THE DIRTY DOZEN: THE NEXT MISSION PREMIERED 30 YEARS AGO

On February 4, 1985, Lee Marvin made his TV-move acting debut when NBC broadcast the “long-awaited sequel” The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission…..

Video box cover art for The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission

Video box cover art for The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission

Not quite sure exactly who had been long-awaiting the poorly made sequel, however, it was indeed Marvin’s TV-move debut since the made-for-TV remake of The Killers aired in theaters before it made its way to television. Marvin’s opinion of the project was wholly positive as far as the media was concerned, but, to his friends and family he gave another opinion of the show, as I quoted in Lee Marvin: Point Blank (pp.240-241).
Two of the 1967 film’s original cast rejoined Marvin. Ernest Borgnine returned as General Worden to berate Major Reisman while explaining the mission….

Lee Marvin (left), looking a wax museum from the Hollywood Museum gets his orders from General Ernest Borgnine

Lee Marvin (left), looking like a wax figure from the Hollywood Museum, gets his orders from General Worden, played by Ernest Borgnine.

Even though the film is set just a few months after the orginal ended, Borgnine’s marriage to beauty expert Tova Borgnine had him looking much better than Marvin, who appeared MUCH older in the film than he did in 1967. Also looking surprisingly well was co-star Rchard Jaeckel as MP Seargent Bowren. An entirely new breed of young actors filled out the cast of the new dozen….

(left) RIchard Jaeckel reuturns as Sgt. Bowen shown with, among others, Larry Wilcox (next to Jaeckel) of CHiPS fame and Wiseguy's Ken Wahl, pcitured next to Marvin among the cast.

(left) RIchard Jaeckel returns as Sgt. Bowren, shown with, among others, Larry Wilcox (next to Jaeckel) of CHiPS fame and TV Wiseguy Ken Wahl, pictured next to Marvin among the cast.

The plot, such as it was, concerned an attempt to kill Hitler, which was even more of a stretch than the original! The storyline even went so far as to include the original’s plot device of having Reisman and several of the ‘Dozen’ going undercover as Nazis. In the original, African-American actor Jim Brown was wisely not put in a Nazi uniform. That didn’t seem to come up during the making of the sequel….

(L-R) African-Amercian actor Ricco Ross, Lee Marvin & Larry Wilcox go undercover in THE DIRTY DOZEN: THE NEXT MISSION.

(L-R) African-Amercian actor Ricco Ross, Lee Marvin & Larry Wilcox go undercover in THE DIRTY DOZEN: THE NEXT MISSION.

It did pretty well in the ratings, as NBC executives decided to pay for a few more sequels with other previous cast members, such as Telly Savalas, since Marvin was already long gone. It eventually spawned a short-lived TV show, appropriatley enough on FOX-TV. Overall, the first sequel is  worth watching if it ever shows up on TV simply for the laugh factor. Perhaps the look on Marvin’s face below best sums up one of his last performances that aired 30 years ago this week…..
JEEP

 

 

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THE OTHER KID SHELLEEN(S)

Believe it or not, Lee Marvin’s Oscar-winning turn as Kid Shelleen in the film Cat Ballou has had more than one incarnation. In spite of the fact that the original film was a headache to make for almost all invovled and was not thought to be successful before its release, Hollywood jumped at the chance to remake it once its  success was solidified.
Marvin was asked about making a sequel and/or remake but logically passed on the idea (Lee Marvin: Point Blank, p. 169).
That didn’t stop Hollywood from trying to cash in on the film’s hard-earned success. Acoording to the IMDb, “NBC developed two pilots based on Cat Ballou (1965) with completely different casts and crews. They were aired on consecutive evenings in September of 1971. Neither pilot was picked up as a series.” The first of these 2 was set to air in the 1969-70 season but sat on the shelf for 18 months before finally airing literally just one day before another version with Jo Ann Harris in the title role and Forrest Tucker as Kid Shellen. That version could at least boast Tom Nardini reprising his role from the film as Jackson Two Bears, seen below in a recent photo…..

A recent photo of Lee Marvin's reclusive Cat Ballou costar, Tom Nardini.

A recent photo of Lee Marvin’s reclusive Cat Ballou costar, Tom Nardini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other version of Cat Ballou starred Lesley Ann Warren in the Jane Fonda role and veteran character actor Jack Elam as Kid Shelleen. Apparently, the makers went so far as to attempt a recreation of Marvin’s famous sight gag from the film, but with less than spectacular results. Below is the original image on the left and the TV-movie version with Elam on the right. Ahh, Hollywood, won’t you ever learn?

Lee Marvin as the original Kid Shelleen on the left and the remake with Jack Elam on the right.

Lee Marvin as the original Kid Shelleen on the left and the remake with Jack Elam on the right.

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LEE MARVIN’S M SQUAD PREMIERED SEPT. 20, 1957

He put it off as long as possible but Lee Marvin eventually starred in his own TV series, M Squad, which premiered September 20, 1957 on NBC. He eventually became a producer of the hit three-year series but it was not anything he particularly liked working on. Why? One reason was things like this….
msquadad

 

 

Another reason was having to do p.r. for the show. For a straight forward and straight talking man like Lee Marvin, the result was often profiles, such as the lead written for a TV Guide profile below….
msquadtvguide

 

Along with the crass commercialism, requiste p.r and rushed schedule of TV, there was also the need for picure posing….

msquad1

 

 

msquad2-1

 
msquad3-1

 

 

msquad4

But, still in all, he did what was required and each week viewers tuned in to hear him intone: “My name is Lt. Frank Ballinger of M Squad, a special detail of the Chicago Police Department…”

The effect the show had on his personal relationships, marriage and career almost brought all three to an end until the show itself finally came to an end in 1960. How did that finally come about and how did he deal with it? All are answered in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

"Yeah, looks like we're gonna be on the air for a while so send up a couple of extra large with pepperoni..."

“Yeah, looks like we’re gonna be on the air for a while so send up a couple of extra large with pepperoni…”

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