STUART WHITMAN, COMANCHEROS COSTAR, DEAD AT 92

Stuart Whitman, who costarred with John Wayne and Lee Marvin in 1962’s The Comancheros, has died at the age of 92 from skin cancer.

Ad for THE COMANCHEROS, in which Lee Marvin’s appearance remains is not quite what it was in the movie.

The age of 92 is a ripe one for any person, but for a veteran actor know for his dark, brooding good looks to survive for that period of time, is quite an accomplishment.

In all honesty, I was not much of a fan, despite his lengthy and prolific career listed in this online obit.
An apt description was given his career in British David Quinlan’s 1981 compendium, The Illustrated Directory of Film Stars: “Black-haired, craggy-faced American leading man who played a lot of very small roles before breaking into the big time via a Fox contract. These years at the studio (1958-1965) were his only ones as a top Hollywood star, and contain his best performances. Since then, he has remained a regular, if somewhat immobile, second-line leading man.”

COMANCHEROS Pressbook press release on the then burgeoning career of Stuart Whitman.

Whitman also had a small role in the underrated Randolph Scott & Lee Marvin western, Seven Men From Now (1956). That aside, I just always thought of him as part of that generation of actors who for a brief period starred in films at the tail of the studio system, as Quinlan mentioned. Hollywood’s feudal studio system was beginning to crumble so the attempts to make superstars out of the likes of Stuart Whitman and George Hamilton was short-lived. The changing cultural landscape did allow audiences a glimpse at early roles of actors who supported the likes of Hamilton and Whitman, and would become lasting major superstars later in the 1960s and 1970s, Such as Charles Bronson, and yes, Lee Marvin.
Don’t get me wrong, Whitman was a serviceable presence in the right role, such as Pau Regret in The Comancheros — the making of which is detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Personally, despite his well-deserved Oscar-nomination for The Mark (1961), I liked him best in the gritty true-life crime drama, Murder Inc. (1960). Granted, Whitman’s all-American good looks seemed out of place among the ethnic faces, but his scene towards the end of the film in which he confronts Abe “Kid Twist” Reles (Peter Falk), may very well be Stuart Whitman’s best acting ever, in my humble opinion.
Until then, with all the social isolation in place, it might not be a bad idea to catch up on some classic films made by Whitman and others so you can judge for yourself. The ranks are clearly thinning.
– Dwayne Epstein

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MOVIE MAN WAVE ON ITS WAY…AND IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME

Movie man wave? Whatever it is, it’s on its way, according to an article in Deadline Hollywood. I’m assuming the writer is trying to come up with a new, hip phrase along the lines of “Bro-mance,” or some other term in these days of viral social media. Based on the comment section he appears to be taking his lumps for it, too. Personally, I think ‘movie man wave’ is a terrible term but the movies he’s referring to all sound like winners. From Ford Vs. Ferrari to The Irishman and more, it’s looking to be a great end of the year movie season. Of course, nothing in Hollywood happens as a stand alone as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood started the current trend last summer.
Truth be told, it’s a trend that actually started as far aback as silent movies, with the likes of What Price Glory? (1926). Some of the best early ones co-starred the likes of James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, or Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. When I was growing up such films were called ‘Buddy Movies,’ which made more sense than ‘Bro-mance or ‘Man Wave.’

Paul Newman and Lee Marvin may have lacked chemistry in POCKET MONEY but the film did allow for this wonderful candid image of Marvin that remains my favorite.

The actor who made more films in this realm? Probably Lee Marvin, whether as friends, rivals, or downright enemies, he worked with all the other major male stars in that capacity. It’s an impressive list that includes the likes of Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune, Jack Palance, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Robert Shaw, Richard Burton, Oliver Reed, practically the entire spectrum of male movie stars. The final result often varied in quality but the star power certainly didn’t. And what did Marvin think of this various and divergent list of co-stars? That answer can only be found in detail within the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

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LIBERTY VALANCE REDUX? HERE WE GO, AGAIN!

Liberty Valance redux looks to be on its way into production with some slight changes. According do Deadline.com, John Ford’s classic western will now be about the NY Drug Wars of the 1990s.

The 3 principal cast members of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (L-R): Jimmy Stewart (Ranse Stoddard), Lee Marvin (Liberty Valance) and John Wayne (Tom Doniphon).

Movie purists will angrily shake their fists at such blasphemy but before they do, there’s some things to keep in mind, so take a deep cleansing breath…..

Liberty Valance toying with his prey on the streets of Shinbone before the big finale.

– John Carpenter did the same with Howard Hawks’ classic western Rio Bravo (1959), by updating it to Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), which itself was later remade in 2005.

– Hawks also bastardized the tale himself over the years with both El Dorado (1967) and Rio Lobo (1970), all three of which starred John Wayne. So much for acting and directing legends maintaining the integrity of their careers.

– Oh, I know Rio Bravo Redux is not Liberty Valance Redux. For the record, it’s also not the first time The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has had a redux..of a kind. There was a stage play mounted in London a few years back that received surprisingly good reviews.

For Lee Marvin’s opening scene in the film, readers of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK know the real reason he’s wearing the bandana over his face.

–  Also, an updated remake of Liberty Valance has been bandied about for a while now as I had blogged about it back in 2015. As you can see by the blog entry, I’m certainly not defending the idea of an updated remake. Quite the contrary. It’s just that I think in this day and age we should no longer be either shocked nor surprised by such things. Sadly, it is the way of the world we live in.
Besides, to paraphrase the famous line in the film, “When the truth becomes the legend, (re)print the legend.” Would you expect anything  less from Hollywood?
– Dwayne Epstein

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