Investigating why ex-Zep guitarist Jimmy Page covered a Chopin Prelude (“No. 4 in E minor”) during the 1983 ARMS Charity Concert series (raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis research) led me to Death Wish II (1982)—Page, hired to write the soundtrack, lifted No. 4 & incorporated it into the soundtrack. He called this composition “Prelude.” It’s on the b-side of the soundtrack LP. At the ARMS shows, he performed three tracks from Death Wish II—I guess it was the only new music he had to offer? (I like some of the synth-heavy instrumental stuff. “The Chase,” “Hotel Rats & Photostats,” “A Shadow in the City,” & “Untitled Bow Creation”—all of which could be happily inserted into a horror movie. The rest of the Death Wish II soundtrack? This is no lost gem.)
While looking at Death Wish II, I looked at Death Wish (1974) & noted that Inspector Frank Ochoa, assigned to stop the “Vigilante,” used an inhaler that wasn’t familiar to me. I asked a doctor about it & he had two ideas: “Some of the original Primatene Mist delivery systems looked like what the inspector has—a gray bulb with a plastic conical extension” & “Also the line of DeVilbiss No 41 Pocket Nebulizers looked something like it.”
My money is on the DeVibliss.
Casually, the doctor I queried made an astute observation,
…the inspector is struggling with a bad cold and is using an over-the-counter inhaler, probably with neosynephrine. There were dozens of these in the ‘70s—Oxymetazoline, Ipratropium or one of the other decongestants. There was even one that combined low dose steroid and Neosynephrine. You would use it and get temporary relief and then a rebound congestion which you would again shrink with the decongestant—on and on…. The inspector is just having a recurring problem that makes him feel terrible and for which he seems unable to get more than temporary relief!
That’s exactly the inspector’s situation. The cold he struggles with throughout the film (he frequently snorts nasal spray, reaches for hard candy, etc.—all evidence of some ailment) is a neat symbol for the other chronic problems that face the inspector; specifically the Vigilante, more generally crime. Was this an actor’s decision or in the script or in Brian Garfield’s novel?
[ Screen shot from Death Wish (1974); Inspector Frank Ochoa utilizes a nebulizer. ]