Firepower (film)

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Firepower FilmPoster.jpeg
Original theatrical poster
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
ITC Entertainment
Michel Winner Productions
Distributed byAssociated Film Distribution
Release date
  • 13 April 1979 (1979-04-13)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1.2 million (US rentals)[1]

Firepower 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.


The FBI hires a former mafia hitman (James Coburn) to track down and bring in a powerful reclusive billionaire suspected of criminal acts for his own benefit. The man also comes into a conflict with a woman (Sophia Loren) tracking down the same crook for revenge reasons.



The film started as a Dirty Harry movie written by Bill Kerby. It was considerably rewritten.[3]

In 1977 O.J. Simpson mentioned one of his upcoming projects was Fire Power for producer Carlo Ponti with Terence Hill.[4]

Loren's fee was a reported $1 million.[5]

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.[6]

Winner says the millionaire character was based on Howard Hughes and Robert Vesco.[7]

Firepower was filmed in Curaçao,[8] Saint Lucia, Antigua,[9] Brooklyn, New Jersey, New York, Miami, Florida, and Key Largo, Florida. Bridgeport Ct. Was personally on site during filming.[10]

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.[11] "I worked for eight hours on one scene," he laughed.[12]

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."[13]

Winner says he "resented" having OJ 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."[14]


The film 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.[15]


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."[16] 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.[8] Variety wrote: "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."[17]


  1. ^ The Big Thuds of 1979 – Films That Flopped, Badly. Epstein, Andrew. Los Angeles Times. 27 Apr 1980: o6.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Firepower". Allmovie. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  3. ^ Shooting Star. Lyons, Donald; Yakir, Dan. Film Comment; New York. Vol. 16, Iss. 1, (Jan/Feb 1980): 49-53, 80.
  4. ^ O.J. – Running a Screen Play. Lee, Grant. Los Angeles Times. 23 Feb 1977: f14.
  5. ^ On the Set of 'Firepower' – Suddenly, Sophia. Los Angeles Times. 2 July 1978: n37.
  6. ^ Winner, Michael (2004). Winner Takes All. Robson Books. pp. 224–225. ISBN 1-86105-840-3.
  7. ^ At the Movies: What Sophia Loren was doing in Grand Central. Buckley, Tom. New York Times. 30 June 1978: C8.
  8. ^ a b Reid, John Howard (26 July 2015). Classic Movies The Best and the Worst Pictures to see! Films to avoid!. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-312-96238-5.
  9. ^ American Photo. July – August 1995. p. 13. ISSN 1046-8986.
  10. ^ Byrne Plays Opposite Miss Loren In His Role as Film Promoter: Four Movies Scheduled. H. Waggoner. New York Times. 22 June 1978: NJ23.
  11. ^ Whatever Happened to Lady Joan? Los Angeles Times. 27 June 1978: f6.
  12. ^ No Lions to Slay at Rancho Santa Fe Tedrick, Dan. Los Angeles Times. 29 May 1980: sd_a6
  13. ^ Winner's tribute to modest Mature: [County Edition]. Barnes, Anthony. Birmingham Post11. Aug 1999: 10.
  14. ^ New bottles for the old Juice Steiner, Stephen. Chicago Tribune. 3 Sep 1978: g10.
  15. ^ A New Dimension for a Brother Act. Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times. 28 Oct 1978: b11.
  16. ^ "Firepower". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Firepower". Variety. Retrieved 6 April 2017.

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