MORE MARVIN MOVIE BLOOPERS, PT. 2

More Marvin bloopers for those who might be interested. Last blog entry I mentioned some interesting tidbits that stayed in the final version of both The Big Red One and The Professionals. Here to provide some more Marvin movie bloopers are things left in both Cat Ballou and The Dirty Dozen.
Like most Lee Marvin fans, I had seen both films a plethora of times but was not aware of some of the things left onscreen until I interviewed the participants on these projects for my book, Lee Marvin: Point Blank. For instance, director Elliott Silverstein enlightened me on a scene from Cat Ballou in which Marvin was clearly ‘in his cups.’

Lee Marvin as Kid Shelleen confronts his twin brother, Tim Strawn, after his “walk” thru the whorehouse corridor.

Silverstein was quick to point out that it wasn’t really Marvin’s fault as he was called in on a day he was not scheduled to work and was consequently pretty inebriated wen he showed up on set. It was a short scene, the one in which Marvin’s character — in full gunfight regalia — walks comically thru the hallway of a whorehouse in search of his target, his evil twin brother, Tim Strawn.  According to Silverstein:

“Here I was with a guy that could stand up, that’s about it. We put on this heavy costume that we had designed for him, this mock suit of lights with more sliver that could break the back of horse. He stood up at the back of the room, weaving, his eyes blood red and I said, “Lee, you got to go to this door and walk through that door and then that door. I got a metronome here for you that will give the rhythm downstairs. Let’s try it.” Well, needless to say, it was all off. It would not work. While he didn’t stumble, he surely weaved. It was not right for a gunfighter who has gone though the previous scene (not yet shot), getting dressed to kill, mean- eyed focus on killing the bad guy. I couldn’t let that go by so I said, “Lee, let’s try this. I’m going to count for you: 1, 2, 3. Each count you take a step. On 4 open the door. On 5 close the door and I’ll start again as you come diagonally down the corridor towards the camera going from one side of the corridor to the other. [mimes Marvin mumble] “All right, yeah.” He was cooperative. Very benign but he was drunk. Then we tried that. We took about 5 takes, but eventually he pushed through and managed to do that. If you watch that scene closely, you’ll see he lumbers a bit.”

Yours truly, author Dwayne Epstein (left) getting Cat Ballou director Elliot Silverstein to sign my copy of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

 

 

Then there’s that joke comedian Franklyn Ajaye used to tell about the original Star Trek: “I was watching a rerun the other night and noticed a run in Uhura’s stocking. I thought to myself, ‘Damn, I never noticed that the first 273 times I saw this episode.”
I’ve never even come close to watching that many reruns of Start Trek but, movies, that’s another story. Case in point, I’ve lost track of the amount of times that I’ve watched The Dirty Dozen and can quote from it verbatim. That said, my interview with the late, great, Clint Walker, enlightened me to a moment in the film not unlike comedian Ajaye’s observation about Lt. Uhura’s stocking. You know the scene where Lee Marvin makes Walker taunt him with the knife? Well, after talking to Walker, he told me an interesting anecdote about that scene that also got left IN the movie. I then went home, pulled out my nearly worn-out VHS copy and watched it in slow motion. Damn if he wasn’t right as I caught it the minute the scene started! Want to know what it is? Read Lee Marvin Point Blank.  Until then, all the best,
-Dwayne Epstein

“STOP PUSHING!”

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LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK: THAT FUNNY FACE YOU MAKE WHEN….

Writing Lee Marvin Point Blank one discovers amazing things, such as ‘That Funny Face You Make When…”  Sorry. I should explain. The man was of course an actor who took his work seriously but he also was someone with a genuinely funny sense of humor. After all, he won his only Oscar for his comedy performance in Cat Ballou, which is a rare achievement in its own right.

Lee Marvin showing his ability to do Shakespeare…or Kid Shelleen in Cat Ballou. Not sure which.

However, despite the majority of his films being action-driven dramas, his sense of humor was a major component of the man and his appeal. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are fully of aware of this aspect of the man both onscreen and off. There are several examples, such as the Robin Hood Party, The Vibrator Salute, Black Helen to the Rescue, and more. Not familiar with those escapades? Read Lee Marvin Point Blank and you will be. But I digress…
I mention this merely to point out what I quickly discovered in my research. I’m currently in the arduous process of archiving all of my research material (more on that later) when I came across some examples of Marvin’s ability to mug for the camera, even late in life, that most of his contemporaries would never even attempt to do. Case in point is the seen image below from the now defunct magazine US Weekly. He was asked about the palimony suit and the results speak for itself. Personally, I like tho think of it as, “That face you make when you learn Donald Trump won the election,” or “Geez, Lee, that’s the worst Robert Morley impression I’ve ever seen.” Feel free to add any interpretation you like. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
– Dwayne Epstein

“What do you mean Donald Trump is president?”

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OTHER SOURCES: JAMES GARNER ON LEE MARVIN

James Garner wrote about Lee Marvin in his 2011 memoir The Garner Files.  Since they never worked together, I never thought to use it as a source for Lee Marvin: Point Blank. However, once I read Garner’s book, I figure his take on Marvin deserves to be recounted here.

The cover of James Garner’s 2011 memoir, THE GARNER FILES.

It’s interesting to note that the TV & movie star belies his easy going charm as his experiences but mostly his point of view are both anything but easygoing. A better word to describe what he writes would be curmudgeonly. Not surprisingly, his cowriter, Jon Winokur, is the author of The Portable Curmudgeon. I get the feeling that Garner sought Winokur out based most likely on that fact. Don’t get me wrong, the book is a great read, mostly for just that reason. His take on his life, work, costars, the culture and society-at-large is a lot of fun. Brett Maverick or Jim Rockford he is not. Well, maybe a little. One minor correction to his comments below. To make his point, he states Lee Marvin’s salary went up to a million dollars a picture after Cat Ballou and he worked less because of it. Not true. Marvin first got a million for Paint Your Wagon and as most fans know he worked a lot after his Oscar winning role. Well, Garner certainly has a right to his opinion and I am a fan of some of his work. It’s just that the facts don’t support his point of view. No matter.
As to his main point about Marvin, of that, I guess he should be taken on his word as others have recounted similar encounters as stated in my book….

“In Hollywood you have to ‘defend you quote’ — keep your fee as high as possible and never accept less. Lee Marvin raised his quote to a million dollars a picture after he won an Oscar for Cat Ballou and had trouble getting parts.
“I never worked with Lee, but I thought that as an actor he was very colorful. As a guy, he was a pain in the ass. He just didn’t care. He was a and drinker. One night in a limousine on our way to a function, he made moves on my wife. That’s a little more than I can handle  and almost decked him.

Garner and his wife, Lois, probably around the time Garner wrote about his encounter with Lee Marvin.

“Anyway, Lee wanted to work but couldn’t take a salary cut. I didn’t want to fall into that trap, so I never let my quote get too high. Actors are paid more than they’re worth anyway.  Producers are idiots for paying the ridiculous prices we ask. We make so much money, the majority of pictures never make a profit. I think movies would be a lot better if more actors waived heir big salaries in order to do worthwhile pictures.
“I don’t think actors today are well served by their agents and managers, who aren’t as good as they used to be. They just want their 10 percent and let their clients do things they shouldn’t. They have one hit and three flops and their careers are over.”

Lee Marvin approximately around the time James Garner knew him.

Oh and for what it’s worth, Garner didn’t like Charles Bronson, either.
– Dwayne Epstein

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