The Action Mutant…
says “Jeezy Creezy! What’s going on here?”
Cold Sweat (1970)
review by Joe Burrows
I know this is what everyone (and I) has been waiting for…more Bronson! The lack of Old Stoneface can be explained by the fact that I watched most of the Bronson stuff I have before I launched these writings. As I mentioned a while back, he was kind of the inspirations for these writings and you’d probably be right in guessing I have a slight bias toward him. Now I can tell the shit from the shineola most of the time but when it comes to Charlie, I’m more apt to watch it all the way through than most other star’s pics. Take it from someone that wrote their Film History paper on Charles Bronson in college.
The Plot, as it was:
Bronson stars as Joe Moran, a guy who rents boats out on the harbors of France and lives the good life with his wife Fabienne (Liv Ullmann) and daughter Michele (Yannick de Lulle). Their tranquility is interrupted when a group of criminals from Joe’s past show up. Years ago, Joe was Joe Martin, soldier and getaway driver for the crooked soldiers during a robbery. However, when one of them killed a guard, Joe ditched them and they were all arrested. Led by the corrupt Capt. Ross (James Mason), the gang blackmails Joe by kidnapping his family and prompting him into doing one more job. However, we all know that Joe Bron…I mean, Moran doesn’t play by normal people’s rules.
Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Cold Sweat is a tight, compact kind of film. Like many of Bronson’s vehicles, it’s not entirely memorable but it doesn’t overstay its welcome either. Charlie actually gets to act a good deal in this one, displaying that unmistakable charisma with a natural delivery in some solid, emotional situations. Another aspect that will strike viewers’ interest is the casting oddities that are sprinkled throughout. You won’t see another film out there that has James Mason as a military captain with a Southern accent, Jill Ireland as a kooky hippie and Ingmar Bergman muse Liv Ullmann as a housewife opposite Charles Bronson! Those amusing turns alone make for an interesting curio, even if the rest of the film is right on the line. The story is nothing new and the pacing does get a bit slowed at times, not to mention a few errors in plotting. Nevertheless, Cold Sweat is entertaining for the most part and builds to a pretty decent end with some good, tense scenes. Occasional James Bond & Bronson director Terrence Young also brings out the best of his French locales and odd atmosphere. And did I mention JAMES FUCKING MASON SPEAKING IN A SOUTHERN ACCENT? Why are you still reading this then?
Body Count/Violence: 5. There was some initial confusion with the number, as Joe seemingly offs two mobsters only for them to return a few scenes later. That’s one thing later Bronson films would correct; any confusion as to who was dead. Anyway, there’s some bloody shooting, stabbing, fighting, flare gun play, and one of those 70s car chases that goes one for about 10 minutes and causes some vehicular mishaps.
Sexuality/Nudity: A woman is shown briefly topless in an early scene. There’s also special mention of the seemingly constant up skirt shots of de Lulle, as the DoP seems to take full advantage of showing the panties of a supposedly 12 year old girl.
Language/Dialogue: Just mild stuff. No taking advantage of the language in the pre-PG-13 era.
How bad was it?:
Most critics put it on par with any run of the mill Bronson pic, which is to say it has its share or bad reviews. Some find it favorable, as most of Bronson’s European efforts were.
Did it make the studio’s day?:
French distributors produced Cold Sweat (or De la part des copains) in 1970 and it was released in that country in December of that year. It was released in America by Emerson Film Enterprises in June of 1974, roughly a month before Death Wish hit theaters. No box office/budget numbers are known but this one is fairly easy to find and a favorite of the $1 DVD type.
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****
Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.