‘FEUD’S ROBERT ALDRICH, JOAN CRAWFORD & LEE MARVIN

From the NY Times, March 12, 2016: After a tough day shooting “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?,” director Robert Aldrich complains to his wife (Molly Price) that his two stars — Bette Davis and Joan Crawford — have ganged up on him, undermining his power on the set. He seethes that Jack Palance and Lee Marvin would never have resorted to such maneuvers. His wife replies flatly: “They don’t have to. They’re men.”

The original cast of “Feud” (L-R): Bette Davis, Jack Warner, Joan Crawford and Robert Aldrich.

That line is one of the points of this week’s episode of “Feud: Bette and Joan.” The show so far is at its best when it examines the different ways in which power operates, and the different ways in which power is perceived. As Aldrich’s wife observes, when men fight for something (or fight with one another), it’s perceived as business as usual. When women fight, they’re perceived as being difficult, petty, or “catty.”

I’ve been fascinated with this original cable series and the Lee Marvin reference in the second episode got me to thinking. In Lee Marvin Point Blank readers are fully aware of the connection between Lee Marvin and Robert Aldrich. He directed Lee in 3 different decades and the films Attack! (1956), The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Emperor of the North (1973) are fully explored. However, there’s one anecdote from Attack! costar Eddie Albert that shows a side of Aldrich not yet mentioned on the series that so far has portrayed him as rather dominated and put-upon. From my interview with the late, great Eddie Albert:

Director Robert Aldrich’s ATTACK! co-stars Lee Marvin and the ‘late’ William Smithers.

“I remember one thing about him. We were just starting Attack! We had rehearsed for a week. I think it was a Monday and we were all there. But the kid from New York, I’ve forgotten his name…he was a leading part. He played the main solider. …William Smithers! Anyway, he was about 15-20 minutes late and Aldrich didn’t say anything. Tuesday came and he was 20 minutes late again. Aldrich said, ‘I want to have a conference.’ He said, ‘Now, this is very difficult. We have problems. We have all got to work together…’ He went on very beautifully and then stopped, pointed to the actor and yelled, ‘Now you cocksuckers that come in late, I am going to kick the shit right out of you!’ I never heard him explode like that. The kid was never late again. ‘I’ll run your ass right out of this town…!’

To my knowledge, Marvin never encountered Jack Warner but he did almost work with Bette Davis on a film called Bunny O’ Hare (1971that was made instead with his frequent costar, Ernest Borgnine.
However, he did have a memorable run-in with Joan Crawford. According to Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin, who had worked for Crawford as her nanny (the Mommie Dearest stories are true, by the way), the run-in took place at the premiere of Lee’s film, Raintree County (1957). In Betty’s own words:

“At the the premiere Lee and I were lined up. Big joke in those days. So there we were, and who’s behind us? Joan Crawford. She, in her wonderfull style, looks right through me… Because Lee was like the next big star on the horizon and on, and on..The next day, comes this script. I thought, “Oh isn’t this interesting.” She wants him to co-star in her next film and would he please read the script and set up an appointment at MCA. I said to myself, ‘Here we go.’ She calls. Talks right through me. ‘Is Lee there? Why don’t you come over. We’ll go over the script in my office and read it together.’ He said, ‘Okay.’ He left about one o’clock. You know, I was a young wife. It made me very uncomfortable.

Newlyweds Betty and Lee Marvin around the time Lee was offered a ‘role’ opposite Betty’s former employer, Joan Crawford.

What’s going on here? The whole afternoon, it was difficult for me. When he came back, he was laughing. I said, ‘How did he go? Are you going to co-star with Joan Crawford?’ He said, ‘Oh, hardly.’ I asked if he read the script. He was a very slow reader, as I told you. He had went into a room with the script and she was waiting. After about two hours, she said, ‘Well?’ He said, ‘Listen, it takes a long time to get through this crap.’ Once again, you know? He was like Give me a break.’ Oh she was livid! That was Lee’s lovely way. And I’m not saying out of respect for me. He didn’t like her crappy script because she was doing a lot of garbage.”

Share

GREAT MAN’S PASSING: AUGUST 29TH, 1987 WE LOST LEE MARVIN

Great Man’s Passing:
It was 28 years ago today that we felt the loss of the great man’s passing: we lost Lee Marvin to the ravages of time.The loss to many of those closest to him, such as friends, family, and co-workers, is well chronicled in Lee Marvin Point Blank.
However, as is often the case, at the time of his passing, news of his death was overshadowed by the loss of another iconic fim personality: in this case it was actor/director John Huston, who had passed away the day before, at the age of 81. Still in all, Marvin’s death was indeed recorded such as in the following obituaries, like this one from the L.A. Times:

L.A. Times Obit for Lee Marvin

L.A. Times Obit for Lee Marvin

 

LA Times obit, pt.2

LA Times obit, pt.2

 

In the actor’s home town of Tucson, the following obit ran:

Tucson obit

Tucson obit

 

The now long-defunct Herald-Examiner ran a piece in which they spoke with several of Marvin’s co-workers such as Ernest Borgnine and Ralph Bellamy:

Herald-Examiner, AP Wire obit

Herald-Examiner, AP Wire obit

 

However it was in the N.Y. Times, in the city of his birth, which gave Marvin’s passing the most complete coverage:

NY Times obit

NY Times obit

Ironically, one of Marvin’s most frequent co-stars, Charles Bronson, did not comment on his death but would himself pass away from Alzeheimer’s Disease exactly 15 years later to the day in 2003!

Share

BEST SELLER LISTS: IT WAS A YEAR AGO TODAY!

Best Seller Lists
For Sgt. Pepper it may have been 20 years ago but for yours truly it was a scant year ago today that I recieved the following e-mail from my publisher about Lee Marvin Point Blank’s latest sales ranking..
“Dwayne–
Check this out, from an old friend in publishing.  And what fantastic news he
brings!!! Congratulations, Mr. NYTimes ebook bestseller!!!!
Tim”
The result were these amazing images that still boggles my mind. First, number 4 on the E-Book list. The daughter of my best friend joked, “Your book would’ve ranked higher if that little bastard hadn’t died.” Don’t be offended as she was n’t referring to Maya Angelou but the subject matter of Heaven Is For Real….
NYT2

Then, there was also the combined list of E-Book and Print Non-fiction. Check out Number 16…

Combined NY Times Bestseller List of E-Book and Hardcover Non-fiction

Combined NY Times Bestseller List of E-Book and Hardcover Non-fiction

And if that were not enough, there’s these images from the esteemed industry journal, Publisher’s Weekly. Check out number 10 in Biography…..
PW1
Well, if that’s kind of hard to see, here’s a close-up…..
PW2

And the cherry on the sundae was…..
WSJ1
Scrolling down this mammoth list one discovers number 3 in NONFICTION E-BOOKS …
wSJ2

And if that were not enough, my publisher decided on advertising the book with this permanent footer banner. Ahh, life is good!
lee_marvin

Share