Nana Loved Bronson


Boodlust can bridge the generation gap, at least that’s what my Nana taught me, if not so much in words than by blasting the volume on “Death Wish 2” just before Charles Bronson blows the black guy’s head off.

KA-BOOM! Bet you didn’t see that one coming.

After that I was hooked for life...  It wasn’t the violence, or the depravity, or the inherent racism. It was just the idea of Bronson: living in a cartoon world where shooting people in the genitals was as natural as shaking hands. And watching Bronson's barbarity with my 80-something Italian grandmother not only made his actions acceptable- it made them downright wholesome. If Nana didn't flinch during a particularly liquid decapitation who was I to say boo?

Nana seemed to trust in Charlie's actions, as if they all made perfect sense: splitting the abdomen of a wealthy banker just to get the name of a contact seemed like a perfectly valid method of networking. As a result Charles Bronson became my action movie hero, my go-to guy: this wasn’t a man who bothered with paperwork or procedure or first names... just do what he said or he would off you, okay? Do you have some kind of problem with that?

And it was the perfect coincidence that there was a Bronson movie playing every time I went to my Nana’s house: we spent hours parked in front of deep-cheddar action-classics like “Telefon,” the “Death Wish” series, “Assassination,” and the eternal “Death Hunt.” (She must have subscribed to the All-Bronson Channel: “All Charles Bronson, all the time.’)

I used to try to understand the appeal for her- was it the senseless brutality? The less-than-adorable leading man? The tissue-paper plots? Charlie’s stiff and passion-free delivery? One day I asked Nana outright what she liked about the movies but, like all great mysteries of the universe, this one would remain unsolved. She was unusually vague, shrugging and almost acting as if she didn’t know who Charles Bronson was... I’m sure she had her reasons.

But I guess the reasons weren't that important because the next time I was at her place we watched "Someone Behind The Door," on VHS.

It was a terrible movie... but blood always made the afternoon easier.

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