THE PROFESSIONALS (1966): ONE OF LEE MARVIN’S BEST

TCM will be airing writer/director Richard Brooks’ The Professionals(1966) today at 8pm EST (5pm PST), one of Lee Marvin’s best and over time, least appreciated films. Within the genre of action films it is without question one of the best of its kind, with several Oscar nominations to its credit to prove it. The dialogue is smart and witty, the plot filled with unexpected twists, the performances are all top notch and the efforts behind the camera are equally impressive. From Conrad Hall’s eye-filling photography to Maurice Jarre’s rousing score, everything clicks.
Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know the depth, challenges and ultimate rewards that went into the film’s production. I was fortunate enough to interview co-stars Woody Strode, Jack Palance, stuntman Tony Epper and production manager Phil Parslow, who have all since passed on. They’re exclsuive tales of making the classic are eye-opening and gvie no small amount of credit to Marvin himself. Whether taking it upon himself to keep the film’s guns clean in the unpredictable desert conditions, or ensuring co-star Woody Strode recieved proper credit, Marvin’s contribution can not be overestimated. So, in honor of its hopeful rediscovery, check out some of the rare graphics below…

(L-R) Title cast members Woody Strode, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster watch unobtrusively as Jack Palance and his revolutioniaries attack a federal troop train.

(L-R) Title cast members Woody Strode, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster watch unobtrusively as Jack Palance and his revolutioniaries attack a federal troop train.

Sweating it out on the film's location in Nevada's Valley of Fire.

Sweating it out on the film’s location in Nevada’s Valley of Fire.

Lee Marvin's opening scene in which, according to producer, Phil Parslow, was the only time he filmed a scene drunk in the entire movie, despite many stories to the contrary.

Lee Marvin’s opening scene in which, according to producer, Phil Parslow, was the only time he filmed a scene drunk in the entire movie, despite many stories to the contrary.

Back when movie theaters offered souvenir programs for certain films, the page highlighting Marvin's background stated in typical ballyhoo fashion that he decided to become an actor while convalescing from his war wounds. LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK readers know better.

Back when movie theaters offered souvenir programs for certain films, the page highlighting Marvin’s background stated in typical ballyhoo fashion that he decided to become an actor while convalescing from his war wounds. LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK readers know better.

Original print ad from the film's pressbook highlighting the film's critical response.

Original print ad from the film’s pressbook highlighting the film’s critical response.

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FOR THE RECORD: ADDITIONAL LEE MARVIN VINYL SOUNDTRACKS

Since records are making such a comeback, I thought I’d post images of the remainder of my Lee Marvin vinyl soundtrack collection. First up, the four record set of The Iceman Cometh, the eventful filming of which is detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank. The album consists of the entire audio of the film, a pamphlet about the play and this really impressive original cover art. Trying getting all that on CD!

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The Iceman Cometh Soundtrack cover

In 1976, Marvin made two films for drive-in fodder studio AIP as they attempted to class up their stable. Much money was spent on Shout at the Devil but the soundtrack was an inexplicable French release. …..

Maurice Jarre’s score for the film is melodic but certainly not on par with his more impressive work for David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia & Dr. Zhivago, or evern Richard Brooks’ The Professionals. The best reason for listening? Lee Marvin & The Barflies rendition of “Shagging O’Reilly’s Daughter.” It just has to heard to be believed…

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Shout at the Devil soundtrack cover

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Shout at the Devil soundtrack back cover

 

Lastly, James Horner’s score for Michael Apted’s Gorky Park, a decent film worthy of rediscovery, if only for Marvin’s wonderful performance as Jack Osborne and Horner’s haunting “Tubular Bells”-like main theme…..

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Gorky Park Soundtrack

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FOR THE RECORD: 60s LEE MARVIN SOUNDTRACKS ON VINYL

Research for Lee Marvin Point Blank sometimes included things not normally associated with an acting icon, such as collectible soundtracks on vinyl records. Below are some examples of just that….

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soundtrack cover to SHip of Fools

 

 

 

 

Ernest Golds’ rousing and poignant score for Stanley Kramer’s Ship of Fools (1965) was released as an album conducted by no less than Arthur Fielder of The Boston Pops.

Capitalizing on the suprising success of Cat Ballou the same year, an album was released as a’sort of’ soundtrack that was comprised of the title tunes sung in films by the then recently deceased Nat ‘King’ Cole even though the album cover prominently featured something else….

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soundtrack cover to Cat Ballou

 

With his stardom in full ascension by the mid and late 60s and soundtrack sales soaring it was a natural that the following albums to Lee Marvin films be released. Maurice Jarre’s muscular, Mexican-themed score to The Professionals (1966)…..

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Soundtrack cover to The Professionals

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soundtrack back cover to the professionals

And of course, Marvin’s biggest hit film  of the decade, and of his career naturally meant a soundtrack release of Frank DeVol’s score, especially for anyone who needed to hear the full version of Trini Lopez singing The Bramble Bush….

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soundtrack cover to The Dirty Dozen

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soundtrack back cover to The Dirty Dozen

 

Closing out the decade with a true musical entity, Paint Your Wagon’s soundtrack included this simple watercolor of Marvin in the inside gatefold….

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Inside cover to Paint Your Wagon

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