CLINT WALKER’S PASSING ONE YEAR AGO

Clint Walker’s passing occurred a year ago and as such, karma had a say in such things. I was browsing at a used bookstore a day or two ago and came across a copy of SCREEN WORLD 1959, the annual journal of films on a given year. I was missing that particular one so I picked it up, opened it to peruse and came across this page first…..

First page I came to in SCREEN WORLD 1959.

 

Pretty amazing timing considering I came across it almost a year to the day of Clint Walker’s passing. Consequently, he’s been on my mind a lot, lately. At the time of Clint Walker’s passing last year, I did blog about it. Since then, some interesting things have transpired.
To start with, I was most fortunate to meet Walker the first time at the the Beverly Garland Hotel (GREAT lady, by the way) at one of her Hollywood Collector Shows back in the 1990s. He agreed to be interviewed for what eventually would become Lee Marvin Point Blank and his stories on making The Dirty Dozen (1967) and the follow-up of sorts, Small Soldiers (1998), were priceless! His anecdotes on Trini Lopez on both projects are unintentionally hilarious.

Clint Walker tangles with Lee Marvin in THE DIRTY DOZEN.

A few years back I had the idea of interviewing him again, but this time it would be about his entire career for Filmfax Magazine. I discovered the best way to contact him was to connect with Deb Elsie, who handled his online presence. Once we spoke and she then contacted him, I took no small amount of pride, in this exchange from her: “He told me to give you his phone number and in all the years I’ve known him, he’s never told me to give someone his phone number. …..Dwayne, I’m super excited about this!!! Especially since it wasn’t that long ago Clint said he wasn’t interested in doing any more interviews. I know he trusts you and so anything you need, I’m here to help.”
The interview went well, I sent it to Filmfax, and liked the response it garnered upon publication. When it came out, I received much praise from his fans via social media and something I never expected. Author and historian Jeff Thompson read it and contacted me about something Clint Walker had said concerning a TV-move he made for Dan Curtis. Curtis, the creator of the cult TV show Dark Shadows (among MANY other things), was chronicled in several books by Thompson who had not known Walker’s input on the project entitled, Scream of the Wolf, that is until he read my interview. He contacted me….

Original TV Guide ad for Dan Curtis’ SCREAM OF THE WOLF (1974).

“I am finishing up the revised second edition of my first book THE TELEVISION HORRORS OF DAN CURTIS for McFarland. I would like to quote your interview in my book thusly:

Jeff Thompson’s original work on Dan Curtis to be updated and released later this year with quotes from your truly’s interview with Clint Walker.

In a 2017 Filmfax interview, Clint Walker (1927-2018) revealed that he almost did not get the part. He explained, They wanted Jack Palance for it, but he wanted more money, and they didn’t want to pay it. So I said to my agent, “Let me talk to them.” I wanted to be the heavy. I said, “If you get Jack Palance, he’s a very fine actor and all, but people are going to know immediately that he’s the bad guy. With me, they’re not going to think of me in those terms until the last minute.” [Scream of the Wolf] was interesting.”

It just goes to prove you never know how one’s work may be perceived, or for that matter, live on beyond inception. I look forward to seeing Jeff’s book, and when it comes to work living on beyond inception, few have done so as well as the canon of work of Clint Walker. He was often a good guy on small and big screen alike but more importantly, he was a good guy in real life. Farewell Cheyenne.
-Dwayne Epstein

Clint Walker as Cheynne Bodie, The way he would want to be remembered. R.I.P.

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ROBERT ALDRICH: A 100TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE

Robert Aldrich was born one hundred years ago today and we classic movie fans are all the richer for it! Lee Marvin Point Bank readers are familiar with Marvin’s and Aldrich’s working relationship as they made a great film together in almost every decade of Marvin’s career: Attack!, 1956; The Dirty Dozen,1967; Emperor of the North, 1973. In fact, it was almost more than that as Marvin wanted Aldrich to direct Death Hunt (1983), which would have completed the last decade of Marvin’s career.

(L-R) Director Robert Aldrich and costars Lee Marvin & Ernest Borgnine at the initial script conference for THE DIRTY DOZEN.

Probably the most remembered of both of their careers was indeed The Dirty Dozen.
The success of that film catapulted both the actor and the director to rarified heights of fame and success.

Aldrich demonstrates to Lee Marvin how to kick John Cassavetes in THE DIRTY DOZEN.

Marvin got a million dollar paycheck from then on and was a top ten box office sensation for the next decade. Aldrich continued to direct & produce films that may have defied description, but maintained his high level of quality. His signature style, which included a love of characters bordering on the grotesque (Whatever to Baby Jane?, The Grissom Gang, The Choir Boys) and a distinct brilliance at mounting suspense through editing and character anticipation, put him in league with some of the greatest directors of all time.

Case in point: The powerful climax to one of my favorites of his, Flight of the Phoenix, compares perfectly to the scene in which Lee Marvin goads Clint Walker into a knife fight in The Dirty Dozen. Watch the way Aldrich mounts the suspense in Phoenix by building to quicker cuts, showing the stranded characters’ apprehension in hopes of the resurrected airplane’s ability to start up just one more time. Rosaries are prayed on, sweat builds on the nearly dehydrated men, some of whom begin to jump up and down as the audience’s anticipation reaches a pitch. In Dozen, he does the same with mounting edits, sidelong characters laughing and goading the giant Walker to stab Marvin, as M.P. Richard Jaeckel is shown reaching for his sidearm. Both scenes are signatories of Aldrich’s unique style of cinema and it’s a style that is sorely missed in this day of computerized technology.
Aldrich himself may have had the best last word about such things. When Marvin visited Aldrich in the hospital as he lay dying of cancer, Marvin asked him, “Can I get you anything?” The wizened director commented, “Yeah, a better script.”

Robert Aldrich: August 9th, 1918 – December 5th, 1983.

I think that’s something we could all use now.
-Dwayne Epstein

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CLINT WALKER OBITUARY: MAY 30, 1927- MAY 21, 2018

I was not planning on writing up this blog entry but after reading a Clint Walker obituary just now, I was compelled to do so. I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure I got the last interview with ‘The Big Fella’ for a recent issue of Filmfax Magazine. It came out earlier this year and by all accounts, seemed to be a popular read.

On a personal note, it was actually the third time I had interviewed the man. The first time was for his work with Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen for Lee Marvin Point Blank and his insights were eye-opening and hysterical. Next, I spoke with him on his work with Charles Bronson on the same film as well as the strange 1970s western/fantasy White Buffalo. This time around it was much more intimate since the purpose of the interview was focused on HIS career and his career alone. When the official interview was over, we chatted like old friends and he could not have been nicer and more effusive on a one-on-one basis. He asked me about my career, my girlfriend Barbara, we laughed about small similarities in our lives and shared a true bonding over the telephone line. I know he wasn’t in the best of health at the time (he took a tumble down the stairs, recently) but we wished each other both lots of luck for the future year ahead.
And now, just days before his 91st birthday, he has relinquished his mortal coil. I was more than lucky to know him, thanks largely to the amazing help of Deb, Elsie, I was honored. It’s cliche but in truth, we shall never see his like again. Read below our conversation and see for yourself. It’s sort of my own Clint Walker obituary. Farewell ‘Big Fella.’ You will be missed.
– Dwayne Epstein

Filmfax Clint Walker interview, Page 1

Page 2 of Clint Walker FIlmfax interview.

Page 3 of Filmfax Clint Walker interview.

Page 4 of Clint Walker Filmfax interview.

Page 5 of Clint Walker Filmfax interview.

Page 6 of Clint Walker Filmfax interview.

Clint Walker Filmfax interview, Page 7.

Clint Walker Filmfax interview, Page 8.

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