Cinema Retro provides a link to the Daily Mail's excerpts of (the late) Producer Michael Winner's take on various stars he worked with. For the entire piece you can get the link herehttp://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/7290-MEMOIRS-OF-MICHAEL-WINNER.html The only disappointment is Lauren Bacall. Not a nice woman at all. An understatement.
Charles Bronson, who starred in my Death Wish films, had been brought up among the poorest of the poor in a mining town in Pennsylvania. He had a violent streak, and could, I believe, easily have turned to a life of crime.
His reaction when he first heard the plot of Death Wish was one I won't forget. 'It's about a man whose wife and daughter are mugged, and he goes out and shoots muggers,' I'd told him. 'I'd like to do that,' said Charles.
'What, the film?' I said.
'No. Shoot muggers,' he replied.
In other respects, though, he wasn't at all like his tough-guy image. For a start, he shaved eight years off his age - which made him 60 rather than 52 when we did our first film together in 1971.
When we booked Charles into a hotel, he'd say he didn't want to be above the first floor - 'because if there's a fire, I won't be able to get out'. And he hated it when members of the public wanted to shake his hand.
'I might catch something from them,' he said.
While making the Death Wish movies, I had lunch with him every day and he always forgot his glasses - so he'd ask me to read him the menu. This was rather sweet. On set, he was supposed to be a great sharpshooter, picking people off buildings 100 miles away - yet he couldn't even read a menu.
If you kept him any longer than 6.30pm on set, he'd become extremely irritated. When I begged him to stay on to complete a scene, he'd say: 'Michael, it took me 40 years to become a star, those are the terms in my contract and I'm afraid I'm going to stick to them.'
The truth is he was terribly conscious of the fact that he'd come to stardom late. Never once, for instance, did he agree to do a film with a star as his leading lady. He was insecure and simply didn't want the competition.
Every day, he exercised and dieted carefully. And, shortly before the first Death Wish, he had plastic surgery.
Over time, he had a great deal more of it. Sadly, that wonderfully lined face became increasingly bland.
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