THE ARCHIVES: MY FILMFAX INTERVIEW W/ ROBERT J. GURNEY, JR

Anyone who knows me knows that with precious few exceptions, I am no fan of the science fiction genre. So, with that in mind, I’m the last writer wiling to research, interview, and write up a piece on an unsung Sci-Fi filmmaker. Enter Filmfax Magazine. You never know what you might learn and enjoy being a professional writer and writing for Filmfax is the best example of that. I had recieved a call from the magazine’s publisher, Mike Stein (terrific guy, by the way), telling me such an unsung filmmaker has made his presence known and wanted to speak with Filmfax. It concerned a recent book that had incorrectly stated that Invasion of the Saucer Men was not meant to be a comedy, despite the laughs it garnered from audiences upon its release.
I thought it over, and eventually figured, what the hell, might even be a little enlightening on some level. I was still very much researching  Lee Marvin Point Blank at the time but needed to keep my actually writing chops up. Besides, I needed to pad my resume’ as well as my bank account as best as I could. Keep in mind, this was back in 2002, and my ability to navigate the digital highway, was tenative at best. Any research was done the old-fashioned way, i.e. my local library. Not only had I not heard of Robert J. Gurney, Jr., neither had any of the stalwart genre fanatics I knew personally. The intrigue was rising.
Turns out, Gurney was living in Marina Del Rey and had a voice like a late-night FM  radio announcer with a Southern drawl. Upon meeting with him, I discovered he was a sweet, unassuming, older gentleman with a razor-sharp memory definitely worthy of Filmfax’s auspices, beyond what his valid complaint was. The complaint, by the way, was also a natural lead for the article. Better yet was discovering his life story included eye-opening personal anecdotes with the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Marlon Brando, Roger Corman, AIP’s exectuives Sam Arkoff & Jim Nicholson, a future mutli-Oscar winning cinematographer named Conrad Hall,  and the genesis of some groundbreaking films still in dire need of rediscovery. My favorite example being Gurney’s long-lost late 50s thriller, Edge of Fury. He had a print he had not seen since its release, and because I knew someone who could transfer it to VHS, we were able to watch this strange little thriller together as I took notes on his reactions. Those are the times I love my job. So, posted below, in its entirety, is my eye-opening interview with writer/director/producer and thought-provoking racontuer, Robert Gurney, Jr.
Oh, one more thing. According to Google, at the age of 92, Gurney is still with us, but my contact information for him is long gone. If anybody who reads this knows how to get back in touch with him, please let me know. In the mean time, I give you my cover story interview with Mr. Gurney from Filmfax, 2002. Enjoy…..

Artist Harley Brown rendered the cover art for the Oct/Nov 2002 issue of Filmfax featuring my interview with filmmaker Robert J. Gurney.

Artist Harley Brown rendered the cover art for the Oct/Nov 2002 issue of Filmfax featuring my interview with filmmaker Robert J. Gurney.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 1.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 1.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 2.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 2.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 3.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 3.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 4.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 4.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 5.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 5.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 6.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 6.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 7.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 7.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 8.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 8.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 9.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 9.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 10.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 10.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 11.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 11.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 12.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 12.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 13.

Robert Gurney Filmfax interview, page 13.

-Dwayne Epstein

 

 

Share

THE PROFESSIONALS (1966): ONE OF LEE MARVIN’S BEST

TCM will be airing writer/director Richard Brooks’ The Professionals(1966) today at 8pm EST (5pm PST), one of Lee Marvin’s best and over time, least appreciated films. Within the genre of action films it is without question one of the best of its kind, with several Oscar nominations to its credit to prove it. The dialogue is smart and witty, the plot filled with unexpected twists, the performances are all top notch and the efforts behind the camera are equally impressive. From Conrad Hall’s eye-filling photography to Maurice Jarre’s rousing score, everything clicks.
Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know the depth, challenges and ultimate rewards that went into the film’s production. I was fortunate enough to interview co-stars Woody Strode, Jack Palance, stuntman Tony Epper and production manager Phil Parslow, who have all since passed on. They’re exclsuive tales of making the classic are eye-opening and gvie no small amount of credit to Marvin himself. Whether taking it upon himself to keep the film’s guns clean in the unpredictable desert conditions, or ensuring co-star Woody Strode recieved proper credit, Marvin’s contribution can not be overestimated. So, in honor of its hopeful rediscovery, check out some of the rare graphics below…

(L-R) Title cast members Woody Strode, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster watch unobtrusively as Jack Palance and his revolutioniaries attack a federal troop train.

(L-R) Title cast members Woody Strode, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster watch unobtrusively as Jack Palance and his revolutioniaries attack a federal troop train.

Sweating it out on the film's location in Nevada's Valley of Fire.

Sweating it out on the film’s location in Nevada’s Valley of Fire.

Lee Marvin's opening scene in which, according to producer, Phil Parslow, was the only time he filmed a scene drunk in the entire movie, despite many stories to the contrary.

Lee Marvin’s opening scene in which, according to producer, Phil Parslow, was the only time he filmed a scene drunk in the entire movie, despite many stories to the contrary.

Back when movie theaters offered souvenir programs for certain films, the page highlighting Marvin's background stated in typical ballyhoo fashion that he decided to become an actor while convalescing from his war wounds. LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK readers know better.

Back when movie theaters offered souvenir programs for certain films, the page highlighting Marvin’s background stated in typical ballyhoo fashion that he decided to become an actor while convalescing from his war wounds. LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK readers know better.

Original print ad from the film's pressbook highlighting the film's critical response.

Original print ad from the film’s pressbook highlighting the film’s critical response.

Share