AWARD SEASON THEN & NOW

Award season is upon us and the majors have already begun with the Golden Globe Awards. Oscar nominations came out earlier this week and the the other guild and critic awards are looming large. Much has changed from the days when Lee Marvin won his only Oscar for Cat Ballou back in the mid-60s.

Lee Marvin backstage after winning his Oscar.

For one thing, the amount of competing awards could be counted on one hand. There wasn’t much beyond the Oscars and Golden Globes. The plethora of guilds and critics organizations had yet to boast of award shows that would ultimately make the Oscars anti-climatic as there are now, with or without a wisecracking host. Matter of fact, when Marvin won his Oscar, he was as surprised as anybody since the odds-on favorite was Rod Steiger for his work in The Pawnbroker. The entire episode of Marvin’s win is covered extensively, of course, in Lee Marvin Point Blank, including some nefarious behind-the-scenes machinations that even Marvin himself was not aware of.

Julie Andrews and Lee Marvin accepting their Golden Globes for being the most popular stars of 1967, which is no longer a category.

What got me thinking about these differences in the award season of days gone by and the ones of today, is an article I read online in which an Academy member bemoans the advent of streamers, screeners, and the like and the effect it has on the season itself. It can be read here but the point is laughable. Bottom line is just that there are too damn many awards shows! Want proof? I’m going to go out on limb and make my own predictions of this year’s Oscar winners as shown below. Feel free to check back after the show to see how right I was. There are:

Best Picture: 1917.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker.
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger for Judy.
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern for Marriage Story.

What’s my criteria? They’ve already won every other award leading up to the Oscars. Talk about anti-climatic! Somewhere Lee Marvin is laughing his war-wounded ass off.
– Dwayne Epstein

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MITCH RYAN TURNS 92 TODAY!

Mitch Ryan, the veteran actor of film, TV and stage has turned ninety-two years old today! He made his film debut in his twenties in the Robert Mitchum cult classic, Thunder Road (1958), returned to the stage and then didn’t make another film until his appearance as Shorty in the Lee Marvin classic, Monte Walsh (1970). Naturally, it was his work in that underrated western that made him the subject of my intense interest. In fact, here’s a story  that I’ve never told publicly before that I think says volumes about the man’s character.

(L-R) Lee Marvin, Mitch Ryan and Jack Palance in MONTE WALSH.

I had attempted to interview him several times over the years but the attempt was often in vain. Lee Marvin’s lawyer, David Kagon, knew Ryan and contacted him for me while I was in Kagon’s office. Ryan was polite but firm. He said he had to honor Pam Marvin’s wishes and not speak to me.
Okay, flash forward a few years and I’m still working on the book and attempting more interviews. I don’t recall how but I came in contact with Ryan again. This time, however, he was infinitely more receptive and agreed to a phone interview. The result was one of the most revealing and useful interviews I ever got as he was a great friend to Marvin throughout the remainder of his life. Our talk can be read in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank and it is both impressive and poignantly revealing.
After the book came out, Jeff Mantor invited me to a Q&A Book signing at his legendary store, Larry Edmunds Bookshop on the dirty boulevard of Hollywood. He encouraged me to invite a celebrity who knew Marvin to help sell books. Not many of my interview subjects were still around but when I asked Mr. Ryan…..

Mitch Ryan at the Larry Edmunds book signing enthusiastically shows off his prized possession.

 

What a guy, huh? I’m telling ya, not just a wonderful actor but a true mensch. We dined at Musso & Franks before the signing (on my publisher’s dime) and had a wonderful time at the signing itself. I can’t say enough about this great man so happy birthday, Mitch, and here’s to many more. You’re aces in my book! And thanks to your help, it’s a NY Times bestseller!
– Dwayne Epstein

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A DIRTY DOZEN REMAKE IS IN THE WORKS

A Dirty Dozen remake is apparently in the works, according to breaking news in Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood. Such pronouncements have been made in the past over the years but the urgency in which this has been green lighted by Warner Brothers is of worthy attention.  Of course, in retelling the info about the original, contemporary Hollywood beat writers got some obvious facts wrong, especially Mike Fleming of Deadline Hollywood, but more on that later.

Montage of images from the one, the only, the original, THE DIRTY DOZEN.

The man behind the project, David Ayers, has an interesting resume’ as I consider his script for Training Day (2001) to be as impressive as Denzel Washington’s Oscar winning performance. Although known mostly for Suicide Squad (2016), Ayers has also made the WWII-era tank drama Fury (2014) with Brad Pitt so I gave him a lot or room to be judged in terms of a Dirty Dozen remake.

Here’s  what I consider the intriguing part. All articles state the remake will be “updated” from it’s WWII-era roots. “Updated” to what? Korea? Vietnam? Afghanistan? Iraq? WHAT? With Ayers resume’ of other dark police dramas, maybe it’s not a war film at all. Perhaps a bunch of convicts will be released to wreak havoc on the south central street gangs of Los Angeles….except I think that’s been done before, too. Bad enough the same studio is allowing Mel Gibson to remake The Wild Bunch (1969).

And the infuriating faux pas of the Deadline Hollywood article? I’m calling out the author, Mike Fleming on this. The one person in the cast NOT listed alphabetically in the credits or  in the ads, in other words, the star of the film IS NOT EVEN MENTIONED WITH THE REST OF THE CAST! For shame, Mr. Fleming. In case you didn’t know, his name is LEE MARVIN, the subject of my book and this blog, Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Oh, and Donald Trump was impeached today.

  • Dwayne Epstein
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