MOVIEFONE: 57 GREATEST WESTERNS

Moviefone, the ubiqiutous movie info and streaming site, decided to rank the 57 greatest westerns of all time and to its credit, three Lee Marvin classics are on the list.

Original poster to SEVEN MEN FROM NOW with 3rd billed Lee Marvin.

Poster to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

Poster art for THE PROFESSIONALS.




I came across the Moviefone list by chance only recently as it was posted back in 2017. I mention this since it was posted in honor of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood’s mutual birthdate of May 31st. Eastwood is now an amazing 91 years old!
  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of “Best Of….” lists, especially since there are bound to be some obvious omissions. This list is no exception, despite the inclusion of three Lee Marvin films, the single best of his westerns was indeed omitted. The full list can be read here
Upon reading it it’s seems to be rather weak on any Gary Cooper classics, save for High Noon, which belongs on any list of great westerns. Where is The Westerner (1940) or Along Came Jones (1945) or The Virginian (1929)? 
 Also, if you’re going to include such western comedies as Way Out West and Destry Rides Again, why not Support Your Local Sheriff and of course, Cat Ballou? Also missing are such personal favorites How the West Was Won (1962) as well as Tom Horn (1980) and the string of 1972 greats of The Cowboys, When Legends Die, Bad Company, and The Culpepper Cattle Company
Okay, enough griping…well, what the hell is TV-movie mini-series Lonesome Dove doing on the list? Okay, griping over. As to the reason this is even posted in a blog dedicated to the life and career of Lee Marvin, author Gary Susman did have the presence of mind to include the three Lee Marvin films, all good choices but once again, left out the best of the bunch. No, not the aforementioned Cat Ballou
It’s not only one of Lee’s best films and performances, it’s one of the best westerns ever made. Any guesses? 
Of course, any more info needed or wondered about can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, in the immortal words of Bruce Willis, “yippie-kay-ay, mutha….”
 – Dwayne Epstein

Monte Walsh, 1970

 

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LIBERTY’S WHIP

Liberty’s Whip may not sound like an apt title for a classic surf music instrumental but for a short time it actually was. According to an article I recently read online, the surf music craze of the early 1960’s included the monster hit “Pipeline” by The Chantays which reached #4 on the Billboard pop charts. According to a quote in the L.A.Times by The Chantays’ Bob Spickard:
“When we wrote it after school, just plugging our guitars in and doodling, we originally called it ‘Liberty’s Whip’ because we were big Liberty Valance fans,…Then we went to a surf movie at high school–I’m sure it was one of Bruce Brown’s–and they had a big shot of the Pipeline (one of Hawaii’s best but most dangerous surf breaks), and we went, ‘Wow, far out!'” 

Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance & Edmond O'Brien as Dutton Peabody.

Lee Marvin brandishes his quirt, a.k.a. Liberty’s whip, as Shinbone Star editor Dutton Peabody (Edmond O’Brien) dramatically awaits Valance’s next move.


  Not earth-shaking news, but just a little tidbit I never knew and recently discovered. I still think the title “Liberty’s Whip” sounds pretty cool and might even make a great name for a rock band. 
 As to the more famous musical incarnation of the film, as most fans of the film know, Gene Pitney’s song was never used in the film and no one is quite sure why. Rumor has it the film’s director, John Ford, heard it and hated it. Kind of a shame I think as I feel it fits pretty well, especially since the music by Burt Bacharach has a western tweak and the lyrics by Hal David does an impressive job of dramatically setting up the climax of the film without giving away the twist. Oh well. I know fans of the film who agree with Ford’s assessment which is why there’s no mention of it in Lee Marvin Point Blank. There is, however, several great anecdotes about the film, such as the hilarious one Christopher Marvin told me about the time his father introduced him to John Wayne. It’s a personal favorite. 
In the mean time, posted below is the lyrics to Gene Pitney’s hit song, followed by a YouTube music that DOES give away the twist ending so don’t click it if you haven’t seen The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance….

When Liberty Valance rode to town,
the women folk would hide, they’d hide.
When Liberty Valance walked around,
the men would step aside.

Because the point of a gun
was the only law that Liberty understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast,
he was mighty good.

From out of the east a stranger came,
a law book in his hand, a man. 
The kind of man the west would need
to tame a troubled land.

‘Cause the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast,
he was mighty good.

Many a man would face his gun
and many a man would fall.
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance,
he was the bravest of them all.

Now the love of a woman can make a man stay on when he should go, stay on.
just trying to build a peaceful life where love is free to go.

But the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood.
When the final showdown came at last,
a law book was no good.

But the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast, he was mighty good.

Alone and afraid she prayed that he’d return that fateful night, that night.
when nothing she said could keep her man from going out to fight.
From the moment a girl gets to be full grown 
the very first things she learns
when two men go out to face each other
only one returns

Everyone heard two shots ring out,
one shot made Liberty fall.
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance
he was the bravest of them all.

What the hell, just for the heck of it, here’s Bob Spickard and friends performing Pipeline, aka Liberty’s Whip. Great little ditty, ain’t it?

– Dwayne Epstein

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LEE MARVIN’S BEST MOVIES? NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Lee Marvin’s best? That’s a pretty subjective concept. After all, one man’s meat is another man’s poison but still and all, some things along such lines are pretty obvious.  “The 5 Best Lee Marvin Movies” is the title of a recent blog entry I came across by chance on the web and the concept is the subject of this blog.
I’m not really big on chiding other writers but the author’s choices leave much to be desired. The title alone is somewhat irksome: “The 5 Best Lee Marvin Movies.” Why only five? Wouldn’t ten be more appropriate for such a lengthy career? And his choices! If you can’t see the link I included above, here’s what he chose:
5. The Wild One
4. The Big Heat
3. Cat Ballou
2. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
1. The Dirty Dozen
Can you see the problem I had with the choices that were made? Three of the five are not even Lee Marvin movies in the strictest sense. Marvin had supporting roles in The Wild One, Big Heat and Liberty Valance. Granted, they were great scene-stealing roles, but supporting roles, nonetheless. They are all better known as Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford & John Wayne movies and Lee Marvin would be the first one to say it. All the films (and more) are of course recounted and detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank, by the way. It also includes Marvin’s input into these roles as well as what he thought of each of them.
While I applaud the effort made in the end to encourage others to seek out Marvin’s films, doing so by this list would make someone wonder what’s the fuss about Lee Marvin since he apparently was merely a villain in the 1950s & 1960s. The author barely recognized the fact that Marvin was a major star in the 1960s & 1970s.
I’m not and never have been a fan of “Best Lists,” which is why there isn’t any on this blog site. However, if one were to attempt a list of Lee Marvin’s best, here’s a good start, at least in terms of what might make someone a fan. Consider the following a sort of starter kit. If after viewing these films, you’re still not a fan, then you never will be.
– Dwayne Epstein

The Professionals, 1966.

Point Blank, 1967

Monte Walsh, 1970

Emperor of the North, 1973

The Big Red One, 1980

 

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