St. Ives (1976 film)

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St. Ives
St. Ives.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Written byBarry Beckerman
Based onThe Procane Chronicle by Oliver Bleeck
Starring Charles Bronson
John Houseman
Harry Guardino
Harris Yulin
Dana Elcar
Maximilian Schell
Jacqueline Bisset
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited byMichael F. Anderson
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • July 23, 1976 (1976-07-23)(Chicago) [1]
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.3 million [2]

St. Ives is a 1976 American crime thriller film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Charles Bronson, John Houseman, Jacqueline Bisset, and Maximilian Schell.


The film was the first of nine collaborations between Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson.


Abner Procane hires Raymond St. Ives, a crime reporter and ex-policeman, to return five ledgers stolen from his safe.

St. Ives becomes embroiled in the task and the deaths of those involved in the theft. The ledgers are eventually returned minus four pages, and St. Ives is drawn into robbery to try and right the situation.



The novel The Procane Chronicle was published in 1972 written by Ross Thomas under the pen name "Oliver Bleeck". The New York Times said "it should find ready acceptance among readers who like sophistication amid the welter." [3] Film rights were bought in 1972 by Warner Bros who announced it would be made by director Dick Richards as the first of a two-picture deal (the other being W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings . [4] Stanley Canter and Sidney Beckerman were to produce. [5]

The film took a number of years to be made. Eventually Charles Bronson signed to star, with J. Lee Thompson to direct. They later worked on eight other films together, including The White Buffalo , Caboblanco , 10 to Midnight , Murphy's Law , The Evil That Men Do , Death Wish 4: The Crackdown , Messenger of Death and Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects .

Bronson's wife Jill Ireland had appeared in a number of his films but decided not to appear in St Ives. [6] The female lead went to Jacqueline Bisset, who said the film "was less violent than most of Bronson's films, there is more of a romance." [7]

According to Phil Hardy in his book The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: The Gangster Film, Ingmar Bergman visited the set of the film and reported that Charles Bronson was "scandalously underestimated". [8]

The movie is also notable for early film cameos by Michael Lerner, Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund. Goldblum again portrayed a maniacal street punk, as he had in Death Wish (1974).


Critical response

The film's box office performance was described as "modest". [2] On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 44% based on 9 reviews. [9]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 stars out of 4 and called it "an ambitious Charles Bronson picture that looks good but finally doesn't quite work. It's got atmosphere, an interesting cast and some nice action scenes. But it bogs down in those speculations that are the bane of all crime mysteries." [10] Richard Eder of The New York Times wrote a modest recommendation, stating that the film "takes itself neither too seriously nor too lightly. Its occasional wit avoids heavy parody; its action avoids heavy reliance on violence, car chases and other such mechanical paraphernalia ... [Bronson] manages a pleasantly tried skepticism while the bodies fall all around." [11] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety wrote that the film "merely confirms a point: Eliminate gratuitous, offensive and overdone violence from a dull and plodding film story, and all you've got left is a dull and plodding film." [12] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1.5 stars out of 4 and wrote, "The pace of the film is as lethargic as the acting." He added, "'St. Ives' is the kind of picture that introduces critical off-camera incidents at will. It's a mystery that doesn't play fair. It is neither possible to solve nor worth trying." [13] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "is what the trade calls a Charles Bronson starrer. It is also what the trade calls a program picture, competent, familiar and uninspired." [14] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote that the film was "easy enough to string along with in an undemanding mood," though "Charles Bronson never seems remotely plausible as the sort of literary Shamus Raymond St. Ives is purported to be." [15]

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  1. "St. Ives (Advertisement)". Chicago Tribune . July 22, 1976. Section 3, p. 6. "The action starts tomorrow, exclusively at Roosevelt."
  2. 1 2 SECOND ANNUAL GROSSES GLOSS Byron, Stuart. Film Comment; New York Vol. 13, Iss. 2, (Mar/Apr 1977): 35-37,64.
  3. Criminals At Large By NEWGATE CALLENDAR. New York Times 30 Jan 1972: BR24.
  4. MOVIE CALL SHEET: Henry Fonda to Play CIA Agent in 'Snake' Los Angeles Times 01 Sep 1972: d12.
  5. MOVIE CALL SHEET: Saxon Will Start in 'Hands' Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 2 Oct 1972: d15
  6. For Bronson, Piecework Is a Virtue: Movies Piecework a Virtue for Charles Bronson Piecework a Virtue for Bronson Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times 2 Nov 1975: o1
  7. Jacqueline Bisset: Film Survivor Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 8 Dec 1975: f18.
  8. Collection (1998). Hardy, Phil (ed.). The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: The Gangster Film. Contributions by Jeremy Clarke ... [et al.] ; illustrations by the Kobal. New York, New York: The Overlook Press. p. 365. ISBN   0879518995.
  9. "St. Ives". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  10. Ebert, Roger (August 2, 1976). "St. Ives". . Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  11. Eder, Richard (September 2, 1976). "'St. Ives' Is Entertaining Crime Film". The New York Times . 24.
  12. Murphy, Arthur D. (July 21, 1976). "Film Reviews: St. Ives". Variety . 22.
  13. Siskel, Gene (July 26, 1976). "It's the same old Bronson in 'St. Ives'". Chicago Tribune . Section 5, p. 6.
  14. Champlin, Charles (August 25, 1976). "Bronson Programmed in 'Ives'". Los Angeles Times . Part IV, p. 16.
  15. Arnold, Gary (August 14, 1976). "'St. Ives': Bronson and Bisset In a Mild Mystery Melodrama". The Washington Post . C7.