IN HONOR OF Pi DAY: THE GREATEST Pi FIGHT EVER!

This being Pi Day I wracked my brain to find a connection to Lee Marvin but the closest I could come up with were the deep-dish apple pies served up in Liberty Valance. Close enough, right?…..I didn’t think so. Instead, I give you images from one of my all-time favorite films which contained probably the all-time greatest pie fight.
The Great Race was a film I didn’t see in theatres, at least not the first time. It aired on TV, in two parts and then years later 5 nghts a week on a local network. I watched it every time, and on the rare occssion it showed up at a revival theatre, I was there, front & center. It wasn’t a great film, but to me and my friends growing up, it was a whole lot of over-the-top, old-fashioned fun with Tony Curtis’s swashbuckling, Peter Falk’s buffoonry, Natalie Wood’s lusciousness and above all, Jack Lemmon’s comedic genius in dual roles. Still a favorite all these years later!
Below, are some wonderful and rare images from the book The Platinum Years by photographer Bob Willoughby. Of all the great coffee table books about movies, I reccomend it above all others. It came out in the 1970s and Willougby’s images from his life as an on set photographer are downright stunning! The images below are just a small example….

Jack Lemmon as Prince Hapnick (giddily shown far left) with Natalie Wood as Maggie Dubois and Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie (both center) assess the damage as the pi fight winds down.

Jack Lemmon as Prince Hapnick (giddily shown far left) with Natalie Wood as Maggie Dubois and Tony Curtis as the Great Leslie (both center) assess the damage as the pi fight winds down.

The havoc of the pie fight near the end of the film is shown above but better than that, this image of director Blake Edwards working on set…..

This rare pic answers that oft-asked question, WHO THREW THAT PIE? Director Blake Edwards is caught in mid-form slamming his star Natalie Wood right in the kisser. At far left,  co-star Jack Lemmon, already nailed, steps out of the scene to admire his director's form.

This rare pic answers that oft-asked question, WHO THREW THAT PIE? Director Blake Edwards is caught in mid-form slamming his star Natalie Wood right in the kisser. At far left, co-star Jack Lemmon, already nailed, steps out of the scene to admire his director’s form.

 

Soupy Sales, The Three Stooges or anybody else you can think of must have cringed with envy at the enormity and huge budget afforded the filmmakers in this pie fight to end all pie fights. Of course, Natalie Wood may have had a different opinion…..

Shown at the end of the scene, Natalie Wood smiles and shows off Blake Edwards' handy work.

Shown at the end of the scene, Natalie Wood smiles and shows off Blake Edwards’ handy work.

Even Jack Lemmon was not immune but then again, playing the villianous Professor Fate, why should he be?

A pie caught in mid-flight lands on its intended target, actor Jack Lemmon, just as he was about to propel two of his own projectiles.

A pie caught in mid-flight lands on its intended target, actor Jack Lemmon, just as he was about to propel two of his own projectiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These terrific images are but a small sample of what fun can be had on this once-in-a-lifetime National Pi Day. It must be said that in order to stay within the spirit of this blog, one must simply ask the question, who would you least want to get a pie in the kisser from and how would he throw it? The answer is of course, Lee Marvin: Point Blank.

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LEE MARVIN AT THE 1960 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

The 1960 Democratic Convention…..with Lee Marvin?
In researching Lee Marvin: Point Blank, I encountered many surprises, not the least of which was the actor’s personal politics. The popular theory was that in being such a macho tough guy on screen, he must have been a conservative Republican, like his frequent co-star John Wayne. Not so, in Marvin’s case, according to friends and family.

Fans may think of him as a classic badass who thought like Wayne, but the truth is he was, by all accounts, a lifelong liberal Democrat who despised Republican stalwarts, such as costar Ronald Reagan (See Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 109-110).

July 15, 1960: Sen. John F. Kennedy during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. About 50,000 attended the final session held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Earlier sessions were held in the Sports Arena. This photo was published in the July 16, 1960 LA Times.

July 15, 1960: Sen. John F. Kennedy during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. About 50,000 attended the final session held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Earlier sessions were held in the Sports Arena. This photo was published in the July 16, 1960 LA Times.

Marvin rarely made his politics publicly known but he felt so strongly for candidate John F. Kennedy, he agreed to appear on stage at the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in support along with several other like-minded celebrities of the day (Ralph Bellamy, Lloyd Bridges, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Rosemary DeCamp, Anthony Franciosa, George Jessel, Phyllis Kirk, Hope Lange, Peter Lawford, Janet Leigh, Shirley MacLaine, Mercedes MacCambridge, Sheree North, Arthur O’Connell, Alma Pedroza, Vincent Price, Edward G. Robinson, Frank Sinatra, Jan Sterling, Inger Stevens, Shelley Winters).

Kennedy’s assassination during the filming of The Killers devastated the cast & crew and made for a poignant and ironic event in Marvin’s relationship with his son (p.135). He would never again publicly endorse a political candidate.

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