Sadly, the ranks continue to thin as we recently lost the great and shamefully underrated, Rod Taylor. Since he had worked with Lee Marvin in Raintree County, I was fortunate enough to secure and interview with him back in July of 1995. Most of the wonderful anecdotes he told me went into the text of Lee Marvin: Point Blank, but in tribute to him, I’ve reposted the entire interview below, complete and unedited. The reason is simple. He was a genuinely nice guy who had no illusions, ego or airs about himself, or the amazing work that he did. I think that shows in the transcript below so I’ll allow his words to speak for him. Rest in Peace, Mr. Taylor. We shall not see your like again…..
Initial script reading for Raintree County with from the left: Screenwriter Millard Kaufman, Lee Marvin, director Edward Dymtryk, Eva Marie Saint, Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, producer David Lewis, and costars Jarma Lewis, Nigel Patrick and Rod Taylor.
Dwayne: Thanks for getting back to me. I really, appreciate it.
Rod: I wanted to apologize again for not getting back to you sooner but the fucking note pad that had your number on it got misplaced somewhere.
D: Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry I had to run this morning but you started to tell me some anecdotes about working with Lee Marvin.
R: Yes, well like I said, I don’t know how much help I can be because I don’t remember that much. I do have some interesting anecdotes about working with Lee. He had a great sense of humor.
D: Almost everybody I’ve spoken to has said that to me. He must have been something.
R: (Laughs) Yeah, well Lee, and I, used to say we must have had a fucking ball because we don’t remember a thing.
D: I’m guessing you guys must have imbibed a time or two.
R: Those were the days when you could drink like that and still function the next day for work. What was the name of that musical he made?
D: Paint Your Wagon?
R: Yes. He told me he didn’t remember making the entire film. He even sang a song with a monotone. He didn’t remember a thing about it.
D: You worked with him on Raintree County. I know there was lot of problems on that but do you remember what it was like working with him then?
Rod Taylor as Garwood P. Jones & Lee Marvin as Orville “Flash” Perkins
R: Well, the problems were because of Monty Clift’s terrible accident. The studio wanted to make a big budget return to an old type of movie. When you called I was trying to think of some stories and I do remember this one time when we shooting in Kentucky. Monty was with Liz taking their time on a scene working so the rest of us weren’t really needed. Lee and I and another actor, a British actor named Nigel Patrick..
D: He played the Professor.
R: Wow, what a memory. Anyway we were floating down this murky backwater swamp with a still photographer named Bob…
R: Now how the fuck did you know that?
D: He published a book of his work called “The Platinum Years.”
R: He lives in Ireland now if you want to reach him. I think there’s a publicist named Jim Mahoney who knows how to contact him.
D: I’ve been in touch with him. He used to be Lee Marvin’s publicist.
R: Yeah, he was mine, too. He would know how to reach him. Anyway, so Lee and I with Nigel and Bob went on this picnic. Now I’m from Australia and have some knowledge about waters and what not. Bob accidentally dropped this very expensive camera into the water. Everyone looked to the fucking swimming champ. I jumped into this murky water to look for the camera. I looked and looked. Nothing. Lee put down his tall, frosty mint julep, cut through the water like a knife and brought up the camera as if guided by the hand of god while I sputtered and choked on the swamp water.
D: That’s amazing. How did he get along with everyone?
R: Oh, he got along fine. The thing you had to appreciate about him was his sense of humor. He had a great sense of humor but it could be very caustic because it was based on total honesty. I used to work over at Revue and I would see him there becuase he did a show, what was it “M-Squad”? It later became Four Star when David Niven built it. That’s where I made The Time Machine.
D: I love that movie. That’s one of my favorite movies from my childhood.
R: Yeah, it’s held up well over the years.
D: Do you remember any examples of his humor?
R: Not off hand, unfortunately. There was a story you may have heard because it’s been around so long.
D: You never can tell. Which story is it?
R: Somebody, I think it was a casting director asked him what he had done lately. This casting director asked Marvin, “What have you done lately?,” and Marvin responded immediately, “About what?”
D: (Laughing) That’s a great line.
R: That’s the kind of sense of humor he had.
D: How did he get along with Montgomery Clift?
R: Well, to tell you the truth, they didn’t work that much. I think he felt like I did and felt sorry for him. Lee didn’t socialize much with him. I did that and I was the one who had dinner with him and got mashed potatoes thrown in my hair.
D: Yeah, I heard that Clift did some really bizarre things. Did they get along? I ask because I know they had several scenes together…
R: Lee got along with everybody. People respected Lee for his honesty, his acting ability and he was his own man.
On location in Danville, Kentucky are from the left: Rod Taylor, Nigel Patrick, director Edward Dmytryk (standing), Elizabth Taylor, Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Agnes Moorehead and Walter Abel.
D: Do you remember the last time you saw him?
R: Well, I didn’t see him much but I think I saw him in Malibu after the break up of his marriage and that whole mess. I took Lee’s side so I didn’t talk to Betty.
D: Did he ever talk to you about that?
R: Lee understood that to be a private matter and kept it private so I never asked. I know he moved to Arizona when he was smoking too much. But I didn’t see him much after that.
D: One last question. Do you know anybody else I can contact for a possible interview?
R: Have you spoken to Toshiro Mifune?
D: No, But I’d love to.
R: Mifune loved Lee. I had heard a story but it’s third person so you would have to get it confirmed. During Hell in the Pacific, when Lee was up in the tree and was supposed to pee on him, Mifune wouldn’t do the scene unless Marvin really pissed on him. Wouldn’t use water or a double. He told Lee to go drink some beer and come back to do the scene.
D: (Laughs) I know some people who would pay good money for that now. Hugh Grant comes to mind. I’m sorry, that’s a cheap joke.
R: That’s okay. I’ll tell you somebody else you can talk to.The guy who does that show “Walker, Texas Ranger.” He’s a real fucking asshole, though, nothing but ego.
D: Chuck Norris? Yeah, I’ve heard that but it’s part of the job. I’ve talked to all kinds of people. I don’t have a problem with that. I also just remembered something. I read that you worked with Paul Newman in The Rack. Is that true or is that a misprint?
R: No, that’s a misprint. I did audition for Somebody Up There Likes Me. They thought I was a Brooklyn kid.
D: Well, you pulled the accent off well in The Catered Affair. That’s also a favorite movie of mine.
R: Thank you very much. You really are a movie fan.