'Death Wish' director Michael Winner dies

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LONDON -- "Death Wish" director Michael Winner, a British filmmaker, restaurant critic and bon vivant, died Monday. He was 77.

Winner's wife, Geraldine, said he died at his London home after an illness.

Winner's 30 movies included three "Death Wish" films starring the late Charles Bronson. Many of his features sit at the schlockier end of the spectrum, but he also worked with Hollywood icons including Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster and Faye Dunaway.

Winner never took criticism of his films too seriously. "If you want art, don't mess about with movies," he once said. "Buy a Picasso."

Born in London in 1935, Winner was writing a show biz column for a local newspaper by age 14, and as a student edited the Cambridge University newspaper, Varsity.

He started his moviemaking career on shorts and documentaries. Winner was best known for "Death Wish," which stars Bronson as a law-abiding citizen who turns vigilante when his family is attacked. The 1974 film was criticized for its violence, but was a commercial success in an America fretting about urban violence and a fraying social fabric.

A lover of the high life who collected antiques and rare first editions, Winner had a second career as restaurant critic with the long-running "Winner's Dinners" column in The Sunday Times newspaper.

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