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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MAY 2022 ON TCM

May 2022 on TCM means the airing of a couple of Lee Marvin perennials and some special tributes I am very much looking forward to seeing.  As to the perennials, for this May 2022, it seems TCM loves to show these two classics, especially around Memorial Day…

(L-R) Russell Collins, Walter Brennan, Spencer Tracy (seated), Dean Jagger, Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan in Bad Day at Black Rock.

Marvin confronts Robert Ryan in the Oscar-winning The Dirty Dozen.

As to the rest of the month’s line-up, there are some interesting Lee Marvin connections, even though he doesn’t appear in the films listed. That aside, I chose to highlight the ones worth watching. Don’t forget to check your local listings for your time zone’s start time…. 


Dark of the Sun (1968) Wednesday, May 5th & Tuesday May 24: Airing in tribute to Yvette Mimeux, this little seen acton film has Rod Taylor delivering one of the most amazing fight scenes I’ve ever witnessed, as well as a pretty decent performance from Lee Marvin’s Dirty Dozen costar, Jim Brown. 
The Verdict (1982) & Hombre (1966) Thursday, May 5th: Two very different performances from two different time periods by two very great directors but both feature Lee Marvin costar Paul Newman. I’ve written about Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict previously but Martin Ritt’s Hombre deserves a second look. An ensemble cast features superb performances by all but especially Richard Boone. Could very well have been played by Lee Marvin. Also costars The Iceman Cometh’s (1973) Fredric March.
The Catered Affair (1956) Sunday, May 8th: Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin’s frequent costar, costars this time around with the legendary Bette Davis in this poignant inner-city drama directed by Richard Brooks, based on the TV play written by Paddy Chayefsky. Davis has never been better and Borgnine revisits Chayefesky’s Marty (1955) persona in a very different way. Also look for a young Debbie Reynolds, Rod Taylor and curmedgeonly Barry Fitzgerald.
John Ford, The Man Who Invented America (2018) Sunday, May 8th: I don’t know anything about this documentary but you can bet the house on the fact that I will be watching. In my humble opinion, this director of such Lee Marvin classics as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Donovan’s Reef is the greatest of all American directors.
Crossfire (1947) & Edge of the City (1957) Saturday, May 14th: Robert Ryan’s sole Oscar-nomination and John Cassavetes self-proclaimed best early work highlight the Dirty Dozen’s costars claim to fame. Very different films but definitely worth watching for their performances alone. 
The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh (2014) Wednesday, May 18th: As with the John Ford documentary, I never heard of this either but since Walsh directed many of my favorite films (including an early western with Lee Marvin) I’ll be checking it out. 
Seven Days in May (1964), Papillon (1973), The Wind & The Lion (1975) Wednesday, May 25th: These three well made films are being shown as part of a tribute to my all-time favorite film composer, Jerry Goldsmith. Watch these films for the music alone and you’ll see why he’s my favorite.
Memorial Day Weekend Marathon featuring: 
Bad Day at Black Rock
(195?) Saturday, May 28th & The Dirty Dozen (1967) Monday, May 30th: All weekend long Turner is showing some great films which naturally means the airing of these two perennials!

So there you have it, May 2022 on TCM for Lee Marvin fans and cinephiles alike. If you want to know more any of these films or the people involved, there’s always Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, all the best!
– Dwayne Epstein

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WWII MOVIES: THE BEST?

WWII movies, one of the most popular sustained genres of film, is the subject of a recent online article I happen to come across. Naturally, everybody’s opinion is different, but if the subject is “20 of the Best,” there’s bound to be conflict. Actually, I agree with a lot of the choices in the article, but of course, there are exceptions. 
   As the author of Lee Marvin Point Blank, I was heartened to see two of the actors best WWII films on the list. However, I of course think they should be ranked a little higher.
   The fact that the British author of the piece included some British films is to be expected, as well some underrated WWII movies worthy of rediscovery. But if he’s going to do that, he should have included the criminally underrated Attack!

The tag lines aside, the powerful artwork spoke volumes for the film WWII ATTACK!, one of the most criminally underrated WWII movies ever made.



(1956), which, like The Dirty Dozen (1967), was harrowingly directed by Robert Aldrich. By the way, the mention of the film Overlord (1975) also has a Dirty Dozen connection in that it was directed by Stuart Cooper who played Roscoe Lever. 
   Back to the list, itself. One problem I see in the choices is if you going to make the point about the prolific writing of Alistair MacLean why choose Where Eagles Dare over the much better Guns of Navarone (1961)? Weird!  
   Also, since WWII had so many varied aspects to it, why not break up the list by sub-genres? After all, if you put the legendary Casablanca on the list in terms of the effect the war had on civilians, there should be a place for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), The Best Years of Our Lives (1948), The Tin Drum (1979), Hope & Glory (1987), The Men (1950, Since You Went Away, (1944), So Proudly We Hail (1943) and several others. In doing so, it would include another Lee Marvin classic: Bad Day at Black Rock (1955). Just saying.

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 (1955).


   As far as sub-genres are concerned, there should be one for biopics and if so, it is absolutely appalling not to include the likes of Patton (1970). George C. Scott’s performance (turned down by Lee Marvin) is one of the greatest in movie history! 
  It can also be determined by branches of the service, which would include the likes of the navy in Mister Roberts (1955), They Were Expendable (1945), or the Marines via The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)…well, you get the idea. 
   Basically stated, if you’re going to write a list of “The Best…” anything, be prepared to be corrected, debated and possibly duck some brickbats as the cinema of WWII is a pretty big subject to ever narrow down to just 20. In the mean time, watch a Lee Marvin movie and then find out how they were made in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

– Dwayne Epstein



 

 

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