ROGER FRISTOE INTERVIEW WITH LEE MARVIN

Roger Fristoe, insightful freelancer for Turner Classic Movies (TCM) contacted me a while back when I had blogged about Raintree County. At the time I hadn’t known Roger very well but have since gotten to him better via Facebook. He had good things to say about Lee Marvin Point Blank so naturally, I had to get to know him better. Well, since this week is the anniversary of the opening of Raintree County, I asked him if he’d let me run the interview he did with Marvin back in 1986 for The Courier-Journal in Louisville, KY, and he agreed.
The opening before the piece is the e-mail response I’ve included here to give a little more interesting background to Marvin’s performance. Here then, in all its glory, is the interview with Lee Marvin conducted by Roger Fristoe on the making of Raintree County

Sunday magazine cover for Roger Fristoe’s piece on RAINTREE COUNTY for the Lexington Courier that included the sidebar interview with Lee Marvin.



“Hi Dwayne,
The Marvin piece was a sidebar to the main story and ran with it. I thought that gave it more prominence. Something that didn’t get into the piece…I told him that I loved his reading of his final line, “I’m from Raintree County!” He said it was an inspiration of the moment as they were shooting the scene that he added that element of surprise: how could this son of Raintree County come to this end??? ….. ” I may have told you that I wrote to all the surviving stars at the time of the story requesting phone interviews, and he was the only one who called. I was quite startled at work that day to pick up the phone and hear that booming voice: “Hey Roger, it’s Lee Marvin, what can I do for you?”

   Hope you enjoy — all the best, Roger Fristoe”
 
Lee Marvin Remembers
“Raintree County” – and Kentucky
“‘Raintree County was the last big film of its kind from MGM and, along with “Paint Your Wagon, my only exposure to that kind of spectacular production you associate with the old days. I thought it was a great book and a great film. But Civil War stories haven’t done well in years, except for those two ‘North and South series on TV. [According to Lee Marvin:}
“Everybody was in love with Elizabeth Taylor. Even today, when you see her, she just makes you want to smile all over. But she and Monty Clift were locked into a kind of privacy that I didn’t really share. I wasn’t really a noted actor at that time and have never been a leading man in the sense of people climbing all over you and tearing your clothes off. In Danville, I immediately mixed in with the locals with no problem.
“My memory now is not so much the film as those people who were so generous and so conducive to making us feel at home there in Kentucky. And, for God’s sake, this was a Yankee story! Now, Kentucky may have been a border state during the Civil War, but it leaned toward the South, right? I got a great kick out of the whole business of all those Rebs cast as extras and dressed in the blue uniforms of the Yankee army. I told ’em, “Look at it this way: this time you’re gonna win!”

(L-R) Lee Marvin and Montgomert Clift as ‘Bummers’ during the Civil War scene in RAINTREE COUNTY.

“You have an awful lot of time to kill between setups, and you’ve got to keep the juices flowing, so I spent a lot of time talking to the extras and helping them get into the spirit of the thing. When they marched by with a flag, I’d yell, “Don’t just wave it. Snap that flag! I’d get ’em going. And they were marvelous about it.
“My memories of the whole project are absolutely stunning. I kept my nose pretty clean, and the local people accepted me very well. They showed me great courtesy and made the location one of the most pleasant I’d ever worked on. It was amazing the things they did for us, the way they opened up their homes to us, the care they took of us. Everyone there was easygoing and accepting as long as you were genteel yourself.
“My mother is from Virginia, and she had brought me up to practice a certain kind of manners. When you do things in a cordial and acceptable manner, people respond in kind.” 

(L-R) Rod Taylor, Nigel Patrick, director Edward Dmytryk (standing), Elizabeth Taylor, Montgmery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Agnes Moorhead and Walter Abel.


– Dwayne Epstein
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DIRTY DOZEN ON ICE SHOW HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR!

Happy holidays, faithful Lee Marvin Point Blank blog readers! And there’s no better way to enjoy the holidays 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.

You are not alone, as there ae others unfamiliar 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 a 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 and happiest of holidays!
– Dwayne Epstein

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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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