Since the TCM Classic Film Fest is full swing, I thought I’d post a blog about The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which was recently screened at the festival. Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank are already familiar with some of the intrigiuing details and anecdotes that went into the making the John Ford classic.
I was extremely fortunate to interview Lee Marvin’s career long agent Meyer Mishkin, who got his first big boost in the business thanks to the irascible Ford. Mishkin answered many questions for me, and, as Point Blank readers discovered, helped me discover what Ford thought of Marvin, what Marvin thought of Ford. Readers also found out why Marvin thought he’d be fired just before he started work on the film, what Marvin’s ten-year-old son said when he was introduced to John Wayne, and infinitely more.
There’s also nothing like getting information from one who was there and Woody Strode fit the bill. His hilarious tale of the first time he ever met Marvin — on the set of Valance — is a personal favorite, and one that proved to be the beginning of the end for Marvin’s first marriage. Marvin and Strode bonded during the filming of Liberty Valance and the friendship deepened through the years. They didn’t always see each other often through the years but, like most great friendships, time had no meaning. Below, in Woody Strode’s own words, is a wonderful unpublished tale that illustrates the point:
“Now, I stayed in Europe for years. I came home and I hadn’t seen Lee for about four years. I got a job in New Mexico called The Gatling Gun. By now, I got a Mercedes. The good life had touched me. I called Lee. I said, ‘Lee, I’m working in New Mexico and I’m coming to see you when I finished.’ We finished the picture. I didn’t let him know I was driving a Mercedes. Well baby, it took a couple of days for us get there. I parked out in front of the house, I think in Tucson. I honked the horn. He come out saying, ‘Who the hell is honking that horn?’ He come outside and I said, ‘Hello, you son-of-a-bitch.’ He said ‘Woody, you finally…’ I said, ‘You see what I’m driving?I got to the fucking money, in a foreign country!’ That’s the type of relationship we had…. So, we had our little weekend. Pamela [Lee’s second wife] didn’t know me like that but she heard about me. When I got there, a writer from Australia was doing an article on Lee Marvin. He saw our relationship and said, ‘You guys are like brothers.’ I been in Europe almost four years and he ain’t seen me in years. I’m in a Mercedes, got a little bank account. It made him feel good.”