Michael Winner’s 1972 The Mechanic is a pretty solid Charles Bronson vehicle (it was remade as a pretty disappointing Jason Statham/Ben Foster film in 2011). I wonder if this hitman-apprentice pic was any sort of inspiration for The Professional.
The film feels like the same conservative filmmaking from Don Siegel in Coogan’s Bluff (1968). That’s not conservative aesthetically, or in any bad sort of way for that matter, but rather in its depiction of the stoic older generation amidst a partying, unpredictable younger generation.
Like other films I’ve blogged about recently, The Mechanic also has a scene that shows the wild and crazy counter-culture kids. In hindsight it feels not only passe, but, well, corny. If it’s not Easy Rider, the hippy generation seems to be either murderers (see Dirty Harry) or silly druggies that love fun colors and could just as easily be found in a circus (see below).
Though Coogan’s Bluff depicts Eastwood as the law and The Mechanic has Bronson as an assassin, both basically function the same way. They’re the old men, either disgusted by or ignorant of (or both) anyone below the age of 20. Like this still shows-
-both men are visually out of place in this type of environment, and the frenzy is only an anomalous backdrop for the real world that they inhabit. Winner’s film is very much about a code (Bronson as “man-with-a-code” runs concurrent to Alain Delon in a similar role in Jean-Pierre Melville’s films; the two would co-star in 1968’s Farewell Friend) – the hippies in the film have no code and therefore they’re relegated to the status of sideshow only.