DECEMBER ON TCM

December on TCM is upon us and with it, comes a rather paltry amount of entries for Lee Marvin fans. In fact, from what I can tell, they’re not airing a single one of his films this December. However, there are a couple of little gems being aired during the month that might be of interest in terms of Lee Marvin’s life and legacy. All times are PST….

The Snow of Kilimanjaro (1952) Thursday, December, 3rd at 12:45am

Susan Hayward comforts gangrene-stricken Gregory Peck in the overblown SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO.


Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know the importance of this Hemingway tale to the Marvin oeuvre, despite this bastardized version Hollywood did to this poignant short story. Starring Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Ava Gardner, this lush looking Twentieth-Century Fox production bears almost no resemblance to what the author wrote, which is why he hated so many of the films made of his stories. Of course, in fairness, Lee Marvin’s The Killers, based on Hemingway’s short story suffered the same fate which might be rather Karmic in its own way.

On Dangerous Ground (1952) Thursday, December 3rd, 3:00am

Marvin costar Robert Ryan as psycho cop Jim Wilson near opening of ON DANGEROUS GROUND.


Frequent Marvin costar Robert Ryan could be pretty villianous when he had to be and I personally don’t think he was ever more frighteningly so than in this taut little thriller directed by cult filmmaker Nick Ray and costarring Ida Lupino and Ward Bond. It’s on in the wee small hours but if interested in watching any part of it, by all means watch the scene early on when Ryan threatens an informer and then follows through on his threat (“Why do you make me do it?!”) He’s never been scarier. As for Ryan’s thoughts on Lee Marvin. I was privileged to get some insight into that from his daughter, Lisa Ryan.

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) Tuesday, December 15th, 9:45am

Gloria Grahame appreciating her Oscar for THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.



Lee Marvin’s The Big Heat costar Gloria Grahame won her only Oscar for Best Supporting actress in this wildly overrated expose’ of a Hollywood cad that everybody hates and loves at the same time. Kirk Douglas plays the cad with Barry Sullivan, pouty-mouthed Lana Turner and Dick Powell as satellites to Douglas’s burning sun. Grahame plays Powell’s smalltown pouty-lipped wife who craves the attention of hollywood glamor. Director Vicente Minelli won many plaudits for this behind-the-scenes expose’ but I found it to be just okay. Watch and see for yourself if you think Grahame was more deserving of an Oscar for this or for her role as Debbie, Lee Marvin’s scar-faced moll in The Big Heat. My opinion is obvious.

Susan Slept Here (1954) Saturday, December 19th, 11am & Christmas morning, 9:15am.

(L-R) Glenda Farrell, Alvy Moore and Debbie Reynolds.


Speaking of Dick Powell, he stars in this bit of froth that has almost no connection to Lee Marvin at all….almost. Powell’s last screen appearance has him playing a middle-aged writer who gets the surprise of his life on Christmas Eve in the person of juvenile delinquent Debbie Reynolds. The Marvin connection? One of the film’s supporting players is Alvy Moore, better known as Mr. Kimble, “Green Acres” befuddled county agent. Moore was also a decorated WWII Marine and very good friend of the young Marvin who told this author that the buzz on him for this film actually got him more roles and talk of an Oscar nomination. Watch and see if the buzz was worthy as he said which had his buddy Marvin more than a little envious.  
Well, there you have it, A rather dismal holiday feast for Lee Marvin fans but some interesting nuggets, none the less. Hopefully, January and 2021 will bring some better viewing choices. Anything has got to be better than 2020.
– Dwayne Epstein

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LISA RYAN, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT RYAN & A WONDERFUL SURPRISE

Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, has recently been back in touch with me. You may recall, that a while back she gave me permission to post our talk about her father. She also gave me one of my favorite stories about the making of The Dirty Dozen (1967) which of course went into Lee Marvin Point Blank that just has to be read to be appreciated!
Well, after discovering the documentary Rick Spalla did on Lee Marvin, which included an interview with her father, I just naturally had to let her know about it. We reconnected conversationally and she told me that due to the pandemic, she had been in the midst of decluttering her belongings when she made an interesting discovery. Among her treasures were a series of photos taken on the set of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh of the entire cast! She not only sent the scans of them to me, she gave me permission to post them here on my blog.
Lee Marvin Point Blank readers know that I was fortunate enough to interview director John Frankenheimer, costar Jeff Bridges and several others who told me great stories about the making of the rarely seen gem. However, these images say just as much. The photographer went simply by the name “Orlando” and obviously by the signatures these were all meant for Robert Ryan’s personal collection…..

Lee Marvin as Hickey: “To Robert Hit’em again Lee”

The sitting with Lee Marvin was apparently part of the film’s publicity as this now defunct magazine cover shows…

 

 

When all is said and done, Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, came thru with a wonderful surprise. So, without further ado, I give you classic images from THE ICEMAN COMETH…..

Fredric March as Harry Hope: “To Robert Ryan God Bless — always Fredric March 1973”

Jeff Bridges as Don Parritt: “Bob — Acting and especially knowing you, has been very special, Jeff Bridges”

Director John Frankenheimer: “Bob with admiration and grand thanks  John Frankenheimer”

Bradford Dillman as Willie Oban: “Bob — O’Neill has been kind to both of us and you have been especially kind to him! Cheers!
Brad Dillman”

Sorrell Booke as Hugo Kalmar: “Dear Bob – Don’t be a fool
Buy me a drink
Love
Sorrell Booke”

Hilda Brooks as Margie

Juno Dawson as Pearl: “Dear Bob,
Lovely working with you!
Love,
Juno”

Evans Evans (Mrs. Frankenheimer) as Cora: “Dear Bob,
With love,
Evans”

Martyn Green as ‘The Captain’: “From one old soak to another,
It’s been fun, Bob!
Martyn”

 

 

Moses Gunn as Joe Mott (unsigned).

John McLiam as Jimmy Tomorrow: “Dear Bob,
You are the kindest man among us,
John McLiam”

Stephen Perlman as Chuck Morello: “Bob – Looking forward to seeing The Master Builder [???] Stephen Pearlman”

Tom Pedi as Rocky Pioggi: “To Robert Ryan,
Tom Pedi”

 

Obviously, not all of the cast members are pictured here. Notably absent are Clifton James (“Pat McGloin”), George Voskovec (“The General”), and most obvious of all, Robert Ryan (“Larry Slade”). Fortunately, Lisa was able to find the following cast photos (seen below  after all the individual portraits) that does indeed include her father and the rest of the entire cast….

Cast & crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH with individual signatures.

An ever better view is the following close-up images….

Cast and crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH in close-up.

(L-R) Tom Pedi, Evans Evans, Stephen Perlman, unidentified, Moses Gunn, John McLiam (seated), Jeff Bridges, Fredric March, George Voskovec (seated), John Frankenheimer, Clifton James (seated), Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Juno Dawson & Hildy Brooks (seated), Martyn Green & Bradford DIllman (seated).

Finally, since this was graciously donated by the daughter of Robert Ryan, I’ve taken the liberty to include this poignant tribute to her father from the film’s playbill written by L.A. Times film critic, Charles Champlin…

Charles Champlin’s tribute to Robert Ryan.

And so there you have it: Some rare and fitting tributes to an underrated classic and a legendary postwar actor desperately worthy of rediscovery. Lisa Ryan, I am forever in your debt. Stay safe, everyone!
– Dwayne Epstein

 

 

 

 

 

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RICK SPALLA: 1960’S LEE MARVIN DOCUMENTARY

Rick Spalla, an independent TV producer of entertainment news shows of substance (i.e. not TMZ or Entertainment Tonight), was one of the first people I sought when I began working on my Lee Marvin biography. I had learned of a TV documentary he had done on Marvin back in 1969 and was desperate to see it and find out more about it. Glad I did.
Don’t recall how I managed it back in those pre-internet days of the 1990s, but I secured an interview with Rick Spalla who graciously let me view the show in his studio on a moviola he set up. The 16 mm film was hardly HD, and stopping and starting it to take proper notes was a challenge, but it was well-worth it for the nuggets of info I was able to mine and put in the book.
Spalla died in 2001 and I never did get to see the show again, that is until now.

Lee Marvin being interviewed by Joe Hyams on location in Oregon during PAINT YOUR WAGON as they enjoy the rehearsal of The Nitty Gritty Band.

Imagine my surprise when Facebook friend and fellow film biographer, Gabriel Hershman, wrote me recently to tell me the show has been posted on YouTube! He sent me the link and I viewed it again as if for the first time. It really was well-done and holds up extremely well, in my opinion.
In fact, it reminded me of the quote I got from Spalla as to how his idea for the show came about: “Initially, I was planning to do the show about Keenan [Wynn] and his racing. Keenan invited Lee along. Then, over the years, Lee just got to be such a big star, we had to do one about him once the series started.”

Closing credit from the show PORTRAIT: LEE MARVIN.

Several of the people interviewed for the show had passed away by the time I began working on Lee Marvin Point Blank. Thanks to Spalla, I was able to get quotes from the likes of Keenan Wynn, Robert Ryan, Jack Webb, and others all of which went in the book. Readers know I also got first person exclusives myself with the show’s other guests, like Terry Moore, Eliot Silverstein, Angie Dickinson and more, so feel free to check those out, as well.
All in all rediscovering the show on YouTube thanks to Gabriel Hershman, was a revelation.

Author Gabriel Hershman’s biography of Albert Finney (above) is HIGHLY recommended.

Marvin was candid and whimsical during the on location interview, the film clips are well-placed and the anecdotes told about him are wonderful.

As to Rick Spalla’s opinion of his subject, he told me: “He lived life to the fullest. He loved living. We went down to Mazatlan so I could film him fishing and he was in heaven. He called it ‘Margarita time.’ On the first day he caught 6 sailfish and a marlin. When he was fishing, he was like a kid with a toy. As if he had all the toys in the world. He’d catch a fish and couldn’t wait to throw the line out again. It was like a movie or something. After the first day, he wanted me to go out with him again, but I had enough.”
Luckliy, for the rest of us, we can now see what he meant. So, without further ado, I give you Portrait: Lee Marvin, part one and part two. or click the images below. Thanks again, Gabriel!

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