Check out these melons
One of my favourite authors is Elmore Leonard. The film adaptations from his work are not always a home run but he wrote Mr. Majestyk as a screenplay, then novelized it later. I believe it was the first and only time he worked that way.
And what are the results? Well, as a book… it is pretty darn good. As a film, Charles Bronson’s acting is a little shaky at times but it’s pretty darn good.
Bronson plays Vince Majestyk, an ex-con and current-day melon farmer. When the local hood, Bobby Kopas attempts to force Majestyk into hiring unskilled drunks to harvest his crop instead of migrant workers, Majestyk ends up in jail after assaulting him with the non-lethal end of a shotgun.
Majestyk ends up on a prison transport bus with Frank Renda, (played by The Godfather‘s Al Lettieri), a hitman who is being sent to a higher-security prison. Renda’s men use the weaker security on the bus as an opportunity to break him out of police custody, but the attempt is quickly botched and in the confusion Majestyk drives off with Renda.
Majestyk makes a deal with the police to trade Renda for time to finish harvesting his melons, which angers Renda who had offered him $25,000 for his freedom. Renda ends up slipping away from Majestyk before he can be turned over to the police and now seeks his revenge on the melon farmer.
Leonard apparently had Clint Eastwood in mind for Majestyk but Bronson’s “It is what it is” and “I just want to get back to work” style works really well. The movie has a couple of cheeseball moments but remains well above the “dumb action” line. I had the most fun watching the film put a 1968 F-100 Ford through its paces. I found out later that Ford did, in fact, use a lot of the footage from this film in ads for their 1976 line up of F-Series Ford Trucks.
Apparently, they made no modifications to the truck and every stunt performed is by a stock model. To Ford, this was proof as to how “tuff” their trucks are.