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

Share

THE DIRTY DOZEN IN THE FILMS OF THE SIXTIES

Long gone, the publishing company Citadel Press put out of series of books as “The Films Of..” which focused on actors, genres, directors and decades, with The Films of The Sixties being a prime example. Written by Douglas Brode and published in 1980, it contains a series of essays chosen by the author in chapters broken down by each year within the decade. Brode was one of the better writers in Citadel’s stable and his insight into a given film is highly perceptive. That’s the good news about this title. The bad news is   in the amount of information he got wrong, either by misinformation or by omission.  By omission it can be stated that he includes only two Lee Marvin films in his assessment, The Professionals and The Dirty Dozen. Since the book came out in 1980, the cult status and influence of Point Blank was well enough established to have included in the book, as well as several others.

The cover of the Citadel Press book, THE FILMS OF THE SIXTIES by Douglas Brode.

When researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, I perused all available sources but was left wanting by Brode’s essay on the film. Why, you may ask? Well, the essay is below but here’s what to look for in terms of what went wrong.
-Donald Sutherland may be complimented to be referred to as intellectual but he’s certainly not English. He was born and raised in Canada and his character, Vernon Pinkley is neither Southern nor retarded. Slow-witted maybe, but his standout scene inspecting Robert Ryan’s troops shows him to be anything but retarded.
– Jim Brown’s character of R.T. Jefferson (Napoleon White in the novel) has good reason to be anti-white but Trini Lopez was certainly not his character’s Puerto Rican sidekick. Brown’s sidekick in the film is clearly Charles Bronson’s character.
– Although it’s a point that’s open to interpretation, Maggot’s murder of the young German girl is hardly on par with the inceneration of german officers and their civilian female counterparts.
– The author even misspelled Telly Savalas’ TV alter ego, Theo Kojak. Oy!
His overall assessment of the film and its importance is on the money, but the wince-inducing mistakes left me cold. This month being the 50th anniversary of The Dirty Dozen’s release, I invite you read for yourself the essay written on the film’s impact….

Page 1 of Douglas Brode’s DIRTY DOZEN essay.

Page 2 of DIRTY DOZEN essay.

Conclusion of DIRTY DOZEN essay.

Share

WEIRD LEE TV MOST FANS MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT

Since TV as a medium has expanded in immeasurably weird ways over the past few years, here are some equally weird and lesser known TV appearances….with Mr. Marvin, of course, that might best be described as weird Lee TV.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, when Lee was at his most popular, not many big movie stars appeared on TV, unless it was a talk show appearance to plug a film. Lee did that too, but he was also not above appearing fairly regularly on say the odd Bob Hope comedy special. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know that he was about to walk on stage of The Flip Wilson Show when he was hit with the Palimony Suit that made headlines through out the 70s. Just one of the many weird Lee facts one can discover in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Lee Marvin with Bob Hope in the early 70s on one of the legendary comedians many TV specials for NBC.

If the concept of Marvin appearing on a Bob Hope Special seems difficult to wrap one’s head around, imagine seeing him make an appearance on the old Ed Sullivan show! He did, believe it or not, following the release of Paint Your Wagon. Since it was released successfully as a single, he sang ‘Wanderin’ Star’ backed by the Harvard Glee Club. Not surprisingly, he also went out and got soundly drunk afterward.

Hamming it up in a 70s sketch with Bob Hope and Pat Boone.

It would be hard to imagine some of his contemporaries, such as Marlon Brando or Charles Bronson, being willing to do such antics, yet, Marvin did it with gusto. In fact, his turn as gangster ‘Mad Dog’ Marvin on a Bob Hope show is especially hilarious. I don’t think the same could ever be said of Brando or Bronson.
Marvin was also not above other TV appearances, such as hosting and narrating a documentary on the Marines in WWII, or another documentary focusing on American ingenuity.
Possibly the strangest of all, especially since he was a major boxoffice star at the time, was this one from 1977, just in time for the holiday season of TV specials. Personally, I would have loved to have seen the tribute to the banjo as pictured in the ad below. Now THAT would be something to see……

Old TV Guide ad promoting a Gene Kelly variety show special featuring…wait for it… Lee Marvin!

 

Share