KILLIN’ GENERALS UPDATE

Killin’ Generals update indeed! I had previously mentioned on this blog that my latest project concerns the making of The Dirty Dozen (1967) and as promised, here’s some great news about its progress.

Montage of images from the one, the only, the original, THE DIRTY DOZEN.


As many of you know since The Dirty Dozen came out over 50 years ago, not many of those involved in the production are still around. However, I did get an interview and some rare photos with the film’s 94 year old producer Ken Hyman. Also I spoke with actress Dora Reisser (she played the fraulein Telly Savalas killed) who was very insightful about her role in the film. I’ve also spoken with several of the adult children of cast members who shared there own exclusive memories of their father’s work on the film.

Telly Savalas & Dora Reisser as they appeared in THE DIRTY DOZEN.



Best of all (drum roll), as of this week, 87-year-old Donald Sutherland responded to my interview request with some wonderful and exclusive anecdotes. Great news, doncha think?
 The best part is I have in my archival research interviews conducted with several others involved in the film who are no longer with us. They include the likes of Clint Walker and Bob Phillips. Phillips had an extraordinary history besides playing the role of Cpl. Morgan. Best of all, he was hired to ‘babysit’ Lee Marvin during production and although some of what he told me can be read in my bio Lee Marvin Point Blank, the majority of what he stated remains exclusively untold …..until now! Publication is Father’s Day, 2023.
 There’s still more to come in terms of the exclusive research I have been gathering, but for this Killin’ Generals update should suffice for now. So, until the next time, happy Easter and happy Passover to one and all. Or, As Dirty Dozen director Robert Aldrich used to say, “Onward and upward!”
– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button

100 BEST NOIRS…..AHEM!

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.

– Dwayne Epstein 

Share Button

GAY ICONS

Gay icons exist in the movies and two of the most well-known worked with Lee Marvin. Since June is Gay Pride month (which not so coincidentally is also a theme on TCM for the month) I thought it a good time to comment on Marvin’s work with these two prominent gay icons. It’s important to keep in mind that at the time of these two actors’ greatest popularity their sexual orientation was NOT known, as it would have meant professional suicide. This fact of course allowed them to become major stars and sex symbols to their admiring fans.
First up, Rock Hudson, an often mediocre actor at best but a wonderful and legendary light comedian with a charming air when most befuddled. Marvin’s films with Hudson were not memorable in and of themselves but they certainly helped his career. Released in 1953, Gun Fury and Seminole both top-lined Hudson in rather bland performances. Something, in my opinion, that was often the case with him in dramas, with the sole exception being the riveting performance he gave in Seconds (1966). Gun Fury was released in 3-D and allowed Marvin to put on his resume’ that he worked with the great Raoul Walsh as well as a friendship with Leo Gordon. Other than that…

Seminole, on the other hand, actually had scenes in which Marvin and Hudson interacted — albeit, briefly — throughout the movie.

(L-R) Lee Marvin as Sgt. Magruder and Rock Hudson as Lt. Lance Caldwell in Budd Boetticher’s SEMINOLE.

It was simply another programmer for Hudson, but for Marvin it meant working with cult director Budd Boetticher for the first time, who would go on to cast Marvin in Seven Men From Now (1956), one of the actor’s best performances. What did Marvin think of working with Hudson in the overtly macho period films? I have no idea. I do know, however, that for a man of his generation, he had some surprisingly forward-thinking ideas on the subject of homosexuality that he expressed in Playboy Magazine.
As to other gay icon, that would be Montgomery Clift, the legendary Method actor who’s tragic life Marvin witnessed firsthand.

Lee Marvin (left) and RAINTREE COUNTY costar Montgomery Clift photographed by Bob WIlloughby.

Marvin had gone on record as not being a fan of Method actors as a rule yet ironically, he claimed two of the best actors he ever encountered were Marlon Brando (when he cared) and Clift. Raintree County (1957) was the film he made with Clift and was also the film in which Clift suffered a disfiguring car accident early into the production.

(L-R) Lee Marvin and Montgomert Clift as ‘Bummers’ during the Civil War scene in Raintree.

Marvin’s performance in the film is one of his best while Clift is naturally just painful to watch, no matter how hard he tried. That aside, Marvin had his own theory on the accident’s cause which will not be expressed here, as it is strictly hearsay. Luckily, the tragedy of Clift’s forced hidden sexuality and disfiguring car accident does not hamper his legacy as a superb actor, thanks to his many extraordinary film performances.
As to the Gay community in general, Marvin had several run-ins with members of the community on a personal level. One such encounter was hilariously retold to me by Marvin’s friend and costar Bob Phillips and concerns Marvin’s dedication to the USMC. Another concerned one of his children and both tales can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank. So happy Pride, dear readers, and remember, Gay Icons may be everywhere but on film, they are often legendary.

– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button