LEE MARVIN’S XMAS MOVIE?

  Lee Marvin’s Xmas movie? Well, kinda. To the best of my knowledge Marvin has never made a holiday-themed film. It’s possible he may have done soemthng for TV, though. Not quite sure about that. However, as pointed out in a recent online article, he did make one film that indeed had a Xmas scene in it. Apparently, the scene in director John Ford’s  Donovan’s Reef (1963), in which several characters act out the nativity in a VERY different way qualifies for inclusion on the list of great holiday movies. Further more, the film is currently streaming this month on Amazon Prime and Hulu, which is good to know. I wouldn’t know myself as I don’t stream any of the services that are available out there. Yeah, I know. I’m a 20th century man, living in the 21st century.

(L-R) ‘Boats’ Gilhooley (Lee Marvin) and ‘Monk’ (Mike Mazurki) represent ‘The King of The United States and the King of the Islands in the Xmas pageant with Gilhooley reaping the benefits of the leaky roof he paid for.



   As to the scene in the film, it’s both reverent and lighthearted at the same time. As usual, Marvin steals every scene he’s in throughout the movie and sadly, he’s just not in the movie enough. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly encourage you do so, especially the opening brawl between Marvin and John Wayne. 

Lee Marvin in Donovan’s Reef enjoying his Xmas.


   Unfortunately, the fun onscreen did not carry over offscreen as I discovered when researching Lee Marvin Point Blank. You’ll have to read it to find out why.
 So, there you have it. Lee Marvin’s Xmas movie for us Lee Marvin fans. Happy holidays one and all and a most joyous new year. Let’s hope it’s better than this year!
– Dwayne Epstein

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‘MAD DOG’ MARVIN

‘Mad Dog’ Marvin, not a nickname usually associated with Oscar-winner Lee Marvin, but he did once utilize it in a sketch on a Bob Hope Special costarring Barbara Eden. The special is either from 1968 or 1970, not quite sure. Either way, he was already well established in the media but was not above such silly and broadly played doings as he had on occasion in such films as Donovan’s Reef (1963) and Cat Ballou (1965). 
  As with many of Hope’s sketches, they’re extremely dated in the humor but the fun is in watching big names stars deliver the goods, and Marvin delivers in spades. Of course, Barbara Eden is sexy and cute but it’s Marvin who steals the show, especially with his entrance. The effect he has on Hope is hilarious.

Screen grab of Lee Marvin’s entrance as ‘Mad Dog’ Marvin on the Bob Hope Special of the 1960s.



Other celebrities were quite willing to make fun of their image, such as Paul Simon dressed like a turkey and singing “Still Crazy After All These Years” on a Thanksgiving episode of Saturday Night Live” back in the the 1970s. Then there’s the infamous bunny suit worn by John Wayne for Easter on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in.” 

The Easter Bunny on steroids, aka John Wayne on ‘Laugh-In.’



In researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank, I was constantly surprised and impressed with the actor’s willingness to do anything and have fun doing it. It’s what made the work a labor of love. For example, when I discovered that because he enjoyed watching “The Flip Wilson Show,” he asked his agent Meyer Mishkin to get him a guest spot on the show and so he did. It was just before going on stage with the show that he got the surprise of a lifetime that I wrote about in the book. 
 When all is said and done, one must watch the sketch below to truly appreciate what I’ve been talking about. I can’t picture such Marvin costars as John Wayne or Charles Bronson selling it like Marvin himself does. Oh, and the waiter in the sketch doing the bad Italian accent? Singer Robert Goulet!
Watch and enjoy at the link below….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsVY7tXJiKI 

– Dwayne Epstein

 

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CHARLES BRONSON’S CENTENNIAL

Charles Bronson’s centennial took place earlier this month (November, 3rd, to be exact) and his legion of fans has grown considerably since his passing in 2003. I have always been among the legion and although many of his later films are rather cringe-inducing, he did leave behind an overall impressive body of work. So much so that my Lee Marvin Point Blank publisher, Tim Schaffner, agreed to publish my bio of a proposed Bronson book as a logical follow-up. Without going into too much detail, it obviously didn’t come to pass for a variety of reasons. Some other publishers actually showed interest but ultimately, it was not to be. It may still see the light of the day eventually, but in the meantime, allow me to pay tribute to the pride of Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania in my own way. Below the proposed cover image is the introduction I wrote for the proposal. Tim didn’t care for the title but I still think it works. So in honor of Charles Bronson’s centennial, I give you the reason and theme in the life and work of the late Charles Bronson.
CHARLES BRONSON: AMERICAN SAMURAI

Proposed cover title and image for the bio I had planned to do on Charles Bronson.


There’s an old joke concerning two bulls at the top of a ridge looking down into a canyon filled with young cows. The much younger bull says to his companion, “I have an idea. Let’s rush down to the canyon so we can each grab one of those pretty young cows and make passionate love to it!” The older bull thinks for a moment and responds, “I have a better idea. Let’s slowly walk down to the canyon and make love to them all.”
   In the transitional decade of the 1960s, the younger bull symbolized America’s popular culture. Pepsi sold its product to “those who think young” and later in the decade a popular warning was “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” In American films, Hollywood studio heads also took the point of view of the younger bull, trying everything in sight in an effort to please its patrons. Old Hollywood had given way to the New Hollywood as the feudal studio system crumbled and the antiquated production code gave way to a controversial rating system. Traditional genres were revamped with revisionist concepts that were tried on everything from westerns to musicals. Fans of action-oriented genres still enjoyed the stalwart horse operas of the older John Wayne but they also reveled in the militaristic Lee Marvin, the younger good ol’ boy antics of Burt Reynolds, as well as Clint Eastwood, who encompassed a little of each.
   Then Came Bronson. His popularity in the 1970s was unparalleled, even competing with the popularity of the decade’s Blaxploitation films. When the previously mentioned action film stars faded or died off (Eastwood simply went behind the camera) and a new crop of stars emerged, such as Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, there was still Bronson. Older and more wizened, his appeal remains one of the most unique in film history.
   That appeal proved to be both classic and ironic. Following the screening of one of Bronson’s most popular films, an anonymous 33-year-old California man told a NY Times essayist, “I go to a movie to see Bronson, and not so much for the story. His movies are pretty much the same, but what I like to watch is how he plays his character. He’s kind of tough and rugged, an individualist. He does things his way.” This apt summation applies to any number of classic film stars, from James Cagney to Russell Crowe. What makes Bronson’s appeal ironic was how he was nearly forgotten in his own country, like many a forgotten American Blues artist. When British Invasion artists The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin sang the praises of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, that’s when a whole new and young audience of ironically, American listeners discovered their countrymen’s music. Like those Bluesmen, Charles Bronson had hit a glass ceiling of middling success in his own country until he begrudgingly went to Europe to make films. He then became an international superstar via several tailor-made vehicles, revamped his image and came back to the States bigger than ever — albeit in his fifties!
   He was also no longer the Charles Bronson American audiences had been used to seeing on their movie screens and television sets. The chiseled physique was a little more rugged, accompanied by a thinly drooping mustache. The slitted eyes were a little more snake-like, along with the rarely seen but now slowly revealed smile, usually at the point of imminent violence. It was a visage in keeping with what could only be called that of an American Samurai.
   Why Bronson proved to be so popular in such a youth orientated industry is an enigma to be explored in this definitive biography via his personal life and professional career. He may have appeared late in the game to major film stardom, but like the old bull, the filmgoing audience reaped the benefits of his slow amble down hill.

Hope you enjoyed, or the very least appreciated my tribute to the late Charles Buchinsky on this, Charles Bronson’s Centennial.

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