JOHN MITCHUM ON LEE MARVIN

John Mitchum, veteran character actor of countless films and TV shows, was also the younger brother of the legendary Robert Mitchum. He once wrote a book in the late 1980s about his life and experiences in Hollywood that’s overflowing with anecdotes and sometimes bawdy tales.

Paperback cover of John Mitchum’s memoir, THEM ORNERY MITCHUM BOYS.

I discovered the book, titled Them Ornery Mitchum Boys after my book, Lee Marvin: Point Blank, had already been published. It concerned me at first as I had always been a fan of his “Big Brother Bob,” and thought there may be something therein I may have missed out on for my research. Luckily, I had interviewed John Mitchum during a visit to the Lone Pine Film Festival and was able to get some wonderful quotes from the man at the time.
Since that time, I purchased a copy of the book on Ebay and was happy to discover it was also signed by the author!

Signature of John Mitchum.

That said, I was able to enjoy reading the tales of John and “Big Brother Bob” without trepidation that I had missed out on any important talking points John may have included, since he did indeed work with Lee Marvin on M Squad and also Point Your Wagon.  By the way, if you want to see some of “Big Brother Bob’s” best work, check out his astounding trilogy of films fro the early 70s: The Yakuza (produced by my agent, the late Mike Hamilburg) The Friends of Eddie Coyle & Farewell My Lovely. if they don’t make you a fan of his world-weary cynicism, then nothing will.
Anyway, below is the section of tales John wrote about Lee that includes thoughts on Jean Seberg, Ty Cabeen, and more. Enjoy…
– Dwayne Epstein

John Mitchum’s take on working with Lee Marvin.

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AWARD SEASON THEN & NOW

Award season is upon us and the majors have already begun with the Golden Globe Awards. Oscar nominations came out earlier this week and the the other guild and critic awards are looming large. Much has changed from the days when Lee Marvin won his only Oscar for Cat Ballou back in the mid-60s.

Lee Marvin backstage after winning his Oscar.

For one thing, the amount of competing awards could be counted on one hand. There wasn’t much beyond the Oscars and Golden Globes. The plethora of guilds and critics organizations had yet to boast of award shows that would ultimately make the Oscars anti-climatic as there are now, with or without a wisecracking host. Matter of fact, when Marvin won his Oscar, he was as surprised as anybody since the odds-on favorite was Rod Steiger for his work in The Pawnbroker. The entire episode of Marvin’s win is covered extensively, of course, in Lee Marvin Point Blank, including some nefarious behind-the-scenes machinations that even Marvin himself was not aware of.

Julie Andrews and Lee Marvin accepting their Golden Globes for being the most popular stars of 1967, which is no longer a category.

What got me thinking about these differences in the award season of days gone by and the ones of today, is an article I read online in which an Academy member bemoans the advent of streamers, screeners, and the like and the effect it has on the season itself. It can be read here but the point is laughable. Bottom line is just that there are too damn many awards shows! Want proof? I’m going to go out on limb and make my own predictions of this year’s Oscar winners as shown below. Feel free to check back after the show to see how right I was. There are:

Best Picture: 1917.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker.
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger for Judy.
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern for Marriage Story.

What’s my criteria? They’ve already won every other award leading up to the Oscars. Talk about anti-climatic! Somewhere Lee Marvin is laughing his war-wounded ass off.
– Dwayne Epstein

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PARAMOUNT PICTURES: THE BIG PUSH FOR 1969

Paramount Pictures, like every major studio in the 1960s, found itself in flux in dealing with the changing tastes and times of filmmaking. Everything was being tried as the feudalism of studio domination and the old production code was crumbling.
By chance, I came across a great little time capsule of this at a used bookstore and snapped it up. It was the business bible of the day and was referred to as The Film Daily Yearbook of Motion Pictures 1969 – The Fifty First Edition.

Cover of The Film Daily Yearbook, 1969.

The hefty tome encapsulated everything imaginable involving the film industry. The foreword of the more than 1,000 pages echoes the case for the changing film industry, stating, “Statistics are the accepted footprints of an industry’s progress and growth. Nineteen sixty-eight and the beginning of sixty-nine in the motion picture industry, both American and world-wide, were essentially a period of change. The record of those changes, major as well as minor, and their effect upon the industry will be chronicled on the pages of this, the 51st edition the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures.”
The forward is accurate as the pages are overflowing with stats and facts and more than a few colorful splash ads of various major and minor productions. Paramount Pictures was celebrating an anniversary that year and ran the following to tout the fact….

Paramount Pictures double page anniversary ad.

In the interest of being a trendsetter in the industry and not afraid to spend big bucks on a given project, Paramount spared no expense to show off its big upcoming production for 1969. It was a roadshow extravaganza, to be sure, and it was advertised as such. Check out the ad they went with…..

Paramount’s big, splashy ad for 1969.

It seem practically laughable now that this is where the time and effort of Paramount Pictures went for the transition year 1969, especially in view of the final product’s initial reception. However, hindsight as they say is 20/20 and in truth Paint Your Wagon is not nearly as bad as its reputation. Jut ask the film’s legion of fans. More astounding is the fact that the film even got made at all. That story is told in detail in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank and must be read to be believed. In the mean time, so long cinematic year 1969, we hardly knew ye.
– Dwayne Epsten

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