THE DIRTY DOZEN IN THE FILMS OF THE SIXTIES

Long gone, the publishing company Citadel Press put out of series of books as “The Films Of..” which focused on actors, genres, directors and decades, with The Films of The Sixties being a prime example. Written by Douglas Brode and published in 1980, it contains a series of essays chosen by the author in chapters broken down by each year within the decade. Brode was one of the better writers in Citadel’s stable and his insight into a given film is highly perceptive. That’s the good news about this title. The bad news is   in the amount of information he got wrong, either by misinformation or by omission.  By omission it can be stated that he includes only two Lee Marvin films in his assessment, The Professionals and The Dirty Dozen. Since the book came out in 1980, the cult status and influence of Point Blank was well enough established to have included in the book, as well as several others.

The cover of the Citadel Press book, THE FILMS OF THE SIXTIES by Douglas Brode.

When researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, I perused all available sources but was left wanting by Brode’s essay on the film. Why, you may ask? Well, the essay is below but here’s what to look for in terms of what went wrong.
-Donald Sutherland may be complimented to be referred to as intellectual but he’s certainly not English. He was born and raised in Canada and his character, Vernon Pinkley is neither Southern nor retarded. Slow-witted maybe, but his standout scene inspecting Robert Ryan’s troops shows him to be anything but retarded.
– Jim Brown’s character of R.T. Jefferson (Napoleon White in the novel) has good reason to be anti-white but Trini Lopez was certainly not his character’s Puerto Rican sidekick. Brown’s sidekick in the film is clearly Charles Bronson’s character.
– Although it’s a point that’s open to interpretation, Maggot’s murder of the young German girl is hardly on par with the inceneration of german officers and their civilian female counterparts.
– The author even misspelled Telly Savalas’ TV alter ego, Theo Kojak. Oy!
His overall assessment of the film and its importance is on the money, but the wince-inducing mistakes left me cold. This month being the 50th anniversary of The Dirty Dozen’s release, I invite you read for yourself the essay written on the film’s impact….

Page 1 of Douglas Brode’s DIRTY DOZEN essay.

Page 2 of DIRTY DOZEN essay.

Conclusion of DIRTY DOZEN essay.

Share

WHAT LEE MARVIN REALLY THOUGHT OF THE DIRTY DOZEN

The Dirty Dozen, the biggest box office hit Lee Marvin had in his career, was released in theaters June 15, 1967 and in the 50 years since, fans have speculated what Marvin really thought about the film. Despite social media comments to the contrary, in my nearly 20 years of researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, nowhere have I found any reliable quotes attributed to the actor in which he claimed to dislike the film. How that got started I have no idea, but I do know that Marvin had his opinion of the film and it was not a negative one. As late as 1986, a year before he died, he told the L.A. Daily News in his own inimitable style: “Here I am a reclusive major going no place in the military, and they really want to court martial me. So rather than do that they say, ‘Let’s kill him doing something good for the movement.’ They get me all these baddies and we go over and blow ourselves up getting the German generals. So that’s it — the American underdog, right?” Does that sound like someone who didn’t like the film and did it only for the money? By the way, it may not seem like it looking at the final products, but Marvin never did a film just for the money, and that includes such bombs as Paint Your Wagon, The Klansman, Pocket Money, and more. The script is what ignited his interest, but of course the sizable paydays helped. So, for the record, Marvin was as proud of The Dirty Dozen as he was of any of the films he ever made.
The making of the film provided some of the best anecdotes I ever encountered in researching his life — the tales of costar and Marvin crony Bob Phillips (Cpl. Morgan) being a prime example — but for that, you must read the book!
In the meantime, here’s a rare 1967 British magazine heralding the film’s release. Enjoy and all hail The Dirty Dozen on its 50th anniversary!

November 1967 cover of ABC FILM REVIEW highlighting the release of The Dirty Dozen.

ABC FILM REVIEW pp. 1-2

Double trunk spread of ABC FILM REVIEW article. Sorry for the cut-off caption. Blame my scanner.

Article page 3

Dirty Dozen article featuring artwork and quotes used in the film’s advertising.

Article page 4

ABC FILM REVIEW

FINAL PAGE

ABC FILM REVIEW article conclusion.

 

Share

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!

Share