100 best noirs seems like an ambitious undertaking, especially since it has nothing to do with Eddie Muller, the self proclaimed ‘Czar of Noir.” However, a Facebook friend (who shall remain nameless) recently sent me a link to an online magazine article in which the attempt to catalogue the 100 best noir films is done by several writers. Here’s that list and some further thoughts on my own. It’s a thoughtful, fairly well-written piece but as my friend pointed out, it seems to lean heavily on more recent films and less so on more classic noir. It seem to me, that if you’re going to proclaim the 100 best noirs then some of the choices that made the list are either incorrect or just plain bogus. Sorry but Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), the film that made me a huge James Cagney fan is NOT noir. If you put that on the list then all the great 1930s Warner gangster pix should also be included. And why Gaslight(1944), Key Largo(1948) or Miller’s Crossing (1990)? Sorry, all great films but hardly noir. More importantly are the films absent from the list. These are my choices both classic and modern: Act of Violence(1948), On Dangerous Ground (1951) & Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), all three starring the criminally underrated Robert Ryan! Brute Force (1947) Panic in the Streets (1950) The Hustler (1961)
Modern noir? How about these: Serpico (1973) Mean Streets(1973) Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) Cutter & Bone, aka Cutter’s Way(1981)
And since this blog is dedicated to Lee Marvin and as the author of Lee Marvin Point Blank, allow me to ask, where’s this cult favorite remake?
Theatrical poster for the made-for-TV movie (the first!) THE KILLERS, released in theaters worldwide.
Not to brag but I did get to interview many of the costars, including Clu Gulager, Angie Dickinson, Norman Fell and Bob Phillips, all of whom told me great tales concerning this classic noir! Now I ask you, did they miss the boat in the article, or what?! Any of your favorites missing as well? Feel free to comment.
Tucson Arizona, a city with a surprising history of filmmaking (mostly westerns, of course) was also the home to Lee Marvin the last few decades of his life. Recently, I came across an online photo spread of Tucson’s rich celebrity enriched images which can be seen here. If you don’t want to scroll all the way down to find Lee Marvin like I did, here’s the image below…
Original caption: “Sarah Gorby and actor Lee Marvin hold baby javelinas before a fundraising dinner at the Tucson Racquet Club for the Sarah Gorby Wildlife Rehabilitation Fund in 1983.” Anybody know what the hell a javelina is?
Of course, the plethora of film & TV actors captured in photos at work, play and various other venues is certainly worth scrolling through. Pretty impressive as it runs the gamut from the 1950s to today and features everyone from John Wayne (natch!) to Ted Danson! Particular favorites are Groucho Marx and Jayne Mansfeld. The info is intriguing, as well, despite the fact that Jack Lemmon never made a movie called ItHappened One Night (1934) but did costar with June Allyson in a 1956 musical remake called You Can’t Run Away From It. Also, the Paul Newman movie in which he’s getting his boots shined was not Pockey Money (whatever that is!) but Pocket Money(1972), costarring the subject of this blog. Speaking of the subject of this blog, the fact that he did reside in Tucson Arizona played a pretty significant role in my biography of him, Lee Marvin Point Blank finally seeing the light of day. Publisher Tim Schaffner, a Tucson resident himself, was pondering whether to publish my work or not Told me that when he noticed his local video store having a speical on Lee Marvin movies, several folks told him some Lee Marvin stories. Hey, every little bit helps! As for Lee Marvin stories, social media can help in the strangest ways. It didn’t make the book but rocker Brad Brooks had his own interesting tale to tell I wrote about here. He later told me he met the man while he worked delivering water to the Marvin home and the serial rapist was real! Just goes to show ya, you never know where or how Lee Marvin can pop up in the world!
-P.S. Been so busy on other projects I haven’t had time to blog in a while. With that in mind, allow me to wish a wonderful yet belated happy 90th birthday as of September 30th to the legendary Angie Dickinson! She is a class act I was fortunate enough to interview for my book and unpublished selections can be seen here. All the best, Angie! – Dwayne Epstein
Screen grab image from the 1981 interview with Charlie & Lee.
Charlie & Lee, as in Bronson & Marvin, worked together several times in their respective careers but I can’t recall ever seeing them interviewed together..that is until now. Apparently, a local news show out of Fort Worth, Texas on NBC 5 was lucky enough to capture them together back in 1981 as they promote Death Hunt. The interviewer was Bobbi Wygant and she did her homework enough to ask some fairly intelligent questions. Case in point, knowing that they both worked with such legends as Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy early in their careers (Lee in Bad Day At Black Rock with Tracy and Charlie in Pat & Mike as well as The People Against O’Hara), she knowingly asked them to compare the two legends. Marvin was an old pro at such things as he often promoted his latest endeavors on talk shows. Bronson, on the other hand, hated being interviewed and it shows in the way he constantly fiddles with his microphone cord. It’s a shame really as he comes off as intelligent and insightful in his comments. Interestingly, the comments they both make about the location shooting of Death Hunt is in direct conflict to what costar Angie Dickinson told me in Lee Marvin Point Blank. She had talked to Lee about the beautiful locale and his daily response to her is definitely worth reading about. One other thing worth noting. Watch the entire clip below as you see Wygant do something after the interview that is akin to what William Hurt did in the movie Broadcast News (1987) that Albert Brooks discovers and upsets Holly Hunter when she finds out. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the film but it’s certainly worth watching. Bronson and Marvin are still sitting there when Wygant does it which is quite bizarre. So watch below and enjoy!