid-Jan 1981 in San Francisco, CA. However, Wood does not appear in the film, and Golan fulfilled the role of producer when Michael Winner joined the project as director. A 5 May 1981 LAT article claimed that Bronson was signed to reprise his role as Paul Kersey for a $1.5 ... More Less

       On 20 Aug 1980, HR announced that The Cannon Group had secured the rights to produce a sequel to Death Wish (1974, see entry), titled Death Wish II or Death Sentence, to be written by Brian Garfield, author of the original 1972 Death Wish novel. However, the 7 Oct 1980 HR stated that David Engelbach would instead write the screenplay for the estimated $6 million production. In a 1 May 1981 HR article, director Michael Winner clarified that producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were unsatisfied with Garfield’s 1974 sequel to his novel, so they purchased the rights to Garfield’s characters, which would allow them to create their own story. However, the 1 Apr 1981 Var stated that Cannon obtained the property from Dino De Laurentiis and Paramount Pictures, who released the first Death Wish motion picture. Although Death Wish concludes with “Paul Kersey” escaping New York City to Chicago, IL, the 1 May 1981 HR stated that Winner chose to set the sequel in Los Angeles, CA, to achieve “a much different look from New York.”
       A 22 Oct 1980 Var news brief claimed that Natalie Wood would star, and that Menahem Golan originally planned to direct, beginning principal photography mid-Jan 1981 in San Francisco, CA. However, Wood does not appear in the film, and Golan fulfilled the role of producer when Michael Winner joined the project as director. A 5 May 1981 LAT article claimed that Bronson was signed to reprise his role as Paul Kersey for a $1.5 million salary, while Robin Sherwood was cast as “Carol Kersey” after Winner auditioned “more than a hundred” actresses. Death Wish II marked the fifth collaboration between Bronson and Winner.
       Various contemporary sources confirmed that principal photography began 4 May 1981 in Los Angeles, CA, but a 5 May 1981 HR article reported that Winner filmed various shots on the streets of downtown Los Angeles prior to the official start date. The schedule to film the eighty-seven-page script was expected to last eight weeks, extending between the hours of midnight and 4:00 AM on 1 Jul 1980, the start date of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike. An 18 Jun 1981 DV report claimed that Bronson ignored the eight-hour day limitations in his contract, working ten to twelve hours “to help complete the pic in time.” The 8 Jul 1981 Var news item stated that Winner exploded a Cadillac automobile over the edge of a cliff in San Pedro, CA, on the final day of filming, although the scene does not appear onscreen. Days later, a 13 Jul 1981 DV advertisement announced that Death Wish II had entered post production.
       Before the picture was completed, however, the 18 Jun 1981 DV reported that The Cannon Group’s American-European Productions, Inc. negotiated a cable television deal with HBO that, when combined with international sales rights, recouped the full production costs. The article suggested possible development of Death Wish III due to the sequel’s positive financial returns; however, such plans did not immediately move forward. A 4 Oct 1980 HR advertisement indicated that the film would have its world premiere at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival.
       The 19 Mar 1982 LAT stated that distribution company Filmways Pictures had been overtaken by Orion Pictures two weeks after the 19 Feb 1982 release of Death Wish II, but that the film had already grossed nearly $8 million. A report in the 17 Mar 1982 LAHExam claimed that despite the ultimate success of Death Wish II, Filmways had nearly decided not to release the picture.
       Contrary to the 5 May 1981 HR report that stated that the film was expected to have a ninety-eight-minute runtime, the final theatrical version viewed for this record was eighty-eight minutes in length.
      Actor Kevyn Major-Howard has his surname spelled with a hyphen in the opening credits, but without it as "Kevyn Major Howard" in the end credits.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1981.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jul 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 May 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1982
p. 3, 10.
LAHExam
17 Mar 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 May 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
23 Feb 1982
p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
19 Mar 1982.
---
New York Times
20 Feb 1982
p. 13.
Variety
22 Oct 1980.
---
Variety
1 Apr 1981.
---
Variety
8 Jul 1981.
---
Variety
17 Feb 1982
p. 20.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-starring:
Kevyn Major-Howard
The muggers
Steffen Zacharias
Diners:
[and]
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus present
A Golan-Globus/Landers-Roberts Production
for City Films
a Michael Winner film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Key grip
Prod processing by
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Key costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp and played by
Mus ed
Mus arr and cond
Orig mus pub by
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Sd ed
Sd ed
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod assoc
Casting
Casting
Transportation capt
Transporatation coord
Prod accountant
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Brian Garfield.
DETAILS
Series:
Alternate Title:
Death Sentence
Release Date:
19 February 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 19 February 1982
Production Date:
4 May--July 1981
Copyright Claimant:
American-European Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 December 1981
Copyright Number:
PA130746
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Cameras by Arriflex
Duration(in mins):
88
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26483
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In his Los Angeles, California, home, architect Paul Kersey listens to a KABC radio broadcast reporting the city’s escalating crime rate. He says goodbye to his maid, Rosario, before picking up his girl friend, radio host Geri Nichols, to visit his daughter, Carol, in a mental rehabilitation center. Carol does not speak, causing Paul to worry about her condition. At an outdoor market, a member of a street gang steals Paul’s wallet, and Paul, although chasing the robber into an alley, cannot catch the thief. Later, Geri leaves to conduct an interview for her program, and Paul and Carol go sailing with a friend. Meanwhile, the gang members use Paul’s identification to find his address, break into his house, and take turns raping Rosario. When Paul and Carol return home, the men knock Paul unconscious, kill Rosario, and kidnap Carol, driving away in their van. In an abandoned warehouse, the kidnappers discuss whether or not Paul will be able to identify them. One of the men undresses Carol; she lies motionless as he rapes her and the others watch. When he finishes, she jumps through the nearest glass window, but her body is impaled on a metal fence below. Later, Paul revives and calls the police, telling them that he is unable to fully describe the attackers. Police Lt. Mankiewicz says that he heard a similar crime had occurred in New York, prompting Paul to explain that a group of muggers once attacked his wife and daughter. Mankiewicz procures a small glass cat figurine that was found on the floor. Once the police find Carol’s body, Paul attends her funeral, and retreats to a friend’s mountain cabin. When he ... +


In his Los Angeles, California, home, architect Paul Kersey listens to a KABC radio broadcast reporting the city’s escalating crime rate. He says goodbye to his maid, Rosario, before picking up his girl friend, radio host Geri Nichols, to visit his daughter, Carol, in a mental rehabilitation center. Carol does not speak, causing Paul to worry about her condition. At an outdoor market, a member of a street gang steals Paul’s wallet, and Paul, although chasing the robber into an alley, cannot catch the thief. Later, Geri leaves to conduct an interview for her program, and Paul and Carol go sailing with a friend. Meanwhile, the gang members use Paul’s identification to find his address, break into his house, and take turns raping Rosario. When Paul and Carol return home, the men knock Paul unconscious, kill Rosario, and kidnap Carol, driving away in their van. In an abandoned warehouse, the kidnappers discuss whether or not Paul will be able to identify them. One of the men undresses Carol; she lies motionless as he rapes her and the others watch. When he finishes, she jumps through the nearest glass window, but her body is impaled on a metal fence below. Later, Paul revives and calls the police, telling them that he is unable to fully describe the attackers. Police Lt. Mankiewicz says that he heard a similar crime had occurred in New York, prompting Paul to explain that a group of muggers once attacked his wife and daughter. Mankiewicz procures a small glass cat figurine that was found on the floor. Once the police find Carol’s body, Paul attends her funeral, and retreats to a friend’s mountain cabin. When he returns, Paul meets with Elliott Cass, owner of KABC radio, to brief him on the costs of a building that Cass has commissioned Paul. A police detective finds Paul and asks him to come to the station to look at suspect photos, but Paul refuses. That night, Paul takes his gun, purchases new clothes and a knit cap at a thrift store, and rents a room in a run-down Hollywood hotel under the name of “Kimball.” In his home the next morning, Geri stops by to pick up some of her clothes. When she leaves, Paul telephones a locksmith. He returns to the streets after dark, and follows four men into a vacant building, where they snort cocaine. Paul shoots one of the men, but two run away. He recognizes the remaining man as one of Carol’s kidnappers, and kills him. Paul goes home, and receives a telephone call from Geri, who offers to cook him dinner on Friday night. In the evening, Paul hears screaming from an underground parking garage and watches as a group of men, including another kidnapper, pull a woman away from her husband and into their van. Paul kills all the men except Carol’s kidnapper, who escapes with a leg wound. Following a trail of blood into an empty warehouse, Paul recognizes the man as the same thief who stole his wallet, and shoots him in the face. The police arrive at the parking garage and question the attacked couple, who insist that their rescuer had been acting heroically, and provide false descriptions. Believing they are dealing with a vigilante, the police get in touch with New York City detectives to ask them how they handled a similar case five years earlier. The New York district attorney Frank Ochoa realizes that Paul Kersey must be the vigilante, and agrees to travel to Los Angeles to avoid the ridicule of not having caught Paul while he was at large in New York. Once in Los Angeles, Frank breaks into Geri’s apartment and tells her that he suspects Paul of killing nine people in New York City four years earlier, asking her to help him find information. Later, Geri confronts Paul about Frank’s accusation, but Paul lies and reaffirms his devotion to their relationship. The next morning, Frank gives her a copy of his new key. Frank asks Mike to park Frank’s car outside of Paul’s house that night. Seeing the car and believing Frank is watching, Paul sneaks out of the house and rides a bus across town, but Frank follows in a taxi. Paul pursues three of the killers into a park and shoots at them. After telling his taxi driver to wait, Frank joins in the shootout, but gets hit with a bullet in the chest. Before he dies, Frank tells Paul to find and kill the remaining criminal who managed to escape. Seconds later, the police arrive, and one of the injured muggers tells them that “Nirvana” got away. The next day, one of the radio reporters investigating the shootout agrees to give Paul an extra police radio. Paul listens to the police channel reports and drives to the apartment building where officers have sighted Nirvana. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Mankiewicz sits nearby in a disguised van and receives a radio message that an unidentified man jumped onto the roof. Paul enters the building from the upper stairway and forces Nirvana outside. The police shoot Nirvana in the chest, but the criminal retaliates before being dragged away. Paul wraps a large bloody gash on his forearm before returning home. Geri arrives moments later and shows him a newspaper headline about Frank’s death, as Paul’s arm drips with blood. A judge sentences Nirvana to time in a psychiatric hospital, citing that the man was under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs when he killed Frank Ochoa. Paul visits the hospital, steals a psychologist’s badge, whites out the name, and creates a counterfeit badge for himself. During a fancy luncheon, Paul asks Geri to marry him, and explains that they will get married in Acapulco, Mexico, the following week. On Wednesday evening, Paul wears his badge and a doctor’s coat and convinces an orderly to let him into the psychiatric ward. Paul takes Nirvana into a therapy room and throws him against the electroshock machine, killing him. When the orderly sees what happened, he gives Paul a three-minute head start before ringing the alarm. Paul races home to meet Geri, but she has already entered his apartment. As she listens to a radio broadcast about Nirvana’s recent death, she discovers discarded copies of Paul’s forged hospital badge, and realizes that Paul is the murderer. She removes her engagement ring and leaves the apartment. Upon the completion of the new KABC building, Elliott Cass commiserates with Paul about Geri, but asks why Paul does not answer his telephone at night. Although Paul promises to attend a party, claiming that he has nothing better to do, he returns to the streets, casting a looming shadow over Los Angeles’ grungy buildings. +

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

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