JAMES GUNN, SUICIDE SQUAD & LEE MARVIN

James Gunn and Lee Marvin are not two names often associated with each other but surprisingly, recent news via a Google search has done just that. 
Director James Gunn, of Guardians of the Galaxy fame, is also the director of the new and highly anticipated Suicide Squad movie reboot for 2021. He recently tweeted that one film and one film only was the inspiration for the upcoming all-star comic book film and that film was another all-star production from a few decades earlier. That’s right. None other than The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Opening image I used for LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK is the actor’s performance of Major John Reisman in The DIRTY DOZEN, the film that helped make him the number one male box office star in the country.


Matter of fact, the news generated an online story, just a few days ago. I’m not a particular fan of comic book inspired films but I did grow loving comic books, especially D.C. superhero ones. Knowing that, the revelation involving The Dirty Dozen hardly came as a surprise. There were similiar titles even more effective, such as Marvel’s Sgt. Fury and The Howling Commandos. The same Sgt. Fury would later become Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., the only Marvel title I liked, as written and drawn by the great Jim Steranko. But I digress….
 Glad to see Marvin’s most well-known film getting it’s just respect. Of course, it’s influence is far more reaching that that. It proved to be the inspiration for several other films, as well. A short list would include:
• Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds (2009), which at one point was to include a character named ‘Babe’ Buchinsky to be played by Michael Madsen, as an homage to Dirty Dozen costar, Charles Bronson. 
• Joe Dante’s fantasy film Small Soldiers (1998), featuring voices of several original cast members.
• The original Italian version of Tarantino’s film with Bo Svenson and Fred WIlliamson, The Inglorious Bastards (1978). Note the spelling difference which Tarantino has never fully explained. 
• Even Roger Corman’s Secret Invasion (1964) used the same premise which predates the novel’s publication by a year. Makes you wonder if Corman knew something the author didn’t.
Kind of makes you wonder if perhaps the premise is based on fact. According to the original novel’s author, E.M. Nathanson: “This story is fiction. I have heard a legend that there might have been men like them, but nowhere in the archives of United States Government or in its military history did I find it recorded.”

Makes sense but then again just because it’s not recorded, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
– Dwayne Epstein

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MERV GRIFFIN INTERVIEWS LEE MARVIN: 1985

Merv Griffin, the former big band singer and later TV talk show host/game show producer, interviewed Lee Marvin on his show many times. Marvin was a natural on talk shows, with his rolling eyes and mugging takes to the audience.

Screen capture of Lee Marvin being interviewed by Merv Griffin, circa 1985.

Long before the advent of streaming media or video-on-demand, the public could purchase box sets of old TV shows that came from the vaults that producers would pick and choose the “Best of…” Griffin’s long running show, first on a major network and then later in syndication, boasted many fascinating guests that I often looked forward to seeing on a daily basis. In 2006, he wisely entered the arena of public consumption by doing such a box set of his interviews.

Cover of Merv Griffin’s box set.

I wasn’t particularly a fan of the show as Griffin’s interview style was a bit annoying but the guests who agreed to be on his show was often worth tuning in for. Check out the graphics on the box set to drive the point home….

Back of the Merv Griffin DVD box set listing the remarkable guest list.

I wanted to post the interview he did with Lee on this blog a while ago but unfortunately, I’m not technically proficient enough to pull that off. Luckily, via social media someone else did and it’s quite a fascinating throwback. Griffin asks Marvin about working with the likes of Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny) and Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock),  answering similarly as he did in his interview with Charles Bronson. Best of all, Griffin includes a clip from an interview he did with Marvin and Jim Brown in England while they were making The Dirty Dozen.

(L-R) Jim Brown, Lee Marvin & Merv Griffin in The Red Lion Pub in England.

Okay, enough prologue. On with the clip linked below.
Notice how I never once mentioned my award-winning NY Times Bestseller, Lee Marvin Point Blank…..until now.
-Dwayne Epstein

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TRINI LOPEZ SUCCUMBS TO COVID-19

Trini Lopez, renowned entertainer and costar of Lee Marvin’s The Dirty Dozen, passed away recently, a victim of the Corona virus pandemic. He was 83  years old. 

Original DIRTY DOZEN vinyl soundtrack cover featuring Trini Lopez.

He was one of the film’s last surviving stars and despite his character’s early offscreen death (explained by Clint Walker in Lee Marvin: Point Blank), he remained popular with audiences throughout his life. 
 I was not all that familiar with his background until I read his obit recently. Quite fascinating stuff, in my opinion. Now that he’s gone, that leaves only Donald Sutherland (85) and Jim Brown (84) still alive from the original cast of stars. It is with that in mind, I present some rare graphics highlighting Trini Lopez’s small yet important contribution to the creation and promotion of the now classic 1967 war film. Rest in Peace, Trini…..
– Dwayne Epstein

Back of the original soundtrack album that lists all the film’s music cues and placement in the film. Too bad all soundtracks don’t do this.

From the rarely seen program to THE DIRTY DOZEN in which the huge cast describe their own characters, including Trini Lopez. Much of these quotes were also used for the film’s trailer.

MAD Magazine’s parody, entitled DIRTIER BY THE DOZEN, includes this funny little depiction of Lopez by cartoonist Mort Drucker, as “Jose Jimenez.”

From my own record collection (yes, I am fan of his music!), the back cover to one of his several live performance albums. Check out the lineup of musicians! Jesse Lopez is Trini’s brother.

An extremely strange news clipping from the late 70s during the infamous palimony suit : (L-R) Lopez, Michele Triola, Marvin Mitchelson, Gloria Allred (yes, THAT Gloria Allred) and Bill Dana. Don’t know what he’s doing with his hands but he was the original “Jose Jimenez.”

 

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