THE UK TELEGRAPH ON LEE MARVIN RECENTLY

The UK Telegraph, the major newspaper of the United Kingdom, recently published a fairly lengthy article by Martin Chilton focusing mainly on the actor’s singing of “Wandering’ Star” in Paint Your Wagon (1969). The article can be found here and it’s fairly entertaining.
To his credit, writer Martin Chilton uncovered some interesting factoids I was not aware of, such as the quotes from Nelson Riddle’s son, Christopher Riddle, and a few other tidbits.

Famed photographer Bob Willoughby captured Lee Marvin with his infrared lens on location for Paint Your Wagon.

To his discredit, he also got some things obviously wrong. Normally I wouldn’t mind but since the author chose to mention me and my book, Lee Marvin: Point Blank, I think it best to set the record straight, as is my way:

Lee Marvin & Clint Eastwood early in the film also captured by Bob Willoughby.

– Marvin was never, repeat, never in the army. That is the last thing you would ever want to mix-up in the presence of a Marine. Nor are the Marines affiliated with the Navy, as one person commented. The USMC is and always has been an autonomous branch of the U.S. military.
– He also did not have his sciatic nerve severed on Saipan but NEARLY had it severed. The 13 months of convalescence was bad enough but had it been severed, he’d never be able to walk again.
– His entry into theatre wasn’t quite a lark but a calculated stumble into a series of events.
– Betty Marvin, Lee’s first wife, was not trained as an opera singer but trained in musical comedy at UCLA by MGM musical director Roger Edens. The requirements are quite different.
– The photo of Marvin and his costar from The Dirty Dozen misspells Charles Bronson as BROSNAN. Wonder how Pierce feels about that?
I’m rather surprised that the UK Telegraph didn’t bring up the urban legend about Marvin and Captain Kangaroo and revive that old chestnut like a Walking Dead zombie.
Bottom line, as always, if you want the straight, hard, and fascinating facts behind Lee Marvin’s life, career and legacy, read Lee Marvin Point Blank. Then we’ll talk.
– Dwayne Epstein

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IN HONOR OF Pi DAY: THE GREATEST Pi FIGHT EVER!

This being Pi Day I wracked my brain to find a connection to Lee Marvin but the closest I could come up with were the deep-dish apple pies served up in Liberty Valance. Close enough, right?…..I didn’t think so. Instead, I give you images from one of my all-time favorite films which contained probably the all-time greatest pie fight.
The Great Race was a film I didn’t see in theatres, at least not the first time. It aired on TV, in two parts and then years later 5 nghts a week on a local network. I watched it every time, and on the rare occssion it showed up at a revival theatre, I was there, front & center. It wasn’t a great film, but to me and my friends growing up, it was a whole lot of over-the-top, old-fashioned fun with Tony Curtis’s swashbuckling, Peter Falk’s buffoonry, Natalie Wood’s lusciousness and above all, Jack Lemmon’s comedic genius in dual roles. Still a favorite all these years later!
Below, are some wonderful and rare images from the book The Platinum Years by photographer Bob Willoughby. Of all the great coffee table books about movies, I reccomend it above all others. It came out in the 1970s and Willougby’s images from his life as an on set photographer are downright stunning! The images below are just a small example….

Jack Lemmon as Prince Hapnick (giddily shown far left) with Natalie Wood as Maggie Dubois and Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie (both center) assess the damage as the pi fight winds down.

Jack Lemmon as Prince Hapnick (giddily shown far left) with Natalie Wood as Maggie Dubois and Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie (both center) assess the damage as the pi fight winds down.

The havoc of the pie fight near the end of the film is shown above but better than that, this image of director Blake Edwards working on set…..

This rare pic answers that oft-asked question, WHO THREW THAT PIE? Director Blake Edwards is caught in mid-form slamming his star Natalie Wood right in the kisser. At far left,  co-star Jack Lemmon, already nailed, steps out of the scene to admire his director's form.

This rare pic answers that oft-asked question, WHO THREW THAT PIE? Director Blake Edwards is caught in mid-form slamming his star Natalie Wood right in the kisser. At far left, co-star Jack Lemmon, already nailed, steps out of the scene to admire his director’s form.

 

Soupy Sales, The Three Stooges or anybody else you can think of must have cringed with envy at the enormity and huge budget afforded the filmmakers in this pie fight to end all pie fights. Of course, Natalie Wood may have had a different opinion…..

Shown at the end of the scene, Natalie Wood smiles and shows off Blake Edwards' handy work.

Shown at the end of the scene, Natalie Wood smiles and shows off Blake Edwards’ handy work.

Even Jack Lemmon was not immune but then again, playing the villianous Professor Fate, why should he be?

A pie caught in mid-flight lands on its intended target, actor Jack Lemmon, just as he was about to propel two of his own projectiles.

A pie caught in mid-flight lands on its intended target, actor Jack Lemmon, just as he was about to propel two of his own projectiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These terrific images are but a small sample of what fun can be had on this once-in-a-lifetime National Pi Day. It must be said that in order to stay within the spirit of this blog, one must simply ask the question, who would you least want to get a pie in the kisser from and how would he throw it? The answer is of course, Lee Marvin: Point Blank.

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IN MEMORY OF ROD TAYLOR, MY COMPLETE 1995 INTERVIEW

Sadly, the ranks continue to thin as we recently lost the great and shamefully underrated, Rod Taylor. Since he had worked with Lee Marvin in Raintree County, I was fortunate enough to secure and interview with him back in July of 1995. Most of the wonderful anecdotes he told me went into the text of Lee Marvin: Point Blank, but in tribute to him, I’ve reposted the entire interview below, complete and unedited. The reason is simple. He was a genuinely nice guy who had no illusions, ego or airs about himself, or the amazing work that he did. I think that shows in the transcript below so I’ll allow his words to speak for him. Rest in Peace, Mr. Taylor. We shall not see your like again…..

Initial script reading for Raintree County with from the left: Screenwriter Millard Kaufman, Lee Marvin, director Edward Dymtryk, Eva Marie Saint, Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, producer David Lewis, and costars Jarma Lewis, Nigel Patrick and Rod Taylor.

Initial script reading for Raintree County with from the left: Screenwriter Millard Kaufman, Lee Marvin, director Edward Dymtryk, Eva Marie Saint, Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, producer David Lewis, and costars Jarma Lewis, Nigel Patrick and Rod Taylor.

Dwayne: Thanks for getting back to me. I really, appreciate it.
Rod: I wanted to apologize again for not getting back to you sooner but the fucking note pad that had your number on it got misplaced somewhere.
D: Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry I had to run this morning but you started to tell me some anecdotes about working with Lee Marvin.
R: Yes, well like I said, I don’t know how much help I can be because I don’t remember that much. I do have some interesting anecdotes about working with Lee. He had a great sense of humor.
D: Almost everybody I’ve spoken to has said that to me. He must have been something.
R: (Laughs) Yeah, well Lee, and I, used to say we must have had a fucking ball because we don’t remember a thing.
D: I’m guessing you guys must have imbibed a time or two.
R: Those were the days when you could drink like that and still function the next day for work. What was the name of that musical he made?
D: Paint Your Wagon?
R: Yes. He told me he didn’t remember making the entire film. He even sang a song with a monotone. He didn’t remember a thing about it.
D: You worked with him on Raintree County. I know there was lot of problems on that but do you remember what it was like working with him then?

Rod Taylor as Garwood P. Jones & Lee Marvin as Orville "Flash" Perkins

Rod Taylor as Garwood P. Jones & Lee Marvin as Orville “Flash” Perkins

R: Well, the problems were because of Monty Clift’s terrible accident. The studio wanted to make a big budget return to an old type of movie. When you called I was trying to think of some stories and I do remember this one time when we shooting in Kentucky. Monty was with Liz taking their time on a scene working so the rest of us weren’t really needed. Lee and I and another actor, a British actor named Nigel Patrick..
D: He played the Professor.
R: Wow, what a memory. Anyway we were floating down this murky backwater swamp with a still photographer named Bob…
D: Willoughby.
R: Now how the fuck did you know that?
D: He published a book of his work called “The Platinum Years.”
R: He lives in Ireland now if you want to reach him. I think there’s a publicist named Jim Mahoney who knows how to contact him.
D: I’ve been in touch with him. He used to be Lee Marvin’s publicist.
R: Yeah, he was mine, too. He would know how to reach him. Anyway, so Lee and I with Nigel and Bob went on this picnic. Now I’m from Australia and have some knowledge about waters and what not. Bob accidentally dropped this very expensive camera into the water. Everyone looked to the fucking swimming champ. I jumped into this murky water to look for the camera. I looked and looked. Nothing. Lee put down his tall, frosty mint julep, cut through the water like a knife and brought up the camera as if guided by the hand of god while I sputtered and choked on the swamp water.
D: That’s amazing. How did he get along with everyone?
R: Oh, he got along fine. The thing you had to appreciate about him was his sense of humor. He had a great sense of humor but it could be very caustic because it was based on total honesty. I used to work over at Revue and I would see him there becuase he did a show, what was it “M-Squad”? It later became Four Star when David Niven built it. That’s where I made The Time Machine.
D: I love that movie. That’s one of my favorite movies from my childhood.
R: Yeah, it’s held up well over the years.
D: Do you remember any examples of his humor?
R: Not off hand, unfortunately. There was a story you may have heard because it’s been around so long.
D: You never can tell. Which story is it?
R: Somebody, I think it was a casting director asked him what he had done lately. This casting director asked Marvin, “What have you done lately?,” and Marvin responded immediately, “About what?”
D: (Laughing) That’s a great line.
R: That’s the  kind of sense of humor he had.
D: How did he get along with Montgomery Clift?
R: Well, to tell you the truth, they didn’t work that much. I think he felt like I did and felt sorry for him. Lee didn’t socialize much with him. I did that and I was the one who had dinner with him and got mashed potatoes thrown in my hair.
D: Yeah, I heard that Clift did some really bizarre things. Did they get along? I ask because I know they had several scenes together…
R: Lee got along with everybody. People respected Lee for his honesty, his acting ability and he was his own man.

On location in Danville, Kentucky are from the left: Rod Taylor, Nigel Patrick, director Edward Dmytryk (standing), Elizabth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Agnes Moorehead and Walter Abel.

On location in Danville, Kentucky are from the left: Rod Taylor, Nigel Patrick, director Edward Dmytryk (standing), Elizabth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Agnes Moorehead and Walter Abel.

D: Do you remember the last time you saw him?
R: Well, I didn’t see him much but I think I saw him in Malibu after the break up of his marriage and that whole mess. I took Lee’s side so I didn’t talk to Betty.
D: Did he ever talk to you about that?
R: Lee understood that to be a private matter and kept it private so I never asked. I know he moved to Arizona when he was smoking too much. But I didn’t see him much after that.
D: One last question. Do you know anybody else I can contact for a possible interview?
R: Have you spoken to Toshiro Mifune?
D: No, But I’d love to.
R: Mifune loved Lee. I had heard a story but it’s third person so you would have to get it confirmed. During Hell in the Pacific, when Lee was up in the tree and was supposed to pee on him, Mifune wouldn’t do the scene unless Marvin really pissed on him. Wouldn’t use water or a double. He told Lee to go drink some beer and come back to do the scene.
D: (Laughs) I know some people who would pay good money for that now. Hugh Grant comes to mind. I’m sorry, that’s a cheap joke.
R: That’s okay. I’ll tell you somebody else you can talk to.The guy who does that show “Walker, Texas Ranger.” He’s a real fucking asshole, though, nothing but ego.
D: Chuck Norris? Yeah, I’ve heard that but it’s part of the job. I’ve talked to all kinds of people. I don’t have a problem with that. I also just remembered something. I read that you worked with Paul Newman in The Rack. Is that true or is that a misprint?
R: No, that’s a misprint. I did audition for Somebody Up There Likes Me. They thought I was a Brooklyn kid.
D: Well, you pulled the accent off well in The Catered Affair. That’s also a favorite movie of mine.
R: Thank you very much. You really are a movie fan.
– END.
-Dwayne Epstein

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