British film director Michael Winner, whose vigilante thriller "Death Wish" painted a grim portrait of crime-plagued, 1970s New York, has died. He was 77.
Winner's wife, Geraldine, said he died Monday at his London home after an illness, the Associated Press reported.
"Death Wish" was a career-making hit for Winner and its star, Charles Bronson, who played Paul Kersey, a New York businessman set on avenging the murder of his wife and rape of his daughter by a group of thugs.
Upon its release in 1974, many critics blasted "Death Wish" for its brutality. The New York Times' Vincent Canby said the movie "seems to have been made for no reason except to exploit its audience's urban paranoia and vestigial fascination with violence for its own sake."
But "Death Wish" became a surprise hit, earning $22 million at the box office and spawning four increasingly grisly sequels over the next 20 years, two of which Winner directed.