Death Wish 4 the Saint

Monday, September 24, 2007

Death Wish 4 the Saint

Death Sentence is a 2007 film loosely based on the 1975 novel by Brian Garfield. The film is directed by James Wan, and stars Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, a man who becomes a vengeful vigilante killer after his son is murdered by a gang as an initiation ritual. The Brian Garfield novel is part of his Death Wish series, made famous by the films with Charles Bronson.

Death Wish IV is one of two blatant knock-offs of Leslie Charteris' The Saint in New York. The other is The Angel, from Timely comics -- according to Maurice Horn in World Encyclopedia of Comics, an early story of this character copied the plot of The Saint in New York and was on whole a homage to Charteris.

John McDonagh wrote to Brian Garfield (author of Death Wish) about the Charteris-Death Wish connection.
From: John McDonagh
To: Brian Garfield
Sent: Fri, 13 Jul 2007 11:26 pm
Subject: Bronson's Loose, I enjoyed the book, part IV and Saint in New York

By the way, on Death Wish IV, I actually had the pleasure of meeting with Irwin Keyes, who played a chauffeur to Frank Boggs (the hitman that Kersey defenestrates) in that film. He (Keyes) mentioned that he was almost hit by a dummy when they filmed Boggs' death scene. I told him "trademark Golan and Globus cutting corners".

I also informed Keyes that the plot of part IV actually had two major precursors. I can only imagine what the estate of Dashiell Hammett thought and what Leslie Charteris said (who was still alive when part IV came out in 1987; he died in 1993), since it took from Red Harvest by the former (as did Yojimbo and A Fistful of Dollars as Hickman notes) and The Saint in New York from the latter (protagonist brought in to wipe out gangs only to find out he has been working for a mobster out to eliminate his rivals). Red Harvest has been copied quite a few times, but the Saint in New York has been adapted far fewer times (there was a movie version and the Timely Comics character The Angel, already derivative of the Saint, did an ex officio adaptation of The Saint in New York) so it was interesting to see the homage to it in Death Wish IV.
To which Brian Garfield replied that didn't remember much of anything about the plot of Death Wish IV since he didn't write it and wasn't even sure he had ever watched the entire movie. He went on to say that Hammett or Charteris need not worry, that since there are a limited number of plot lines, all writers crib from one another, sometimes inadvertently, and that such duplications have little or no effect on the quality or effect of the work. It's the characters and their relationships that are what separates the great stories from the more mundane, and fortunately so, otherwise King Lear would have long ago been buried under a large pile of imitations.

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