Firepower (film)

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Firepower
Firepower FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byMichael Winner
Produced byMichael Winner
Alex Meakin
Written byBill Kerby
Gerard Wilson
Michael Winner
StarringSophia Loren
James Coburn
O. J. Simpson
Eli Wallach
Victor Mature
Jake LaMotta
Music byGato Barbieri
CinematographyRobert Paynter
Edited byMichael Winner
Production
company
ITC Entertainment
Michel Winner Productions
Distributed byAssociated Film Distribution
Release date
  • 13 April 1979 (1979-04-13)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office$1.2 million (US rentals)[1]

Firepower (aka Fire Power) is a 1979 British thriller film directed by Michael Winner and starring Sophia Loren, James Coburn, O. J. Simpson and Eli Wallach.[2] It was the final film in the career of actor Victor Mature. The film was poorly reviewed by critics who objected to its convoluted plot, though the lead performances and filming locations were generally praised.[3]

Plot[edit]

In New York, Adele Tasca ((Sophia Loren)) is present when her husband is murdered by a letter bomb. She suspects the reclusive billionaire Karl Stegner (George Touliatos), his former employer of committing the assassination. She learns her husband who worked as a chemist, discovered that his employer had made a contaminated drug that resulted in patients contracting cancer. The US government would like to be able to charge this mysterious man who hides his identity and income from the tax department.

FBI agent Frank Hull (Vincent Gardenia) is assigned to the case but does not know how to find Stegner. He decides to use a former secret agent, Sal Hyman (Eli Wallach), to help him. The latter hires Jerry Fannon (James Coburn), a former mafia hitman, for a million dollars, and sends him to Antigua. Sal thinks Jerry is the only man likely to infiltrate the network that protects Stegner.

His right hand man, Catlett (O. J. Simpson) is killed by Leo Gelhorn (George Grizzard) on the island, but with the help of the beautiful Adele, who wants revenge, Jerry succeeds in tracking down Stegner, before realizing that he actually captured Stegner's double, who was the victim of an attack by Stegner's men. Jerry returns to the island where Stegner is hiding. The mysterious Dr. Felix (Anthony Franciosa) is really Stegner.

After disposing of the vehicles and the helicopter of Dr. Felix, Jerry enters the house with a bulldozer. He takes Felix prisoner and leaves with him and Adele, pursued by Stegner's bodyguards. As they prepare to leave the island by seaplane, Adele turns a gun on Jerry. Felix takes his weapon, but when he fires at Jerry, Adele turns away. Jerry finally takes off with Dr. Felix to be brought to justice.

A little later, Adele is introduced to Harold Everett (Victor Mature), another billionaire who she sets her eyes on, as her next conquest.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Firepower started as a Dirty Harry film written by Bill Kerby. It was considerably rewritten.[4] In 1977 O.J. Simpson mentioned one of his upcoming projects was Fire Power for producer Carlo Ponti with Terence Hill.[5]

Loren's fee was a reported $1 million.[6]

According to director Michael Winner, producer Lew Grade had fully expected Charles Bronson to co-star with Loren. With much of the pre-production crew already on location in the Caribbean, Grade wanted to shut down the production when Bronson pulled out. Realizing how much money he had already sunk into a film that had not properly secured its star actors, Grade saved face by moving ahead using James Coburn as a replacement for Bronson.[7]

Winner says the millionaire character was based on Howard Hughes and Robert Vesco.[8]

Firepower was filmed in Curaçao,[9] Saint Lucia, Antigua,[10] Brooklyn, New Jersey, New York, Miami, Florida, and Key Largo, Florida. Bridgeport Ct. Was personally on site during filming.[11]

Victor Mature makes a cameo at the request of director Michael Winner, who wanted someone instantly recognisable for the role of the one of the richest people in the world.[12] "I worked for eight hours on one scene," he laughed.[13][N 1]

Winner says he "resented" having O.J. Simpson imposed on him but "now I am happy he was given to me because what he lacks in experience he makes up with in charisma." Simpson said "there were times on this movie, I didn't feel comfortable. I needed a little more attention from the director to establish my character."[15]

The aircraft used in Firepower were:

Reception[edit]

Firepower was an early release from AFD, a new distribution company set up by Lew Grade in association with EMI to distribute their films in the US.[17]

Critical[edit]

Firepower was negatively received by most critics due to a convoluted plot, though the locations and chemistry between the leading players was generally appreciated. Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Winner directs movies the way others toss salads, which means that “Firepower” is best appreciated at a kind of mental half‐mast. A lot happens. None of it makes sense". She further added: "Some of the performances Mr. Winner gets from his supporting players are rip‐roaringly awful, as is Gato Barbieri's loud and schlocky score. However, there's a nice chemistry in the teaming of Miss Loren, Mr. Coburn and Mr. Simpson, each of whom has an unusually physical presence on the screen."[18]

Author John Howard Reid concurred that the plot was too convoluted, stating that the film has "enough plot twists and action sequences for a dozen movies". He approved of the performances, but expressed disappointment that Victor Mature barely had any screen time and was not central to the plot and that Coburn's double role wasn't used to better effect.[9]

The review in Variety noted: "If the story becomes too tough or tiresome to follow, or the action grows tepid and repetitive, there’s always the beautiful scenery of the glamorous Caribbean locales."[19]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Winner recalled Mature "let his hair go grey when he did 'Firepower' with Sophia Loren. He dyed it dark but it came out green. Sophia was orange so he said that the end of the film was the green man meets the orange woman."[14]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Epstein, Andrew. "The big thuds of 1979 – Films that flopped, badly." Los Angeles Times, 27 April 1980, p. 6.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Review: 'Firepower'." Allmovie, 2019. Retrieved: 3 September 2019.
  3. ^ Halliwell 1989, pp. 248–249.
  4. ^ Lyons, Donald and Dan Yakir. "Shooting star." Film Comment (New York), Vol. 16, Issue 1, (Jan/Feb 1980), pp. 49-53, 80.
  5. ^ Lee, Grant. "O.J. – Running a screen play." Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb 1977, p. f14.
  6. ^ "On the set of 'Firepower' – Suddenly, Sophia." Los Angeles Times, 2 July 1978, p. n37.
  7. ^ Winner 2004, pp. 224–225.
  8. ^ Buckley, Tom. "At the movies: What Sophia Loren was doing in Grand Central." The New York Times, 30 June 1978, p. C8.
  9. ^ a b Reid 2015, p. 205.
  10. ^ American Photo, July–August 1995, p. 13. ISSN 1046-8986.
  11. ^ Waggoner, H. "Byrne plays opposite Miss Loren in his role as film promoter: Four movies scheduled." The New York Times, 22 June 1978, p. NJ23.
  12. ^ "Whatever Happened to Lady Joan?" Los Angeles Times 27 June 1978, p. f6.
  13. ^ Tedrick, Dan. "No lions to slay at Rancho Santa F." Los Angeles Times, 29 May 1980, p. sd_a6.
  14. ^ Barnes, Anthony. "Winner's tribute to modest mature.":. Birmingham Post [County Edition], 11 August 1999, p. 10.
  15. ^ Steiner, Stephen. "New bottles for the old juice." Chicago Tribune, 3 September 1978, p. g10.
  16. ^ Santoir, Christian. "Review: 'Firepower'." Aeromovies, 26 July 2019. Retrieved: 4 September 2019.
  17. ^ Kilday, Gregg. "A new dimension for a brother act." Los Angeles Times 28 October 1978, p. b11.
  18. ^ "Review: 'Firepower'." Rotten Tomatoes, 6 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Review: 'Firepower'." Variety, 6 April 2017.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Halliwell, Leslie. Leslie Halliwell's Film Guide. New York: Harper & Roe, 1989. ISBN 978-0-06016-322-8.
  • Reid, John Howard. Classic Movies: The Best and the Worst Pictures to see! Films to avoid! Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu.com. (Reid Books), 2015. ISBN 978-1-312-96238-5.
  • Winner, Michael. Winner Takes All: A Life of Sorts. London: Robson Books, 2004. ISBN 978-1-86105-734-1.

External links[edit]