LEE MARVIN & THE “DOG DAY” OF SUMMER

The dog day of summer is undeniably upon us from coast to coast, with east of the Rockies taking the brunt of it all. We in California finally caught up with the rest of the country with some now record-breaking temperatures.
Yeah, I know, Dog Day should be plural, as in DOG DAYS, but that would disallow the subject of the blog: a segue to one of Lee Marvin’s last and strangest film: the weird French film named Dog Day (1984), or Canicule in France, its country of origin.

Lee Marvin as Jimmy Cobb in DOG DAY, looking classier than anything found in the movie.

It’s axiomatic that every good actor has some bad films in their canon and that no one ever sets out to make a bad film. Both axioms apply to this film. In researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, I was hard pressed to find any information on the film, let alone any one to interview about it. I did make a concerted effort to contact the only other American cast member, Tina Louise, but try as I might, she wouldn’t grant me an interview. Probably just as well as considering the film’s reception.

American co-stars Lee Marvin and Tina Louise in her only scene in France’s DOG DAY.

It was never released to U.S. theaters and went straight to the VHS shelf…in the $1.99 bargain bin, I might add.
What’s it about? Marvin is Jimmy Cobb, an aging American gangster on the run after a botched bank robbery in Paris. He holes up in a French farmhouse in which resides the weirdest group of people this side of the Addams family. Being a European production, the film’s sensibilities, compared to American films are, shall we say..slightly askew?

The European sensibilities of DOG DAY are on full display. When was the las time you saw a child (TIN DRUM’s David Bennent)  smoke a cigarette in an American film?

In all fairness, there are some noteworthy aspects to the film. A heart stopping car chase courtesy of legendary stunt driver Remy Julienne in the film’s opening is probably the best example. Marvin, of course looks the part as an aged American gangster nicknamed “Caponie” by annoying child actor David Bennent…And there’s also….no, that’s really about it. Other French film stars, such as Miou-Miou, Victor Lanoux, and Jean Carmet really don’t add much to this embarrassment. Of course, if you like your Eurotrash more on the trashy side than the Euro, then this might be right up your alley. I think this is best summed up in the anecdote Marvin recounted to the L.A. Times when the film was in production. Talk about an omen! Feel free to check it out below and in the mean time, stay cool. Curl up with the air conditioner and a good book…say, Oh, I don’t know….Lee Marvin Point Blank?
– Dwayne Epstein

Lee Marvin discusses DOG DAY, among other things.

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