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Charles Bronson, Tough Guy

Getty Images / Michael Ochs Archives / Photo by Michael Montfort

Charles Bronson, Tough Guy

One of cinema's top tough guys, Charles Bronson, was born Nov. 3, 1921, 90 years ago today. In honor of his birthday, we're watching a few of his best movies.

Though Bronson's acting career began in 1951, it would be nearly a decade before he truly made a splash — in the John Sturges western classic The Magnificent Seven (based on Akira Kurosawa's legendary Seven Samurai). Acting alongside Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn and other greats, Bronson played one of seven gunfighters helping protect a small Mexican town — and gained attention with his stony stare.

As Bronson's star rose, he landed a role in 1967's The Dirty Dozen (based in part on the real adventures of Jack Agnew and the "Filthy Thirteen") alongside Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland and John Cassavetes. One of twelve felons conscripted in World War II to kill German officers, Bronson's character was tough enough to survive the suicide mission. Tough — and a little disturbed.

1974 brought one of Bronson's starring roles, perhaps his most memorable. In Death Wish, Bronson played a man who took to vigilantism after the death of his wife. His characteristic stoniness made his backstreets crime fighter all the scarier.

Bronson died Aug. 30, 2003, but his tough guys are still some of the greatest of all time.