Original theatrical poster
|Directed by||Michael Winner|
|Produced by||Michael Winner |
|Written by||Bill Kerby|
O. J. Simpson
|Music by||Gato Barbieri|
|Edited by||Michael Winner|
Michel Winner Productions
|Distributed by||Associated Film Distribution|
|Box office||$1.2 million (US rentals)|
Firepower is a 1979 British thriller film directed by Michael Winner and starring Sophia Loren, James Coburn, O. J. Simpson and Eli Wallach. 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.
- Sophia Loren as Adele Tasca
- James Coburn as Jerry Fanon/Eddie
- O. J. Simpson as Catlett
- Eli Wallach as Sal Hyman
- Anthony Franciosa as Dr. Charles Felix
- George Grizzard as Leo Gelhorn
- Vincent Gardenia as Frank Hull
- Victor Mature as Harold Everett
- Jake LaMotta as Nickel Sam
- Hank Garrett as Oscar Bailey
- George Touliatos as Karl Stegner
- Conrad Roberts as Lestor Wallace
- Billy Barty as Dominic Carbone
- Jake LaMotta as Nickel Sam
- Vincent Beck as Trilling
- Dominic Chianese as Orlov
- Andrew Duncan as Del Cooper
- Paul D'Amato as Tagua
Loren's fee was a reported $1 million.
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.
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. "I worked for eight hours on one scene," he laughed.
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."
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."
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.
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." 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. 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."
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