Although Charles Bronson has appeared in a fistful of genuine classic movies (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, Once Upon A Time in the West, and The Dirty Dozen) it is this urban crime/revenge thriller that is most often associated with him. Paul Kersey is a New York based 'bleeding heart liberal' architect that has his life destroyed when a trio of thugs (one played by future star Jeff Goldblum) assault his wife and daughter. His wife dies and his daughter slowly sinks into a catatonic state. Kersey's rage grows and, after acquiring a pistol during a business trip to Arizona, he begins killing muggers while wading through the crime choked streets of New York. Director Michael Winner handles the material in as blunt a fashion as possible, presenting Kersey as a heroic Everyman doing what anyone would want to do under similar circumstances. Yet it is all salvaged by a wonderfully nuanced performance by Charles Bronson. At the time of its release, critics complained that the blue collar looking actor was terribly miscast as an upper class white collar victim turned victimizer. Yet the actor handles it well, by the film's end he has become the character and was thus permanantly type cast in the public's mind as the vigilante that cleaned up New York (although he would not play the actual role again until a series of lurid sequels made almost ten years later). While Death Wish is an essential for Charles Bronson fans (I cannot think of one who wouldn't want to have a copy), the actual subject matter was better handled in the Clint Eastwood thriller Dirty Harry (1971) and its 1973 vigilante themed sequel, Magnum Force.