WHAT HAPPENED TO DIRTY DOZEN’S SAMSON POSEY?

The Dirty Dozen is the movie that had made me a Lee Marvin fan a long time ago. As a fan, in researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, I was in the enviable position of speaking with cast members about the film’s production and there were certain issues with the film I always wanted to know about. Chief among them was whatever happened to Clint Walker’s character, Samson Posey, who never recieved a final scene as the other cast members did? In interviewing Clint Walker back in 1999, I got the lowdown from the source himself. Unfortunately, it did not make the cut for the book’s final draft for a myriad of reasons.
Walker proved to be a wonderful interview, enlightening me on the film’s production and offering a terrific anecdote on a little known factoid in shooting his big confrontational scene with Marvin which is definitely in the book. Wished I could’ve included the story of what happened to Samson Posey but…. However, there is this blog which exists just for such a scenario. Enjoy!

Clint Walker (r) and Lee Marvin (center) talk on The Dirty Dozen with visitor, heavyweight Champ, Muhammad Ali.

Clint Walker (r) and Lee Marvin (center) talk on The Dirty Dozen location with visitor, heavyweight Champ, Muhammad Ali.

Dwayne: Was The Dirty Dozen the first time you met and worked with Lee Marvin?
Clint: Yes it was. It was the first time I worked with him. I used to ride dirt bikes and I met him and Steve McQueen and Keenan Wynn out on their bikes. That was out by the Tehachapees, in the days when we could ride out there.
D: What was he like in those days?
C: Oh gee, my feeling about Lee was he was a man’s man. He was a good bike rider and a good actor. I always enjoyed his work.
D: Was there any improvised dialog worked out, or was it scripted exactly as it was shot? C: Well [laughs] very few scripts get done exactly as they’re written because the writer is not the character. But a lot of it was pretty much the same and I’ll tell you why. Before we ever shot anything, we went into one of the huge soundstages at Pinewood and they had a huge round table. It reminded me of the Knights of the Round Table.
D: I’ve seen a photo of that with Aldrich and the cast.

The only known photo of the entire cast of The Dirty Dozen at an initial script reading. Clockwise from the bottom left are Charles Bronson (Joseph Wladislaw), Richard Jaeckel (Sgt. Bowren), George Kennedy (Maj. Armbruster), Trini Lopez (Jimenez), Al Mancini (Bravos), Bob Phillips (Cpl. Morgan), Jim Brown (R.T. Jefferson), Donald Sutherland (Vernon Pinkley), John Cassavetes (Victor Franko), Ralph Meeker (Kinder), Robert Webber (Gen. Denton), director Robert Aldrich, Lee Marvin (Maj. Reisman), Ernest Borgnine (Gen. Worden), Telly Savalas (Archer Maggot), Robert Ryan (Col. Breed), Clint Walker (Posey), Colin Maitland (Sawyer), Ben Carruthers (Gilpin), Stuart Cooper (Lever), unidentified and Tom Busby (Vladek).

The only known photo of the entire cast of The Dirty Dozen at an initial script reading. Clockwise from the bottom left are Charles Bronson (Joseph Wladislaw), Richard Jaeckel (Sgt. Bowren), George Kennedy (Maj. Armbruster), Trini Lopez (Jimenez), Al Mancini (Bravos), Bob Phillips (Cpl. Morgan), Jim Brown (R.T. Jefferson), Donald Sutherland (Vernon Pinkley), John Cassavetes (Victor Franko), Ralph Meeker (Kinder), Robert Webber (Gen. Denton), director Robert Aldrich, Lee Marvin (Maj. Reisman), Ernest Borgnine (Gen. Worden), Telly Savalas (Archer Maggot), Robert Ryan (Col. Breed), Clint Walker (Posey), Colin Maitland (Sawyer), Ben Carruthers (Gilpin), Stuart Cooper (Lever), unidentified and Tom Busby (Vladek).

C: Right. At any rate, everything was rehearsed there. If anyone, if there was something they didn’t like, it was brought up then and worked on, which I thought was an excellent idea. Bob Aldrich was wise enough to know no writer can write all the dialog for an actor because he’s not the actor. A lot of times an actor simply will say the same thing but in different words. The most important thing is as long as the idea is passed on. Anyhow, I think all of that was taken care of at that time. Everybody was pretty comfortable. But you’ll always change things a little. A good director will listen and watch. As long as it comes out good and what needs to be said has been said, why he’ll print it.
D: That was one of the greatest casts of all time.
C: Yeah, we had a tremendous cast.
D: How did they all interact?
C: I certainly didn’t have any problems with anyone. I don’t think there was a problem in the world. I think everybody had a great deal of respect for Lee. Usually what he did or said, made sense. I can’t even remember any problems or friction or any real difference of opinion. I think one day the cast was discussing some subject and and there was some differences of opinion. But you know, they would do that at times. Beyond that, I think everybody got along quite well. I personally for awhile had the same dressing room with Ernie Borgnine and then later, I had the same dressing room with Charlie Bronson and I got along great with both of them.
D: Since your character was an Indian in the book was that something that was more so… C: Yeah, Samson Posey was his name. I was supposed to do a rain dance and so on. I think Bob Aldrich was a football fan and I think I lost some of what I was suppose to do in order to give Jim Brown a bigger part.
D: You mean the big finale of Brown throwing the grenades?
C: Yeah, I think that was Bob’s idea. Of course, Jim was noted for his ability to run…. Well, I was disappointed because I practiced for the rain dance. I was looking forward to doing that.
D: Can you tell me about that?
C: It was just that simple. In the original script I was suppose to do a rain dance. Anyhow, it was cut out and that happens.
D: Were you ever approached to do any of the sequels?
C: I’m glad I wasn’t. I think the best thing you can do with classics is leave them alone. Unless you want to wait a number oıf years because while those guys are still alive…It’s like The Magnificent Seven. They tried to redo that and I think they fell on their face. They had a great cast and I don’t think they’ll ever get a cast like that together again.
D: Much like The Dirty Dozen.
C: Yeah, those kind of things, remakes, I just as soon stay away from. When you get a classic –unless 30 or 40 years have gone by — I say leave it alone.
D: Were you unsure at all about playing a character so different from what people know you as?
C: No, it didn’t bother me. I like the idea of having an opportunity to do something else other than what I had been doing. That’s how you prove you’re an actor.
D: How did you feel about the controversy about the film’s violence?
C: It didn’t bother me. If you’re going to storm a German castle full of Nazis and try to wipe it out [laughs]…look, war is violent, let’s face it. Hey, as far as it being violent, it could have been far worse. They do worse things today. I don’t think it was overdone at all.
D: That intense scene wth Marvin, went as written where he flipped you and all?

Clint Walker's Posey lunges at Lee Marvin's Col. Reisman but he and the audience or in for a big surprise.

Clint Walker’s Posey lunges at Lee Marvin’s Col. Reisman but he and the audience or in for a big surprise.

C: We did it and that’s not the easiest thing to do, when you got to throw somebody over your shoulder and make it look good. The other person’s got to go over your shoulder and not get hurt. I’ve done a lot of action films and my experience there stood me in good stead, plus I was in good shape and that helps.

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ALEX BEN BLOCK & OTHERS ON LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK

Alex Ben Block, Veteran correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and author of the first — and in my opinon, still the best — biography on the legendary Bruce Lee, recently agreed to write a review on Amazon for my book, Lee Marvin Point Blank. For reasons neither one of us can understand, Amazon will not post the review. Being the good-hearted mensch that he is, when I asked him if he would allow me to post it on my blog, he fully agreed. What a guy, huh?

The cover of my own copy of Alex Ben Block's THE LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE, published a year after Lee's 1973 demise.

The cover of my own copy of Alex Ben Block’s THE LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE, published a year after Lee’s 1973 demise.

Anyway, what he wrote is below, and I’ve posted it not for ego-boosting purposes (although I will admit, it is quite a rocket launcher in that regard!) but to enforce the point of how incredibly fortunate I am to have someone of his stature take note of my work. Hopefully, maybe it’ll encourage others to read it…or better yet, rediscover Lee Marvin and his films!
And so, I give you, Mr. Block’s assement of my work. Enjoy…….
“This is the definitive book on Lee Marvin, who had one of the great screen careers in the era bridging the final days of the Golden Age of the studios and the modern age of blockbuster movies. Dwayne Epstein deserves praise for his in depth research, often insightful writing and for bringing back some wonderful memories for this Cat Ballou fan. I enjoyed reading it and came away with a greatly changed view of Marvin, and much more respect for his career, and the way he lived his life – exactly as he wanted no matter who liked it or how the world saw him. Marvin leaves a rich cinematic legacy, a lot of interesting TV work, an impressive military record, years of hard core alcoholism and the cloud of an absurd “palimony” suit, in a colorful and full life. This book delivers it all in detail, with context, rich characters and a feeling of truth – all done in a flowing and interesting narrative that kept me reading until the very end.”

A photo of Alex Ben Block (right) with iconic 70s actor and personal favorite, Elliot Gould, at a recent Hollywood function.

A photo of Alex Ben Block (right) with iconic 70s actor and personal favorite, Elliot Gould, at a recent Hollywood function.

 

I don’t mind saying, I have been extremely fortunate to have several notable individuals praise my work, among them NY Times Bestselling biographer Stefan Kanfer,  Screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook, author & TV writer Phoef Sutton, biopic writer Larry Karaszewski, and more!
They all boggle my mind in terms of their praise but several stick out for other reasons. One of the those notables is Tracy Keenan Wynn. Son of the legendary actor Keenan Wynn and grandson of comedian/actor Ed Wynn, Tracy and his brother Ned were forthcoming with me in interviews in which they spoke of their father’s friendship with Lee Marvin. Of course, there is no guarantee that after the book comes out either one of them will like the results.

Three generations of a show business dynasty: (L-R) A young Tracy Wynn with his father actor & Lee Marvin cohort, Keenan Wynn, and vaudeville legend, grandfather Ed Wynn.

Three generations of a show business dynasty: (L-R) A young Tracy Wynn with his father, actor & Lee Marvin cohort, Keenan Wynn, and his grandfather vaudeville legend, Ed Wynn.

Tracy is the highly noted screenwriter of everything from The Longest Yard (the original!) to The Autobiography of Mis Jane Pittman. When I asked if he’d be willing to write a review of my book, his response blew me away…

“Author Dwayne Epstein’s newest book, LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK, is a detailed and accurate account of the good and not so good chapters of Lee Marvin’s personal and professional lives, off and on the screen. This is an in-depth study of one of Hollywood’s near mythical character actor/ leading man hybrid personas….the book is at once an in depth study and as well as a highly readable and entertaining overview of one of Hollywood’s most endearing and enduring action stars.”

Another wonderful surprise was from actor Ron Thompson. His performance(s) in Ralph Bakshi’s animated film American Pop remains one of my all-time favorites as he beleivable essayed the character of Tony and his illigetimate son, Pete. Because the film was rotoscoped, no one realized it was even him on screen!

A recent photo of good friend Ron Thompson (inset) and one of his two animated alter egos, Pete, from Ralph Bakshi's AMERICAN POP.

A recent photo of good friend Ron Thompson (inset) and one of his two animated alter egos, Pete, from Ralph Bakshi’s AMERICAN POP.

I made friends with Ron on Facebook a while ago and was extremely glad to see our correspondence blossom into friendship. Actually met him in-person once, too. When I asked if he’d write a blurb for my book, I had no idea he’d write what he did below. I’m telling you, folks, life is constantly full of happy surprises!

“As a young teen, I went to see Brando in The Wild One. I left talking about Lee Marvin.
I truly enjoyed Lee Marvin: Point Blank. It enlightened me on who the man was. Some of you may know I’m an actor. I could relate to a lot of the stories. Especially when he was a NY actor and ‘making the rounds’ and doing live TV. I was unaware that he had been a New York actor.
There are wonderful stories of his adventures in movie making. Dwayne Epstein paints a 3 dimensional picture of the man: A good, kind, thoughtful and extremely troubled man. I highly recommend Point Blank. Well done, Dwayne Epstein.”

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MEN’S MAGAZINES W/ LEE MARVIN, PART. 1

The 1950s through the 1970s saw an immense amount of Men’s Magazines flood the market and almost every single one of them at one point or another ran an article on Lee Marvin. Doing research on Lee Marvin: Point Blank found yours truly persuing these periodicals but other than the graphics (ahem!) I found most of these articles were simply rehashed material from other sources. The grahics however, were indeed worthy as one such example below can attest. It’s Topper Magazine from July, 1961…….

Cover of Topper Magazine, July 1961

Cover of Topper Magazine, July 1961

Actually, I’ve never heard of this men’s magazine as it must have gone out of print before I could read it. Small wonder as Marvin isn’t even mentioned on the cover of this issue. However,  inside is a terrific photo layout with a brief introduction explaining how the likes of Marvin’s buddy Keenan Wynn, actor Rory Calhoun, Olympic gold medalist Bob Mathias and legendary stuntman Cary Loftin spend a weekend in Malibu. Personally I love the shot of Marvin in Loftin’s motorcycle sidecar. Take note of how Marvin’s address is shown and also Marvin’s lack of helemt. Ahh, the simpler days. Enjoy….

Introduction of article in Topper

Introduction of article in Topper

 

1st page of pix from Topper article

1st page of pix from Topper article

Page 2 of pix w/ Marvin, Keenan Wynn, Rory Calhoun & Bob Mathias

Page 2 of pix w/ Marvin, Keenan Wynn, Rory Calhoun & Bob Mathias

 

FInal page of color pix including Lee Marvin's Malibu home

FInal page of color pix including Lee Marvin’s Malibu home

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