British film-maker Michael Winner has hailed late screen star CHARLES BRONSON as one of the few greats in "the history of cinema".

Bronson died on Saturday (30AUG03) in Los Angeles, after losing his battle with pneumonia. He was 81.

Winner - who directed Bronson in six films, including the first three installments of popular DEATH WISH series - has paid tribute to the star's "consummate" acting ability and their "very close" friendship.

He says, "He was a wonderfully charismatic screen presence such as you very seldom get in the history of cinema. He was a very, very close friend for more than 30 years and a very under-rated actor."

The director also shed light on Bronson's troubled early years as a coal miner in Pennsylvania, claiming the experience had a lasting affect on him.

He adds, "He was quite scarred by his experiences in his youth but he was a very professional man who was a consummate screen actor. He knew his craft very well indeed."

01/09/2003 13:32