An Op-Ed writer on an online small town newspaper I recently came across had a novel idea. She thought it might work to regroup the original concept of Lee Marvin’s The Dirty Dozen, but instead of taking on the Nazi High Command, they go after the rogue nations in Central America. The mission? Straighten out the corrupt governments so immigrants would be less willing to seek asylum here.
I’m guessing he’s talking to Trini Lopez partially hidden (maybe on purpose) on the far right.
The Op-Ed author, Vera Hogan, writes for Fenton Michigan’s Tri-County Times and openly admits to not being a fan of the genre of war films. The full piece can be read here and if you do read it, allow me an obvious rebuttal.
Naturally, she avoids the controversy of President Trump’s cockamamie wall fantasy but does comes close by stating the ‘Dozen’ could help rebuild the country’s schools, corruption, etc. The Op-Ed piece fall short of explaining how you train a bunch of murderous convicts to do that but her heart is in the right place. That’s certainly more than can be said by the occupant of the White House, but I digress.
The whole idea of the Op-Ed, however, circumvents the core problem within the film itself. As Marvin’s Col. Reisman tells Ernest Borgnine’s General Worden: “These men by definition are incapable of training and following orders.” Can you imagine turning them loose in corrupt Central America? They wouldn’t straighten the countries out, they’d take over!
Personally, I avoided political commentary within the pages of my book Lee Marvin Point Blank (although some readers may disagree) but as far as I’m concerned, there’s an even more appropriate quote by Marvin in the opening moments of The Dirty Dozen that can certainly be applied to the current Commander-in-Chief: “I don’t think it’s a good idea to advertise the fact that someone in charge is a raving lunatic!”
Clint Walker’s passing occurred a year ago and as such, karma had a say in such things. I was browsing at a used bookstore a day or two ago and came across a copy of SCREEN WORLD 1959, the annual journal of films on a given year. I was missing that particular one so I picked it up, opened it to peruse and came across this page first…..
First page I came to in SCREEN WORLD 1959.
Pretty amazing timing considering I came across it almost a year to the day of Clint Walker’s passing. Consequently, he’s been on my mind a lot, lately. At the time of Clint Walker’s passing last year, I did blog about it. Since then, some interesting things have transpired.
To start with, I was most fortunate to meet Walker the first time at the the Beverly Garland Hotel (GREAT lady, by the way) at one of her Hollywood Collector Shows back in the 1990s. He agreed to be interviewed for what eventually would become Lee Marvin Point Blank and his stories on making The Dirty Dozen (1967) and the follow-up of sorts, Small Soldiers (1998), were priceless! His anecdotes on Trini Lopez on both projects are unintentionally hilarious.
Clint Walker tangles with Lee Marvin in THE DIRTY DOZEN.
A few years back I had the idea of interviewing him again, but this time it would be about his entire career for Filmfax Magazine. I discovered the best way to contact him was to connect with Deb Elsie, who handled his online presence. Once we spoke and she then contacted him, I took no small amount of pride, in this exchange from her: “He told me to give you his phone number and in all the years I’ve known him, he’s never told me to give someone his phone number. …..Dwayne, I’m super excited about this!!! Especially since it wasn’t that long ago Clint said he wasn’t interested in doing any more interviews. I know he trusts you and so anything you need, I’m here to help.”
The interview went well, I sent it to Filmfax, and liked the response it garnered upon publication. When it came out, I received much praise from his fans via social media and something I never expected. Author and historian Jeff Thompson read it and contacted me about something Clint Walker had said concerning a TV-move he made for Dan Curtis. Curtis, the creator of the cult TV show Dark Shadows (among MANY other things), was chronicled in several books by Thompson who had not known Walker’s input on the project entitled, Scream of the Wolf, that is until he read my interview. He contacted me….
Original TV Guide ad for Dan Curtis’ SCREAM OF THE WOLF (1974).
“I am finishing up the revised second edition of my first book THE TELEVISION HORRORS OF DAN CURTIS for McFarland. I would like to quote your interview in my book thusly:
Jeff Thompson’s original work on Dan Curtis to be updated and released later this year with quotes from your truly’s interview with Clint Walker.
In a 2017 Filmfax interview, Clint Walker (1927-2018) revealed that he almost did not get the part. He explained, They wanted Jack Palance for it, but he wanted more money, and they didn’t want to pay it. So I said to my agent, “Let me talk to them.” I wanted to be the heavy. I said, “If you get Jack Palance, he’s a very fine actor and all, but people are going to know immediately that he’s the bad guy. With me, they’re not going to think of me in those terms until the last minute.” [Scream of the Wolf] was interesting.”
It just goes to prove you never know how one’s work may be perceived, or for that matter, live on beyond inception. I look forward to seeing Jeff’s book, and when it comes to work living on beyond inception, few have done so as well as the canon of work of Clint Walker. He was often a good guy on small and big screen alike but more importantly, he was a good guy in real life. Farewell Cheyenne.
Clint Walker as Cheynne Bodie, The way he would want to be remembered. R.I.P.
Long gone, the publishing company Citadel Press put out a series of books known 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 been 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’srelease, I invite you read for yourself the essay written on the film’s impact….