DIRTY DOZEN PODCAST

Dirty Dozen (1967) podcast came as a well-timed pleasant surprise. It proved to be the brainchild of the versatile Steve Rubin, a writer, director, producer and yes, podcaster extraordinaire. After having done a previous podcast a while ago, Rubin contacted  yours truly to ask if I’d be willing to do it again in which the subject would be a Dirty Dozen podcast to be done along with film historian and screenwriter Steve Mitchell (Chopping Mall-1986). Of course I said yes. 

Montage of images from The Dirty Dozen.


    I got to know Steve Rubin through the auspices of FIlmfax magazine. Publisher Mike Stein asked if I’d like to an interview Rubin following his publication of The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia which turned out pretty good. We would talk periodically and help each other with research projects as he invited to me to join him and Stave Mitchell on a previous podcast. There were a few false starts but eventually it came to pass and despite my overt enthusiasm, I think it came off rather well.
     The latest installment of Rubin’s “Saturday Night at The Movies” podcast is available for listening now and I think it also came off rather well. We ran the gamut in discussing Robert Aldrich’s classic, covering everything from its flaws, its cast, screenplay, and its lasting impact. I especially enjoyed talking about the contributions of Ken Hyman,  Bob Phillips, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown and Telly Savalas. I come off a little too much like a hyperactive fanyboy, as usual, but the points are all well made. Luckily, I not only got to share thoughts of from Lee Marvin Point Blank but also hint at what will be included in next year’s publication of my book dedicated to The Dirty Dozen entitled Killin’ Generals by Kensington Publishing. So, give a listen here and feel free comment, criticize or what have you. In other words, enjoy!

Pop culture podcaster, Steve Rubin


– Dwayne Epstein

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MEMORIAL DAY MARATHON

Memorial Day Marathon of classic war films has become a TCM staple these last several years and this year in no exception. This three day Memorial Day marathon of 39 films runs from Friday May 27th to Monday May 30th and includes some of the greatest war films ever made. Naturally, it would be impossible to show every great war film ever made — Lewis Milestone’s All Quite on The Western Front (1930) and Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H (1970) come to mind — but the films they are showing represent a pretty good cross-section of some of the best and most intense war films of all time. Driving home the point is a well-written Memorial Day Marathon essay that can be read here.
Most of these Memorial Day Marathon films I’ve seen (several times), while some I’m very much looking forward to seeing for the first time, such as the underrated Jeffrey Hunter in Hell to Eternity (1960) in the true story of a Marine veteran at the Battle of Saipan. Those interested in Lee Marvin’s experience at Saipan and the USMC’s Island hopping campaign in the Pacific can read it in his own words in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Lee Marvin & fellow Marines in the Pacific during WWII.

All times listed below for the TCM Memorial Day Marathon are Pacific Standard Time….

 

                                         FRIDAY, MAY 27
5:00 PM Twelve O’Clock High (1949) The head of a World War II bomber squadron cracks under the pressure. Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, Dean Jagger, Gary Merrill.
7:30 PM The Young and the Brave (1963) Three American POWs fight to escape from North Korea. Rory Calhoun, William Bendix, Richard Jaeckel.
9:15 PM Battleground (1949) American soldiers in France fight to survive a Nazi siege just before the Battle of the Bulge.  Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, James Whitmore.
11:30PM Go for Broke! (1951) The true story of World War II’s all Japanese-American Nisei unit. Van Johnson, Lane Nakano, George Miki.
                                              Saturday, May 28th
1:15 AM Torpedo Run (1958) A submarine commander is forced to blow up a Japanese prison ship carrying his family. Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Diane Brewster.
3:00 AM Darby’s Rangers (1958) An Army Major leads his men behind enemy lines during World War II. James Garner, Etchika Choureau, Jack Warden.
5:15 AM Flying Leathernecks (1951) A World War II Marine officer drives his men mercilessly during the battle for Guadalcanal. John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Don Taylor.
7:15 AM Thunder Afloat (1939) An old sailor is duped into joining the Navy, where he runs into a longtime rival. Wallace Beery, Chester Morris, Virginia Grey.
9:00AM For Me and My Gal (1942) Judy Garland (in her first adult role) and Gene Kelly (in his film debut) star in the classic WWI-era musical directed by Busby Berkeley. Judy Garland, George Murphy, Gene Kelly.
11:00 AM See Here, Private Hargrove (1944) A green recruit has a series of madcap adventures in the Army. Robert Walker, Donna Reed, Keenan Wynn.
1:00 PM Up Periscope (1959) A U.S. frogman infiltrates a Japanese-held island during World War II. James Garner, Edmond O’brien, Andra Martin.

3:00 PM Attack! (1956)

Lee Marvin as Col. Clyde Bartlett & Eddie Albert as Capt. Erskine Cooney in Robert Aldrich’s Attack!

Based on the play “Fragile Fox,” a cowardly captain leads his men into danger in WWII Belgium. Jack Palance, Eddie Albert, Lee Marvin, Willian Smithers, Buddy Ebsen, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Strauss.

5:00 PM From Here to Eternity (1953) Enlisted men in Hawaii fight for love and honor on the eve of World War II. Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Ernest Borgnine.
7:15 PM Fighter Squadron (1948) A dedicated flyer pushes himself and those around him during a perilous World War II campaign. Edmond O’brien, Robert Stack, John Rodney.

9:00 PM Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

Henchmen Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin watch as Spencer Tracy gets off the train and prepare to confront him in John Sturges’ Bad Day at a Black Rock.

A one-armed veteran uncovers small-town secrets when he tries to visit an Asian-American war hero’s family. Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Dean Jagger, John Ericson.

10:45 PM Breakthrough (1950) An American infantry unit moves from basic training to combat in Europe. David Brian, John Agar, Frank Lovejoy.

                                                Sunday, May 28th

12:30 AM Hell to Eternity (1960) A young man adopted by Japanese-Americans becomes a hero in World War II. Jeffrey Hunter, David Janssen, Vic Damone.
3:00 AM Ace of Aces (1933) After he’s branded a coward, a sculptor travels to France to help fight World War I. Richard Dix, Elizabeth Allen, Ralph Bellamy.
4:30 AM They Were Expendable (1945) After a demonstration of new PT boats, navy brass are still unconvinced of their capability. Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed.
7:00 AM Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Repeat of Saturday’s broadcast.
8:45 AM The Great Escape (1963) Drama based on Paul Brickhill’s factual account of the efforts of Allied P.OW.s daring escape. Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, David McCallum, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Donald.
11:45 Am The Steel Helmet (1951) Americans trapped behind enemy lines fight off Communists during the Korean War. Gene Evans, Robert Hutton, Steve Brodie, James Edwards, Sid Melton.
1:15 PM Action in the North Atlantic (1943) A Merchant Marine crew fights off enemy attacks at the start of World War II. Humphrey Bogart, Raymond Massey, Alan Hale.
3:30 PM December 7th (1943) After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. fights to survive the early days of WWII.  Walter Huston, Harry Davenport, Dana Andrews.
5:00 PM Destination Tokyo (1943) A U.S. sub braves enemy waters during World War II. Cary Grant, John Garfield, Alan Hale Sr., Dane Clark, Robert Hutton.
7:30 PM The Red Badge of Courage (1951) A young Union soldier fights to atone for a moment of cowardice during the Civil War. Audie Murphy, Andy Devine, Robert Easton Burke, Douglas Dick.
9:00 PM The Big Parade (1925) In this silent film, a young innocent enlists for World War I service but soon learns the horrors of war. John Gilbert, Renee Adoree, Hobart Bosworth.
11:45 PM The Cranes Are Flying (1957) A Russian woman is tormented by fears that her boyfriend has been killed in World War II. Tatyana Samoilova, Alexei Batalov, Vasili Merkuriev.
3:00 AM Till the End of Time (1946) A returning World War II veteran falls for a troubled war widow. Dorothy Mcguire, Guy Madison, Robert Mitchum.
5:00 AM Battle of the Bulge (1965) A crack Nazi unit holds off the Allies during World War II. Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson, Pier Angeli, James MacArthur, George Montgomery.
8:00 AM One Minute to Zero (1952) A U.S. colonel in Korea tries to evacuate American civilians. Robert Mitchum, Ann Blyth, William Talman.
10:00 AM Merrill’s Marauders (1962) Burma, 1944: The 5307th commanded by Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill is deep behind Japanese lines in the Burmese jungle. Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown, Claude Akins.
12:00 PM The Naked and the Dead (1958) A green lieutenant comes up against incompetent officers and a sadistic sergeant. Aldo Ray, Cliff Robertson, Raymond Massey. L.Q. Jones.
2:30 PM Sergeant York (1941) True story of the farm boy who made the transition from religious pacifist to World War I hero. Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias.
5:00 PM The Longest Day (1962) The Allied forces launch the D-Day invasion of German-occupied France. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Henry Fonda, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert, Sean Connery, Sal Mineo, Richard Burton, Richard Beymer, Robert Ryan, Rod Steiger, Red Buttons, Stuart Whitman, Steve Forrest, Mel Ferrer, Roddy McDowell.
8:15 PM Bataan (1943) Thirteen U.S. soldiers risk their lives to hold a bridge against the Japanese. Robert Taylor, George Murphy, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Nolan, Desi Arnaz.

10:30 PM The Dirty Dozen (1967)

An Angry Col. Breed (Robert Ryan) confronts rebellious Col. Reisman (Lee Marvin) in The Dirty Dozen.

A renegade officer trains a group of criminals for a crucial mission behind enemy lines. Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Robert Webber, Richard Jaeckel, Donald Sutherland, Clint Walker, Trini Lopez.

Tuesday, May 31st

1:15 AM Take the High Ground! (1953) A tough drill sergeant prepares green recruits for service in the Korean War. Richard Widmark, Steve Forrest, Maurice Jara, Robert Arthur, William Hairston.
3:00 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) General Jimmy Doolittle trains American troops for the first airborne attacks on Japan. Spencer Tracy, Phyllis Kirk, Van Johnson, Robert Walker, Tim Murdock, Robert Mitchum.
5:30 AM The Letter (1940) A woman claims to have killed in self-defense, until a blackmailer turns up with incriminating evidence. Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall, James Stephenson, Gale Sondergaard.
7:30 AM Objective, Burma! (1945) An elite team of paratroopers lands deep behind Japanese lines in the jungles of Burma. Errol Flynn, James Brown, William Prince, Henry Hull.
10:00 AM The Bridge on the River Kwai(1957) The Japanese Army forces World War II POWs to build a strategic bridge in Burma. William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins,  Geoffrey Horne, Sesue Hayakawa.

There you have it, TCM’s Memorial Day Marathon salute via some terrific films. Think of it as just one way to commemorate the holiday by honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. As they say in The Dirty Dozen: “Those ho gave their lives in the line of duty.”

– Dwayne Epstein.

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100 BEST FILMS OF ALL TIME

100 Best Films of All Time? Pretty impressive concept for a list, if I do say so myself. A gargantuan undertaking, to be sure, but I recently came across a website attempting to do just that. Granted, such lists have existed elsewhere, such as within the American Film Institute and elsewhere. What makes this particular list different is how updated it is to include films as recent as 2021.
   Therein lies the problem. I can understand updating a list every five or ten years or so. However, to be considered “the best” anything requires several aspects, most notably, the test of time. A film released last year may be considered great now but in a few years could be largely forgotten or considered overrated in its day. This particular list can be taken to task for just that reason among others. It also failed to acknowledge several known classics that has most definitely stood the test of time. There are no Capra classics on the list, such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) It Happened One Night (1934), and others. Also non-existent are the films of such stars as Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Jane Fonda, Steve McQueen, Meryl Streep or James Cagney. 
   Granted, such a list is highly subjective but the fact that this list was said to have been compiled by film critics makes me shake my head in disappointment as they really should have known better. Sure, nowadays everybody seems to be a film critic via social media, but if these acknowledged critics were really worthy of the title they should definitely know better!
   Okay, my rant is over…well, almost. There sis only one single solitary Lee Marvin movie on the list. No, not Point Blank (1967). Not The Dirty Dozen (1967), not even Bad Day at Black Rock (1955! The one film? Believe it or not, at number 78 — which puts it near the bottom — they chose this….

Lee Van Cleef (far left) watches as Lee ‘Liberty Valance’ Marvin holds his own up against film legends Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

And the worst part is they give away the twist ending without even a mention of a spoiler alert! I’ve always said any critic who gives away the ending of the film in a review should not be allowed to do their job. Unforgivable! 
    Okay, now the rant is over. Don’t just take my word for it in terms of the problematic aspects of the list. You can read this “100 Best Films” list for yourself by clicking this link. Read it and weep, as they used to say. In the mean time, you can always find out what made the likes of Lee Marvin more worthy of such a list, or any list for that matter, by reading Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

 

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