MARY HOSFORD, LEE MARVIN’S MISSOURI TRAVELER COSTAR DIES

Mary Hosford, who’s only film was playing Lee Marvin’s love interest (!) in the largely forgotten film Missouri Traveler, passed away July 19th at the age of 93. If this info slipped under your radar amongst the passing of other more famous celebrity deaths, your not alone. It slipped under mine as well, until I did a google search for something else. There’s a reason she wasn’t heralded as an actress starring with Lee Marvin as his first romantic lead. The biggest reason being she was not known as Mary Hosford for very long, at least not according to this fascinating obituary in The Washington Post.

Poster for The Missouri Traveler (1958).

I knew she had become a Whitney shortly after the film was made, but I had know idea she was such a well known entity among the wealthiest of America’s elite! No wonder they put her one film appearance at the end of the obit.
As to the film itself, it’s one of Lee Marvin’s least remembered and has been in the public domain for decades. Kind of a shame as it’s not a bad little film, actually.
The title character is adolescent Brandon De Wilde, a young runaway at the turn-of-the-century who is sort of adopted by the citizens  of a small town. That is except for Lee Marvin’s character of Tobias Brown, the richest and meanest man in town.
The film plays out like a live-action Disney film, which includes an annoying harmonca on the soundtrack and a few of the vaudevillian type slapstick bits by the supporting cast.

The wonderful veteran ensemble of The Missouri Traveler included (L-R) Frank Cady, Brandon De Wilde, Lee Marvin, Gary Merrill and Paul Ford, as well as the likes of Kathleen Freeman, Ken Curtis, Will Wright and Eddie Little Sky (not pictured).

That aside, Marvin is great as usual and the fight scene and twist ending are very well done. That ending will NOT be given away here, even with a spoiler alert. Just watch it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Lobby card depicting (L-R) Lee Marvin, Brandon De Wilde, Mary Hosford (later Whitney) and Gary Merrill.

As to Marvin’s attitude about the film’s extremely wealthy producer and future husband of Hosford, one Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney? Well, you have to read Lee Marvin Point Blank, as Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin, recounted an anecdote that must be read to be believed and it’s one of my all-time favorites.
– Dwayne Epstein

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MORE MARVIN MOVIE BLOOPERS, PT. 2

More Marvin bloopers for those who might be interested. Last blog entry I mentioned some interesting tidbits that stayed in the final version of both The Big Red One and The Professionals. Here to provide some more Marvin movie bloopers are things left in both Cat Ballou and The Dirty Dozen.
Like most Lee Marvin fans, I had seen both films a plethora of times but was not aware of some of the things left onscreen until I interviewed the participants on these projects for my book, Lee Marvin: Point Blank. For instance, director Elliott Silverstein enlightened me on a scene from Cat Ballou in which Marvin was clearly ‘in his cups.’

Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen confronts his twin brother, Tim Strawn, after his “walk” thru the whorehouse corridor.

Silverstein was quick to point out that it wasn’t really Marvin’s fault as he was called in on a day he was not scheduled to work and was consequently pretty inebriated wen he showed up on set. It was a short scene, the one in which Marvin’s character — in full gunfight regalia — walks comically thru the hallway of a whorehouse in search of his target, his evil twin brother, Tim Strawn.  According to Silverstein:

“Here I was with a guy that could stand up, that’s about it. We put on this heavy costume that we had designed for him, this mock suit of lights with more sliver that could break the back of horse. He stood up at the back of the room, weaving, his eyes blood red and I said, “Lee, you got to go to this door and walk through that door and then that door. I got a metronome here for you that will give the rhythm downstairs. Let’s try it.” Well, needless to say, it was all off. It would not work. While he didn’t stumble, he surely weaved. It was not right for a gunfighter who has gone though the previous scene (not yet shot), getting dressed to kill, mean- eyed focus on killing the bad guy. I couldn’t let that go by so I said, “Lee, let’s try this. I’m going to count for you: 1, 2, 3. Each count you take a step. On 4 open the door. On 5 close the door and I’ll start again as you come diagonally down the corridor towards the camera going from one side of the corridor to the other. [mimes Marvin mumble] “All right, yeah.” He was cooperative. Very benign but he was drunk. Then we tried that. We took about 5 takes, but eventually he pushed through and managed to do that. If you watch that scene closely, you’ll see he lumbers a bit.”

Yours truly, author Dwayne Epstein (left) getting Cat Ballou director Elliot Silverstein to sign my copy of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

 

 

Then there’s that joke comedian Franklyn Ajaye used to tell about the original Star Trek: “I was watching a rerun the other night and noticed a run in Uhura’s stocking. I thought to myself, ‘Damn, I never noticed that the first 273 times I saw this episode.”
I’ve never even come close to watching that many reruns of Start Trek but, movies, that’s another story. Case in point, I’ve lost track of the amount of times that I’ve watched The Dirty Dozen and can quote from it verbatim. That said, my interview with the late, great, Clint Walker, enlightened me to a moment in the film not unlike comedian Ajaye’s observation about Lt. Uhura’s stocking. You know the scene where Lee Marvin makes Walker taunt him with the knife? Well, after talking to Walker, he told me an interesting anecdote about that scene that also got left IN the movie. I then went home, pulled out my nearly worn-out VHS copy and watched it in slow motion. Damn if he wasn’t right as I caught it the minute the scene started! Want to know what it is? Read Lee Marvin Point Blank.  Until then, all the best,
-Dwayne Epstein

“STOP PUSHING!”

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MARVIN MOVIE BLOOPERS, PART 1

Marvin movie bloopers is not a subject I’ve dealt with before but I got the idea for it from the last blog entry I did. When director Buzz Kulik told me the story of Lee Marvin being face down on the courtroom table in Sergeant Ryker and how he left the shot in the movie, it reminded me of similar moments that we either told to me or that I witnessed myself while working on Lee Marvin Point Blank.
For instance, costar Kelly Ward offered a funny anecdote concerning a scene in The Big Red One, in which Lee Marvin kept stumbling over the line, “Nothing but combat rejects on the beach at Colleville-sur-Mer.” Try as he might, he just couldn’t pronounce the name of that little French town. The moment he did finally get it right, it’s not only left in the film, but he does a take to the camera to let everyone know what he thought of that line. It’s in the movie and the details to the story are in my book. Pretty funny, especially the James Coburn reference.

“Psst! Hey, Buddy! Tell me again how to pronounce this French beach, will ya?”

Always fun to look for things left in a movie that has not been noticed before. Another example of a Marvin movie blooper is in The Professionals. Watch one of the dialog scenes in the desert between Marvin and Burt Lancaster and see what the horse is doing in the background. One of my best friends and I had watched the film so many times, he was the one who caught it after multiple viewings and could not stop laughing. We like to think of it as the animal kingdom’s critique of the film before it was released.

“Hey Lee! Look what your horse is doing! Heh, heh.”

That’s pretty much it for now but as Johnny Carson used to say, more to come, such as moments in Cat Ballou and The Dirty Dozen to look for.
– Dwayne Epstein

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