LISA RYAN, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT RYAN & A WONDERFUL SURPRISE

Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, has recently been back in touch with me. You may recall, that a while back she gave me permission to post our talk about her father. She also gave me one of my favorite stories about the making of The Dirty Dozen (1967) which of course went into Lee Marvin Point Blank that just has to be read to be appreciated!
Well, after discovering the documentary Rick Spalla did on Lee Marvin, which included an interview with her father, I just naturally had to let her know about it. We reconnected conversationally and she told me that due to the pandemic, she had been in the midst of decluttering her belongings when she made an interesting discovery. Among her treasures were a series of photos taken on the set of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh of the entire cast! She not only sent the scans of them to me, she gave me permission to post them here on my blog.
Lee Marvin Point Blank readers know that I was fortunate enough to interview director John Frankenheimer, costar Jeff Bridges and several others who told me great stories about the making of the rarely seen gem. However, these images say just as much. The photographer went simply by the name “Orlando” and obviously by the signatures these were all meant for Robert Ryan’s personal collection…..

Lee Marvin as Hickey: “To Robert Hit’em again Lee”

The sitting with Lee Marvin was apparently part of the film’s publicity as this now defunct magazine cover shows…

 

 

When all is said and done, Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, came thru with a wonderful surprise. So, without further ado, I give you classic images from THE ICEMAN COMETH…..

Fredric March as Harry Hope: “To Robert Ryan God Bless — always Fredric March 1973”

Jeff Bridges as Don Parritt: “Bob — Acting and especially knowing you, has been very special, Jeff Bridges”

Director John Frankenheimer: “Bob with admiration and grand thanks  John Frankenheimer”

Bradford Dillman as Willie Oban: “Bob — O’Neill has been kind to both of us and you have been especially kind to him! Cheers!
Brad Dillman”

Sorrell Booke as Hugo Kalmar: “Dear Bob – Don’t be a fool
Buy me a drink
Love
Sorrell Booke”

Hilda Brooks as Margie

Juno Dawson as Pearl: “Dear Bob,
Lovely working with you!
Love,
Juno”

Evans Evans (Mrs. Frankenheimer) as Cora: “Dear Bob,
With love,
Evans”

Martyn Green as ‘The Captain’: “From one old soak to another,
It’s been fun, Bob!
Martyn”

 

 

Moses Gunn as Joe Mott (unsigned).

John McLiam as Jimmy Tomorrow: “Dear Bob,
You are the kindest man among us,
John McLiam”

Stephen Perlman as Chuck Morello: “Bob – Looking forward to seeing The Master Builder [???] Stephen Pearlman”

Tom Pedi as Rocky Pioggi: “To Robert Ryan,
Tom Pedi”

 

Obviously, not all of the cast members are pictured here. Notably absent are Clifton James (“Pat McGloin”), George Voskovec (“The General”), and most obvious of all, Robert Ryan (“Larry Slade”). Fortunately, Lisa was able to find the following cast photos (seen below  after all the individual portraits) that does indeed include her father and the rest of the entire cast….

Cast & crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH with individual signatures.

An ever better view is the following close-up images….

Cast and crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH in close-up.

(L-R) Tom Pedi, Evans Evans, Stephen Perlman, unidentified, Moses Gunn, John McLiam (seated), Jeff Bridges, Fredric March, George Voskovec (seated), John Frankenheimer, Clifton James (seated), Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Juno Dawson & Hildy Brooks (seated), Martyn Green & Bradford DIllman (seated).

Finally, since this was graciously donated by the daughter of Robert Ryan, I’ve taken the liberty to include this poignant tribute to her father from the film’s playbill written by L.A. Times film critic, Charles Champlin…

Charles Champlin’s tribute to Robert Ryan.

And so there you have it: Some rare and fitting tributes to an underrated classic and a legendary postwar actor desperately worthy of rediscovery. Lisa Ryan, I am forever in your debt. Stay safe, everyone!
– Dwayne Epstein

 

 

 

 

 

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SERGEANT RYKER: WHAT YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW

Sergeant Ryker was a 1968 theatrical release for Lee Marvin but if you think it looks like it was made a few years earlier, you would be right. It’s just one of several aspects of this strangely intriguing, yet at the same time, run-of-the-mill production.

Cover art for SERGEANT RYKER’s VHS release, borrowed from the theatrical release.

Why does it ‘look’ like it was made earlier? The original production was a 1963 two-part TV episode pilot of the Kraft Theatre originally titled The Case Against Paul Ryker, which is an infinitely more apt title than the theatrical title or the poster above. By 1968, Marvin was already grayer, craggier, and an Oscar-winning superstar. Making a film with such a macho sounding title sounded like a sure bet at the box-office. Only problem was it was a court-room drama, NOT a macho war movie.
To be fair, it’s TV-movie trapping aside, it’s a well done story. Marvin is Ryker, already found guilty of conspiring with the enemy  — in this case the North Koreans — and is awaiting the hangman. New evidence may prove his claim of being on a secret mission behind enemy lines to be true, but the only officer who knew of the mission has died. A new trial is ordered and the truth may or may not finally come out. It begs the question, is Ryker an unrecognized hero or an undeniable traitor?  Cool premise, huh?
The production boasts a terrific ensemble for its day, including Vera Miles as Ryker’s wife, the criminally underrated Bradford Dillman as Ryker’s lawyer, Peter Graves as the prosecutor, Murray Hamilton as a sleazy associate, venerable Lloyd Nolan as Dillman’s commanding officer and the always less than cheerful Norman Fell as a put-upon corporal.
Those are the plusses. On the minus side of the ledger, the production values are strictly from hunger. Even as a 1963 TV show it looks pretty bad. I can’t imagine what it must have looked like on the big screen. It’s style is so nondescript, costar Norman Fell didn’t even remember being in it when I asked him about it back in the 1990s.
He did, however, remember a similar project that was made for TV but later released theatrically. He worked with Marvin in The Killers and he is quoted extensively about it in Lee Marvin Point Blank, THAT was a much more memorable experience, as far as he was concerned.
Pity the poor moviegoer of 1968 who wanted to see Lee Marvin in a ‘new’ release with a typical “rock-em-sock-em” sounding title like Sergeant Ryker, only to be treated to a TV courtroom drama (!)

A page from the SERGEANT RYKER pressbook in which Universal attempted to promote the project cinematically.

 

There is one other interesting aspect to the film if one ever gets around to watching it. Veteran director Buzz Kulik told me a great anecdote concerning Lee Marvin and the filming of the project. It didn’t make the cut as far as my book was concerned, but was brought to life on the pages of this blog a while ago.

Screen capture of Lee Marvin (head on desk) with Bradford Dillman from that ‘moment” Buzz Kulik described.

The advent of home video, cable TV, and now other digital media platforms, makes the likelihood of such a phenomenon near impossible today, thankfully. However, the sense of being ripped-off by Hollywood on occasion may never go away. I point to the plethora of superhero moves being cranked out as a prime example.
Want to know about some other less than savory doings that took place behind the scenes during the 1960s and 1970? There’s the time the time Lee Marvin was duped by a gay producer for starters. For that read Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

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