LUMP-IN-THE-THROAT MOMENTS: TWILIGHT ZONE’s STEEL

As I wrote in Lee Marvin Point Blank, the actor proved to be more versatile on TV than he ever was on film so consequently, moments of genuine poignancy proved less elusive on the small screen with several ‘Lump-in-the-throats moments, with one in particular coming to mind; A Twilight Zone episode he appeared in back in 1963 that still resonates today.
Episode was “Steel, written by Richard Matheson and based on his short story. It’s one of Marvin’s best performance and given in less than a half hour’s time. It takes place in the near future with boxing outlawed due to its inherent brutality. Replaced by battling robots, former boxer ‘Steel’ Kelly (Marvin) and his partner Pole (Joe Mantell) have trundled their broken down robot, Battling Maxo, into town for his next bout. The problem is Maxo, like Kelly, has fought too many fights, so Kelly decides to go in the ring as a robot against the formidable robot opponent, The Maynard Flash.

Lee Marvin’s Steel Kelly disguised as ‘Battling Maxo” with Joe Mantell as his partner, Polo.

The viewer is obviously pulling for Kelly but the result is inevitable. Watching Marvin throughout the episode is an exercise in textbook poignancy. Whether witnessing his empty boasts of his prior career, or seeing him writhing in pain on the floor near the episode’s climax, his character elicits the same emotion as Death of Salesman’s Willie Loman. He is tragic, but he never gives in to the tragedy of his own situation, making him all the more torturous to watch.
Author Steven Jay Rubin’s new book, The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia garnered some major exclusives about the show and the Steel episode in particular.

Steven Jay Rubin’s excellent new book, THE TWILIGHT ZONE ENCYCLOPEDIA.

 

 

Most notably, an interview with the actor who portrayed Marvin’s robotic opponent, The Maynard Flash.  Former boxer and stuntman Chick Hicks stated to Rubin:
“I knew Lee Marvin for a long time, and he was a real man and a great guy. During the fight scenes, while filming I had two pieces of plastic over my eyes [to make me look like a robot] and I was pretty new to the business, so instead of putting little holes in them, so that I could have some air in there, I sweated and I was just looking at a blur most of the time, and I ended up hitting Lee a couple of times but the tough Marine that he was never complained.

‘Steel’ Kelly (Lee Marvin) taking some real punches as Battling Maxo from the more advanced Maynard Flash (Chuck Hicks) in The Twilight Zone.

He always would say, ‘Don’t worry abut it, Chuck. I know your problem.’ Yeah, he was a drinker, but a real great man underneath that plastic and skin.”
By the way, I’ll be interviewing Steve Rubin in an upcoming issue of Filmfax Magazine so be sure to be on the look out for it as he told me some things he left out of the book: *wink, wink*
-Dwayne Epstein

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FROM THE 1998 FILMFAX ARCHIVES: THE RAT PACK

An old friend recently contacted me via social media about a question she and her husband had been pondering during dinner. It had to do with the infamous Rat Pack and instead of searching Google, she contacted me to ask about the group’s inception. I wrote her back based on what I remembered and the result pleased both her and her husband.
Of course, it also got me to thinking, how DID I know the answer to her query? The senior moment passed when I realized I had, albeit many years ago, written a rather tongue-in-cheek article about that very subject for Filmfax’s sister publication, Outre Magazine.
It was a favorite piece of mine as the subject is a favorite. Even though the articles are all done on spec, I didn’t have to sell this one very hard at all. A simple query was all it took. One of the many reasons I loved writing for the magazine was just that: They liked what I wrote and I liked their subject matter. A perfect fit. Besides, it allowed me to keep my chops up while I continued to research Lee Marvin Point Blank.
And so without further ado…..Oh, one more thing. The cable show I referenced but did not state by name was Mystery Science Theater. Very funny show in it’s day but I didn’t want to risk legal action….or something like that.
So NOW, without further ado, my homage to (please hold your applause until all names have been completed) Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and supporting players Shirley MacLaine, Humphrey Bogart, and Lauren Bacall. I give you, THE RAT PACK!
Rather appropriate for this Good Friday, don’t you think?

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 1

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 1

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 2

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 2

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 3

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 3

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 4

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 4

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 5

The Rat Pack in Outre, Page 5

 

 

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GREG HILDEBRANDT (PT.2) ON STAR WARS, LOTR AND MORE!!

Now that Star Wars fever is spiking, I figure it to be  the perfect time to post part 2 of my 2009 Filmfax interview with Greg Hildebrandt. What makes it perfect –aside from the terrfic cover art, of course — is the amazing tale he tells behind the creation of the iconic poster of the first film.
There are also some other pretty fascinating insights fom the man who resides in a castle in New Jersey (!). It is not that well known but the team of The Brothers Hildebrandt actually split up for a period of time, which Greg speaks of quite candidly in the interview, probably for the first time. Greg also talks about how he got involved in fine art gallery exhibitions, the J.R.R. Tolkein family estate’s opinion of Greg & Tim Hildebrandt’s Lord of the Rings artwork (LOTR) , the Hildebrandt’s own foray into the realm of fantasy storytelling, the dream fulfillment of how the brothers came to render the daily strip of Milton Caniff’s Terry & the Pirates, and a whole lot more!  All told, it’s a pretty impressive career. So much so that it could not be contained in just 2 parts. The concluding part will be posted soon, with a cover that tops them all. Seriously! That’s soon to come, so in the mean time enjoy part 2 of my interview with one of the unsung perveyors of pop culture’s landscape.
Of course, if you want something to read afterwards while waiting for the conclusion to be posted, there’s always Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, enjoy…

Cover of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2.

Cover of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2.

Page 1 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 1 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 2 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 2 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 3 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 3 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 4 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 4 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 5 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 5 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 6 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 6 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 7 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 7 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 8 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 8 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 9 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

Page 9 of Filmfax Greg Hildebrandt interview, Pt. 2

 

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