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The Man Behind Death Wish: Brian Garfield

Death_wish_four_poster_2Charles Bronson might have kept the Death Wish franchise going but it was Brian Garfield who started it in the first place when he wrote the novel on which it’s based.  We know what happened to Bronson; he went on to play increasingly violent roles in more vengeance-filled movies.  But what happened to Garfield? Did his career follow the same trajectory?

Like Bronson, the author had achieved a certain level of success before the film in 1974.  His book The Thousand Mile War was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1969.  Unlike Bronson though, he was more willing (and perhaps more able) to leave Death Wish behind.  In an interview with Novel Journey in January of 2007 he admitted: “One does get stuck with a reputation. Sometimes one may deserve it. All one can do is keep working and ignore the idiots.” 

His first film after Death Wish was the (revenge) Western The Last Hard Man , starring tough guys Charlton Heston and James Coburn. Then in 1980, his Walter Matthau comedy Hopscotch (for which he’s most proud) came out and clearly established that he had moved on.  By 1983, his next movie project Legs was about as far from Death Wish as you could get. (It was about the Rockettes.)

Eventually, the author came full circle with Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon. Ian Jeffers’ script for that one was based on Garfield’s book of the same name.  Garfield says he wrote the novel "as a sort of penance for the movie version of Death Wish" adding that it "attempts to demonstrate in dramatic form that vigilantism is not a solution."  If you watch Death Wish IV tonight, you’ll see the franchise went in a different direction. 

For more information on Garfield, check out his website.

For more violent, vigilante action watch Death Wish IV: The Crackdown tonight Thursday, January 17 at  8 p.m. | 7C.

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