DIRTY DOZEN ON ICE SHOW!

Happy new year, faithful Lee Marvin Point Blank blog readers! And there’s no better way to start the new year off than with an ice show…Lee Marvin style. What’s that? You say you’re a devoted follower of the man’s life and work and yet never heard of his ice show contribution? Well, allow me to set the record straight for you non-believers.

Fear not, as you are not alone, since many are not familiar with the ice show spectacular known as The Dirty Dozen on Ice. It actually was the original entity of the classic WWII film, long before it was committed to celluloid. It seems TCM’s founder, Ted Turner so loved the brutal novel he envisioned an ice show spectacular not unlike the Ice Capades or Disney on Ice, but with slightly higher body count by production’s end.

Auditions were held at Turner’ residence in Georgia at a secret compound hidden away from prying eyes somewhere in Atlanta. TMZ did manage to get some paparazzi pix, however, as shown below…..

Veteran actors show up at the secret compound’s audition in uniform, knowing it will help them secure a role. These finalist make the cut as Reisman tells them what their role entails.

With a veteran cast of more macho than usual skaters in place, a read-thru was conducted in which all the participants committed their part to memory…..

The entire cast pictured at The Dirty Dozen On Ice’s first script read thru.

Auditions and read thru behind them, all concerned dedicated themselves to the hard work before opening night. It was not easy of course, and some of the ensemble balked violently at last minute cuts made to the extravaganza due to length and possible exhaustion…..

Posey learns from Major Reisman that his rain dance has been cut from the ice show and he reacts accordingly. Luckily, Reisman’s skill with props on ice helps subdue the gentle giant.

Final kinks worked out, including the difficult finale at the Nazi’s High Command compound, dress rehearsals then began. Some of the cast of characters, who shall reman nameless, took it upon themselves to do a little fancy improvising during dress….

Sgt. Bowren shows off a little during dress rehearsal.

Executive producer Ted Turner utilized his considerable influence to secure an appropriate venue for the production’s secretive out-of-the-way premiere…..

Opening night marquee of Dirty Dozen on Ice at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

All the hard work apparently paid off, as witnessed by the audience’s reaction. It proved to be so successful, that fortunately, an MGM executive was in the audience opening night. He pulled Turner aside, made an offer, bought the film rights, and the rest, as they say, is cinematic history.

Sadly, the contract called for only one performance of the well-honed spectacle. It didn’t even get chance to compete with Disney’s Frozen. Luckily, some rare footage was recently discovered! So, without further adieu, I give you the rarely seen “Best of” footage of….. THE DIRTY DOZEN ON ICE! Enjoy!

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THE PROFESSIONALS (1966): ONE OF LEE MARVIN’S BEST

TCM will be airing writer/director Richard Brooks’ The Professionals(1966) today at 8pm EST (5pm PST), one of Lee Marvin’s best and over time, least appreciated films. Within the genre of action films it is without question one of the best of its kind, with several Oscar nominations to its credit to prove it. The dialogue is smart and witty, the plot filled with unexpected twists, the performances are all top notch and the efforts behind the camera are equally impressive. From Conrad Hall’s eye-filling photography to Maurice Jarre’s rousing score, everything clicks.
Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know the depth, challenges and ultimate rewards that went into the film’s production. I was fortunate enough to interview co-stars Woody Strode, Jack Palance, stuntman Tony Epper and production manager Phil Parslow, who have all since passed on. They’re exclsuive tales of making the classic are eye-opening and gvie no small amount of credit to Marvin himself. Whether taking it upon himself to keep the film’s guns clean in the unpredictable desert conditions, or ensuring co-star Woody Strode recieved proper credit, Marvin’s contribution can not be overestimated. So, in honor of its hopeful rediscovery, check out some of the rare graphics below…

(L-R) Title cast members Woody Strode, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster watch unobtrusively as Jack Palance and his revolutioniaries attack a federal troop train.

(L-R) Title cast members Woody Strode, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Burt Lancaster watch unobtrusively as Jack Palance and his revolutioniaries attack a federal troop train.

Sweating it out on the film's location in Nevada's Valley of Fire.

Sweating it out on the film’s location in Nevada’s Valley of Fire.

Lee Marvin's opening scene in which, according to producer, Phil Parslow, was the only time he filmed a scene drunk in the entire movie, despite many stories to the contrary.

Lee Marvin’s opening scene in which, according to producer, Phil Parslow, was the only time he filmed a scene drunk in the entire movie, despite many stories to the contrary.

Back when movie theaters offered souvenir programs for certain films, the page highlighting Marvin's background stated in typical ballyhoo fashion that he decided to become an actor while convalescing from his war wounds. LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK readers know better.

Back when movie theaters offered souvenir programs for certain films, the page highlighting Marvin’s background stated in typical ballyhoo fashion that he decided to become an actor while convalescing from his war wounds. LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK readers know better.

Original print ad from the film's pressbook highlighting the film's critical response.

Original print ad from the film’s pressbook highlighting the film’s critical response.

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LIBERTY VALANCE: IN HONOR OF THE TCM FEST SCREENING

Since the TCM Classic Film Fest is full swing, I thought I’d post a blog about The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which was recently screened at the festival. Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank are already familiar with some of the intrigiuing details and anecdotes that went into the making the John Ford classic.

A pre-release ad from a movie magazine in which the p.r. people had some rhyming fun.

A pre-release ad from a movie magazine in which the p.r. people had some rhyming fun.

I was extremely fortunate to interview Lee Marvin’s career long agent Meyer Mishkin, who got his first big boost in the business thanks to the irascible Ford. Mishkin answered many questions for me, and, as Point Blank readers discovered, helped me discover what Ford thought of Marvin, what Marvin thought of Ford. Readers also found out why Marvin thought he’d be fired just before he started work on the film, what Marvin’s ten-year-old son said when he was introduced to John Wayne, and infinitely more.

A pure ballyhoo production article from SCREEN STORIES, June, 1962.

A pure ballyhoo production article from SCREEN STORIES, June, 1962.

 

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There’s also nothing like getting information from one who was there and Woody Strode fit the bill. His hilarious tale of the first time he ever met Marvin — on the set of Valance — is a personal favorite, and one that proved to be the beginning of the end for Marvin’s first marriage. Marvin and Strode bonded during the filming of Liberty Valance and the friendship deepened through the years. They didn’t always see each other often through the years but, like most great friendships, time had no meaning. Below, in Woody Strode’s own words, is a wonderful unpublished tale that illustrates the point:
“Now, I stayed in Europe for years. I came home and I hadn’t seen Lee for about four years. I got a job in New Mexico called The Gatling Gun. By now, I got a Mercedes. The good life had touched me. I called Lee. I said, ‘Lee, I’m working in New Mexico and I’m coming to see you when I finished.’ We finished the picture. I didn’t let him know I was driving a Mercedes. Well baby, it took a couple of days for us get there. I parked out in front of the house, I think in Tucson. I honked the horn. He come out saying, ‘Who the hell is honking that horn?’ He come outside and I said, ‘Hello, you son-of-a-bitch.’ He said ‘Woody, you finally…’ I said, ‘You see what I’m driving?I got to the fucking money, in a foreign country!’ That’s the type of relationship we had…. So, we had our little weekend. Pamela [Lee’s second wife] didn’t know me like that but she heard about me. When I got there, a writer from Australia was doing an article on Lee Marvin. He saw our relationship and said, ‘You guys are like brothers.’ I been in Europe almost four years and he ain’t seen me in years. I’m in a Mercedes, got a little bank account. It made him feel good.”
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