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…..
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….
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….
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….
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…..