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 when 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 Star 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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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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