JUDGE ROY BEAN STARRING…..LEE MARVIN?

Judge Roy Bean, a legend of the old west, was indeed a real person ((1825-1903) and has been immortalized on screen countless times. The larger-than-life character of Bean would seem like a natural for the likes of Lee Marvin, who specialized in larger-than life portrayals. Apparently at one point, he almost was “The hanging Judge west of the Pecos.” 

      According to a recently discovered documentary (Milius 2013), it was Marvin who was the intended star of the 1973 film, The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean. I was amazed to only recently find this out as I would have included it in the appendix I did of nearly four dozen films Lee Marvin almost made as an exclusive extra in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Renowned artist Richard Amsel’s poster for the 1973 theatrical release of THE LIFE & TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN.


According to writer/director John Milius’s film school alum, George Lucas, in talking about Milius and the project: “He got a job to write Judge Roy Bean. Judge Roy Bean was one of the most brilliant screenplays I ever read. It just was magnificent and polished and good and it just blew everybody away.” Martin Scorsese chimed in with, “The work reflected a stand that was impenetrable. You couldn’t change it. This guy really believed in what he was saying.”
For the full story as to what transpired, John Milius himself takes over the story in an interview conducted long before his debilitating stroke:

Writer/director John Milius.


“It was sent to Lee Marvin. And Lee Marvin got the script. His agent sent it. And he was reading it and he really liked it. He got drunk and left it on his chair and went off and passed out somewhere [laughs]. And Newman picked it up and started reading it and took it away. He called his people in Los Angeles and said, ‘Buy this script. I wanna do this.’ So, they came to me and said, ‘We wanna buy this script.’ I said, ‘Fine. I wanna direct it.’ They said, ‘No, no. That’s not possible.’ 
   See, there were two prices. One that was really cheap with me directing it. The one that kept going up and up without me [was the other price]. They finally paid the price without me. In 1972-73, that was a helluva lot money. There is no good movie without a good script.
   It wasn’t at all the same movie. Huston wasn’t the right person to direct it and Newman certainly wasn’t the right person to act in it and they’re all terrific people. Paul Newman is on of the nicest, most intelligent people in the world. I can’t say anything against him. He just wasn’t right for that movie.”

On the set of POCKET MONEY made the year before in which Newman may have read Marvin’s copy of the script.


And so, there you have it. Yet another, and probably one of the strangest examples, of a property Marvin would have been great in but due to unusual circumstances, was not meant to be. Pity, really in as much as I liked the quirky film, Marvin would have been terrific!
– Dwayne Epstein 

The real Judge Roy Bean.

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GORKY PARK: MARVIN’S LATTER DAY BRILLIANCE

Gorky Park (1983), director Michel Apted’s adaptation of the popular Martin Cruz Smith thriller, was not well-recieved when first released but it may be worthy of re-evaluation. There are several reasons I say this but the main reason, is of course, Lee Marvin’s performance.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Michael Apted’s GORKY PARK.

It was not only one of the actor’s last films, it would be the last time he would play a classic villain, as he had earlier in his career. I don’t want to give a spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the film (which I highly recommend) so simply the premise will suffice here. It’s a complicated ‘whodunit’ in which Soviet-era police detective Arkady Renko (William Hurt) is tasked with finding who is responsible for the three mutilated bodies found in Gorky Park. There are several suspects and among them is shady American businessman, Jack Osborne (Marvin). To Marvin’s credit, as good as he looks in uniform, he looks even more impressive in the dapper expensive suits his character wears.  Watch the way he carries himself, as well. The brilliance mentioned are the touches the actor adds that are clearly not in the script. Dressing after a day at the sauna, he uses the back of his index fingers to straighten his collar and expensive tie he admires in the mirror. Then there’s the way he dallies the cat-and-mouse dialog with adversarial Hurt.

(L-R) Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne, William Hurt as Russian police detective Arkady Renko and Ian Bannen as Renko’s superior.

I genuinely believe it’s one of Marvin’s best performances that creates a through line of sorts to his career. Think of Paul Newman as the idealistic lawyer Anthony Lawrence of The Young Philadelphians (1959), and then the tragic alcoholic Frank Galvin of The Verdict (1982). There are other such examples to be made but I like to think that in Jack Osborne’s wilder youth he was not unlike the dapper yet violent Vince Stone of The Big Heat (1953). See Gorky Park and judge for yourself, of course.
As for the film, I was fortunate enough to interview British director Michael Apted for Lee Marvin Point Blank and his insights as to the films success and/or failure is on the money, as well as the fascinating anecdotes about its production. So check it out again wherever possible and give Lee Marvin’s performance a second look. I think you’ll pleasantly surprised.
– Dwayne Epstein

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MOVIE MAN WAVE ON ITS WAY…AND IT’S NOT THE FIRST TIME

Movie man wave? Whatever it is, it’s on its way, according to an article in Deadline Hollywood. I’m assuming the writer is trying to come up with a new, hip phrase along the lines of “Bro-mance,” or some other term in these days of viral social media. Based on the comment section he appears to be taking his lumps for it, too. Personally, I think ‘movie man wave’ is a terrible term but the movies he’s referring to all sound like winners. From Ford Vs. Ferrari to The Irishman and more, it’s looking to be a great end of the year movie season. Of course, nothing in Hollywood happens as a stand alone as Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood started the current trend last summer.
Truth be told, it’s a trend that actually started as far aback as silent movies, with the likes of What Price Glory? (1926). Some of the best early ones co-starred the likes of James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, or Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. When I was growing up such films were called ‘Buddy Movies,’ which made more sense than ‘Bro-mance or ‘Man Wave.’

Paul Newman and Lee Marvin may have lacked chemistry in POCKET MONEY but the film did allow for this wonderful candid image of Marvin that remains my favorite.

The actor who made more films in this realm? Probably Lee Marvin, whether as friends, rivals, or downright enemies, he worked with all the other major male stars in that capacity. It’s an impressive list that includes the likes of Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, John Wayne, Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune, Jack Palance, Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Robert Shaw, Richard Burton, Oliver Reed, practically the entire spectrum of male movie stars. The final result often varied in quality but the star power certainly didn’t. And what did Marvin think of this various and divergent list of co-stars? That answer can only be found in detail within the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

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