St. Ives (1976): J. Lee Thompson’s Crime Thriller, Starring Charles Bronson, John Houseman, Jacqueline Bisset, Maximilian Schell

The first of nine collaborations between star Charles Bronson and director J. Lee Thompson, St Ives was a mediocre crime thriller, slightly elevated by its supporting cast: John Houseman, Jacqueline Bisset, and Maximilian Schell.

St. Ives
St. Ives.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The novel The Procane Chronicle was published in 1972 written by Ross Thomas under the pen name “Oliver Bleeck.” Film rights were bought in 1972 by Warner.

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 4 pages, and St. Ives is drawn into robbery to try and right the situation.

Bronson’s wife Jill Ireland had appeared in several of his films but decided not to appear in St Ives. The female lead went to Jacqueline Bisset, who said the film “was less violent than most of Bronson’s films.”

Ingmar Bergman visited the set of the film and reported that Charles Bronson was “scandalously underestimated”.

The movie is notable for early cameos by Jeff Goldblum and Robert Englund. Goldblum reprised his role of the maniacal street punk he had first played in Death Wish (1974).

Bronson never seems plausible as the sort of literary Shamus Raymond St. Ives is purported to be.

Hampered by lethargic pacing, verbose script, mediocre acting, and gratuitously overdone violence, St. Ives was barely a moderate success at the box-office, considering Bronson’s stature as a star at the time.

Charles Bronson as Raymond St. Ives
John Houseman as Abner Procane
Jacqueline Bisset as Janet
Maximilian Schell as Dr. Constable
Harris Yulin as Oller
Dana Elcar as Blunt
Harry Guardino as Deal
Joseph Roman as Seymour
Jerome Thor as Chasman
George Sawaya as Arab Bagman


Directed by J. Lee Thompson
Written by Barry Beckerman, based on The Procane Chronicle by Oliver Bleeck
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release date: July 23, 1976 (Chicago)

Running time: 94 minutes
Box office $2.3 million

J. Lee Thompson–Charles Bronson Collaboration: Nine Films

The film took years to be made–until Charles Bronson signed to star, with J. Lee Thompson as director.

They later worked on 8 other films together: 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.

J. Lee Thompson Filmography

1950-1989; 39 years

As Director


Murder Without Crime (1950)

The Yellow Balloon (1953)

The Weak and the Wicked (1954)

For Better, for Worse (1954)

As Long as They’re Happy (1955)

An Alligator Named Daisy (1955)

Yield to the Night (1956)

The Good Companions (1957)

Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957)

Ice Cold in Alex (1958)

Tiger Bay (1959)

No Trees in the Street (1959)

North West Frontier (1959)


I Aim at the Stars (1960)

The Guns of Navarone (1961)

Cape Fear (1962)

Taras Bulba (1962)

Kings of the Sun (1963)

What a Way to Go! (1964)

John Goldfarb, Please Come Home! (1965)

Return from the Ashes (1965)

Eye of the Devil (1966)

Before Winter Comes (1969)

Mackenna’s Gold (1969)

The Chairman (1969)


Country Dance (1970)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

A Great American Tragedy (1972)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Huckleberry Finn (1974)

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

Widow (1976)

St. Ives (1976)

The White Buffalo (1977)

The Greek Tycoon (1978)

The Passage (1979)

Caboblanco (1980)

Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

10 to Midnight (1983)

The Evil That Men Do (1984)

The Ambassador (1984)

King Solomon’s Mines (1985)

Murphy’s Law (1986)

Firewalker (1986)

Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987)

Messenger of Death (1988)

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989)

As Writer Only

The Price of Folly (1937)

The Middle Watch (1941)

East of Piccadilly (1941)

For Them That Trespass (1949)

No Place for Jennifer (1950)

Future Hunters (1988)