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The Stone Killer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Stone Killer
Stone killer.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Winner
Produced byMichael Winner[1]
Screenplay byGerald Wilson[1]
Based onA Complete State of Death
by John Gardner[1]
StarringCharles Bronson
Martin Balsam
Jack Colvin
Paul Koslo
John Ritter
Norman Fell
Music byRoy Budd[1]
CinematographyRichard Moore[2]
Distributed byColumbia Pictures[2]
Release date
  • August 8, 1973 (1973-08-08)[3]
Running time
95 minutes[3]
United States[3]
Box office$1,300,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[4]

The Stone Killer is a 1973 action neo noir thriller film produced and directed by Michael Winner and starring Charles Bronson. It came out in between The Mechanic (1972) and Death Wish (1974), all three of which teamed up actor/director Bronson and Winner. Norman Fell and John Ritter appear as cops in this film, not too long before the TV series Three's Company. Character actor Stuart Margolin plays a significant role; he also appeared in Death Wish.


The film involves a plot by a present-day (1973) Mafia don (Martin Balsam) to avenge the killings of a group of Mafia dons back in 1931 ("The Night of Sicilian Vespers") with a bold nationwide counter-strike against most of the current Italian and Jewish syndicate heads using teams of Vietnam vets instead of Mafia hit men. ("Stone killer" means a Mafia hit man who is not himself a member of the Mafia.)

Bronson plays a gritty, independent detective who stumbles across the plot when a washed-up former hit man is killed under circumstances that make it clear that it was an inside job and that Mafia were involved. He then slowly uncovers the clues that point to a seemingly impossible plot.



The film was based on the 1969 novel A Complete State of Death by John Gardner writing under the name Derek Torry. The New York Times called it a "message novel, only slightly pretentious, relevant but under paced."[5] The novel was greatly changed in the adaptation.[6]

Filming took place in May 1973.[7]

During the shootout in the parking garage at the film's climax, stunt Coordinator Alan Gibbs' seat-belt snapped and his head struck the steering wheel, causing him to sustain serious injuries in one of the numerous car crashes that take place. The cars were rentals from Hertz, who were so concerned with damage that they sent a representative to the set to reclaim them. Winner supposedly told the rep, "You should be glad we're crashing your (expletive) awful cars. You'll be able to write them off completely and get nice new ones."[8]


Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four and called it "a superior example of its type – tough cop against the mob – and probably the best violent big-city police movie since 'Dirty Harry.' It's not much more, nor does it mean to be; it offers stylish escapism at breakneck speed, and it gives us a chase and a gun battle that surpass themselves."[9] Roger Greenspun of The New York Times wrote, "Anyone suspected of liking a Michael Winner movie may be assumed guilty until proven innocent. Since there is no way in which I can be proven innocent, I might as well confess to liking Winner's latest, 'The Stone Killer,' very much indeed."[10] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called the film "a confused, meandering crime potboiler", explaining, "The story and direction reach for so many bases that the end result is a lot of cinema razzle-dazzle without substance."[11] Fredric Milstein of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Want a fast, slick, violent, entertaining minor spinoff of 'The French Connection,' complete with vicious, rebellious cop who doesn't care how much property he busts up during the really spectacular chase sequence? Plus added mafiosi, junkies, hippies and all manner of bizarre New York and California locales to keep the plot just weird and complicated enough? Then see 'The Stone Killer.'"[12] Tom Zito of The Washington Post stated, "Unfortunately the direction of Michael Winner doesn't bail 'The Stone Killer' out. Winner has recently been responsible for movies like 'Dealing' and 'The Night Comers,' films that were closer to bad television than good cinema. Like the new one, they were competently assembled without inspiration, craft without art."[13] Tony Rayns of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "On paper, The Stone Killer must have seemed a masterful compendium of the chief elements from every major gangster/thriller movie of recent years ... But in Michael Winner's less-than-masterful hands the generic is unfailingly reduced to the formularly; and the plot's near total lack of structure makes the movie seem like clips from a dozen others, strung arbitrarily together."[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "The Stone Killer – Credits". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "The Stone Killer – History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "The Stone Killer – Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  4. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p. 60
  5. ^ ALLEN J. HUBIN (Oct 5, 1969). "Criminals At Large". New York Times. p. BR36.
  6. ^ "Back to the Bunker". The Guardian. Jan 31, 1977. p. 8.
  7. ^ A. H. WEILER. (May 13, 1973). "Ah, To Be 18 and a Movie Mogul!: ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK SUSPENSEFUL PERRY SELECTED SHORTS FINAL CURTAIN MORE WHITMORE WHERE'S WINNER? To Be 18 and a Mogul!". New York Times. p. 127.
  8. ^ Harding, Bill (1978). The Films of Michael Winner. Frederick Muller Limited. p. 100. ISBN 0-584-10449-9.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 19, 1973). "The Stone Killer". Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  10. ^ Greenspun, Roger (August 30, 1973). "Film: 'The Stone Killer". The New York Times. 26.
  11. ^ Murphy, Arthur D. (August 22, 1973). "Film Reviews: The Stone Killer". Variety. 12.
  12. ^ Milstein, Fredric (August 31, 1973). "Vicious Cop, Chase, Mafiosi in 'Killer'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 18.
  13. ^ Zito, Tom (October 1, 1973). "Insubstantial Cops-and-Robbers". The Washington Post. B4.
  14. ^ Rayns, Tony (February 1974). "The Stone Killer". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 41 (481): 35.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 August 2020, at 13:16
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