AWARD SEASON THEN & NOW

Award season is upon us and the majors have already begun with the Golden Globe Awards. Oscar nominations came out earlier this week and the the other guild and critic awards are looming large. Much has changed from the days when Lee Marvin won his only Oscar for Cat Ballou back in the mid-60s.

Lee Marvin backstage after winning his Oscar.

For one thing, the amount of competing awards could be counted on one hand. There wasn’t much beyond the Oscars and Golden Globes. The plethora of guilds and critics organizations had yet to boast of award shows that would ultimately make the Oscars anti-climatic as there are now, with or without a wisecracking host. Matter of fact, when Marvin won his Oscar, he was as surprised as anybody since the odds-on favorite was Rod Steiger for his work in The Pawnbroker. The entire episode of Marvin’s win is covered extensively, of course, in Lee Marvin Point Blank, including some nefarious behind-the-scenes machinations that even Marvin himself was not aware of.

Julie Andrews and Lee Marvin accepting their Golden Globes for being the most popular stars of 1967, which is no longer a category.

What got me thinking about these differences in the award season of days gone by and the ones of today, is an article I read online in which an Academy member bemoans the advent of streamers, screeners, and the like and the effect it has on the season itself. It can be read here but the point is laughable. Bottom line is just that there are too damn many awards shows! Want proof? I’m going to go out on limb and make my own predictions of this year’s Oscar winners as shown below. Feel free to check back after the show to see how right I was. There are:

Best Picture: 1917.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker.
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger for Judy.
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern for Marriage Story.

What’s my criteria? They’ve already won every other award leading up to the Oscars. Talk about anti-climatic! Somewhere Lee Marvin is laughing his war-wounded ass off.
– Dwayne Epstein

Share

A DIRTY DOZEN REMAKE IS IN THE WORKS

A Dirty Dozen remake is apparently in the works, according to breaking news in Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood. Such pronouncements have been made in the past over the years but the urgency in which this has been green lighted by Warner Brothers is of worthy attention.  Of course, in retelling the info about the original, contemporary Hollywood beat writers got some obvious facts wrong, especially Mike Fleming of Deadline Hollywood, but more on that later.

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

The man behind the project, David Ayers, has an interesting resume’ as I consider his script for Training Day (2001) to be as impressive as Denzel Washington’s Oscar winning performance. Although known mostly for Suicide Squad (2016), Ayers has also made the WWII-era tank drama Fury (2014) with Brad Pitt so I gave him a lot or room to be judged in terms of a Dirty Dozen remake.

Here’s  what I consider the intriguing part. All articles state the remake will be “updated” from it’s WWII-era roots. “Updated” to what? Korea? Vietnam? Afghanistan? Iraq? WHAT? With Ayers resume’ of other dark police dramas, maybe it’s not a war film at all. Perhaps a bunch of convicts will be released to wreak havoc on the south central street gangs of Los Angeles….except I think that’s been done before, too. Bad enough the same studio is allowing Mel Gibson to remake The Wild Bunch (1969).

And the infuriating faux pas of the Deadline Hollywood article? I’m calling out the author, Mike Fleming on this. The one person in the cast NOT listed alphabetically in the credits or  in the ads, in other words, the star of the film IS NOT EVEN MENTIONED WITH THE REST OF THE CAST! For shame, Mr. Fleming. In case you didn’t know, his name is LEE MARVIN, the subject of my book and this blog, Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Oh, and Donald Trump was impeached today.

  • Dwayne Epstein
Share

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD….THERE WAS ALSO LEE MARVIN

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the latest opus from favorite contemporary filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, was anxiously awaited by yours truly like a kid awaits the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. Seriously. Everything I had read and seen about it had me practically drooling in anticipation. Then I watched it.

(L-R) Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth and Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton leaning against the facade of Hollywood’s famed Egyptian Theater.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad picture, at all. It’s just that I guess my anticipation of it, had me expecting  more.
There’s also much to recommend. My family and I moved to California from New York in 1968 so I’m familiar with what the southern California scene of 1969 was like in those days. Tarantino’s re-creation of that time and place is something to marvel at throughout the film. Whether it’s the bus benches advertising Hobo Kelly, or the brief TV moment showing late night L.A. horror host Seymour, it brought back nostalgic childhood memories for yours truly.
Most of the performances in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood are also uniformly excellent. A true standout is Brad Pitt as the laconic stunt double and gopher to Leonardo DiCaprio’s fading TV star.
I say ‘most’ performances as some of them are downright strange. The film is peppered with cameos of real-life individuals and some are just strange. An actor playing Bruce Lee challenges Pitt to a fight in one of my favorite scenes and one of the most controversial in its portrayal of the legendary martial artist.
In another sequence, British Actor Damian Lewis makes a brief appearance as Steve McQueen at a party at the Playboy Mansion in a performance that can best be described as bizarre. While there is a resemblance, in speaking with McQueen biographer Marshall Terrill, we both agreed that the speech pattern Lewis invokes is just plain weird. He may have been trying to mask his British accent but the result is nothing like McQueen. Bizarre.
So, what is it about the film that received a six minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Cannes Film festival that I have a problem saying that it’s truly great? Simply put, the main character played by DiCaprio is just not worthy of much sympathy and being the central focus of the film, it’s the key factor keeping me from loving the film. Hate to say it but it’s true.
I won’t give away any more as I hate when writers do that sort of thing. Suffice to say, I’ll probably see it on DVD, if only to see again my Lee Marvin Point Blank interview subject, Clu Gulager as an aging Westwood bookstore owner. Until then, I wonder why such a big Lee Marvin fan as Tarantino left Lee Marvin out of the film when he was big box office in 1969. How big?  Check out Lee Marvin Point Blank to find that out. In the mean time….
-Dwayne Epstein

Share