100 BEST NOIRS…..AHEM!

100 best noirs seems like an ambitious undertaking, especially since it has nothing to do with Eddie Muller, the self proclaimed ‘Czar of Noir.” However, a Facebook friend (who shall remain nameless) recently sent me a link to an online magazine article in which the attempt to catalogue the 100 best noir films is done by several writers. Here’s that list and some further thoughts on my own.
   It’s a thoughtful, fairly well-written piece but as my friend pointed out, it seems to lean heavily on more recent films and less so on more classic noir. It seem to me, that if you’re going to proclaim the 100 best noirs then some of the choices that made the list are either incorrect or just plain bogus. Sorry but Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), the film that made me a huge James Cagney fan is NOT noir. If you put that on the list then all the great 1930s Warner gangster pix should also be included.
And why Gaslight (1944), Key Largo (1948) or Miller’s Crossing (1990)? Sorry, all great films but hardly noir. 
   More importantly are the films absent from the list. These are my choices both classic and modern:
Act of Violence (1948), On Dangerous Ground (1951) & Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), all three starring the criminally underrated Robert Ryan!
Brute Force (1947)
Panic in the Streets (1950)
The Hustler (1961)

Modern noir? How about these:
Serpico (1973)
Mean Streets (1973)
Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978)
Cutter & Bone, aka Cutter’s Way (1981)

And since this blog is dedicated to Lee Marvin and as the author of Lee Marvin Point Blank, allow me to ask, where’s this cult favorite remake? 

Theatrical poster for the made-for-TV movie (the first!) THE KILLERS, released in theaters worldwide.

Not to brag but I did get to interview many of the costars, including Clu Gulager, Angie Dickinson, Norman Fell and Bob Phillips, all of whom told me great tales concerning this classic noir! 
Now I ask you, did they miss the boat in the article, or what?! Any of your favorites missing as well? Feel free to comment.

– Dwayne Epstein 

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NOVEMBER 2021 ON TCM

November 2021 on TCM is going to be terrific for us Lee Marvin fans. They’ll be showing three of his films and a plethora of other films related to his career. The choices may seem to be a bit of a stretch, but one need merely read Lee Marvin Point Blank to see it’s no stretch at all. The titles below bear this out:

The Rack (1956) Thursday, November 11, 3 a.m.

As Capt. John R. Miller, Lee Marvin perpetrates an ambush on fellow P.O.W. Paul Newman that sets the tone of the film.


Starring Paul Newman in one of his first films, Marvin costars in a small yet important role as a fellow Korean War-era P.O.W. who testifies during Newman’s court-martial for collaborating with the enemy. A similar theme akin to Marvin’s Sergeant Ryker (1968), the film is rather dated but does have its moments, due mainly to the all-star cast. Interesting trivia discovered by yours truly after my book came out but blogged about here.

The Dirty Dozen
(1967) Thursday, November 11, 12:30 p.m.

Composite of scenes from the TCM perennial, THE DIRY DOZEN.


A TCM favorite that is, like The Rack, airing appropriately enough on Veteran’s Day this November 2021. There’s not much more that I can possibly say about this timeless classic that made me a Lee Marvin fan and also hoisted him into the rare atmosphere of superstardom but as my next project suggests, I’m discovering fascinating, unheard of details all the time, so stay tuned!


The Professionals
(1966) Saturday, November 20, 9 a.m. 

The Professionals, 1966.


Not only one of Lee Marvin’s best films, but a solid classic in its own right, The Professionals deserves a much better reputation than its legacy suggests, which means no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you’ll want to see it again…and again, and again. Yeah, it’s that good. See for yourself if you don’t believe me and discover also some behind-the-scene factoids along the way.  

Below are some other films airing November 2021 that have an interesting connection to Lee Marvin’s career:



Out of the Past
(1947) Friday, November 12, 10:30 a.m.

Foreign issue poster for OUT OF THE PAST highlighting the male leads.


Considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest film noir of all time, Marvin would have fit in quite comfortably in this film, although it was made before he launched his acting career. Robert Mitchum stars as a man looking to forget his dubious past but his former gangster boss played by Kirk Douglas ferrets him to find his femme fatale girlfriend played by Jane Greer. Naturally sparks fly and soon all hell breaks lose. Marvin would be right in either role but I’d like to think he’d add and extra something in the Kirk Douglas role. You be the judge.

The French Connection (1971) Saturday, November 13, 5 p.m.

(L-R) Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider and Fernando Rey pictured in the DVD graphic for THE FRENCH CONNECTION.


Quite possibly the best 1970s cop film ever that once again, just gets better with the passage of time. Airing for the film’s 50th anniversary, Gene Hackman earned a well-deserved Best Actor Oscar as Popeye Doyle, a tough cop doggedly determined to bust the biggest heroin ring in NYC history. Based on the real life exploits of Eddie Egan (who, along with partner Sonny Grosso, had supporting roles in the films), it also won the Oscar for Best Picture. All well and good and all properly documented. So, what is it doing in this compendium of Lee Marvin films and themes? I recently discovered that Marvin was considered (among many others) for the lead role. Seriously. Would have been interesting but in all honesty, I’m actually glad he didn’t do it. No one could have been better than Hackman.

The Lineup (1958) Saturday, November 13, 9 p.m.

Original poster for THE LINEUP.


Based on the CBS radio and TV series of the same name, this obscure little thriller pairs Eli Wallach and Robert Keith as a couple of professional criminals looking to retrieve a cache of smuggled heroin. So, once again, why is it mentioned here? The film was directed by the underrated Don Siegel who often provided brilliance on a small budget, such as the similar-themed The Killers (1964) a few years later. Watch the relationship between psychotic Wallach and his mentor Keith and see if it reminds you of Marvin and Clu Gulager. If you do watch it, make sure to check out that slam bang ending!

The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) Monday, November 15, 1 pm and Saturday, November, 27, 2:45 pm. 

Mostly in shadow, Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt brutally battle big Barton MacLane for the money he owes them.



A classic in its own right, it also stands as one of Lee Marvin’s personal favorite films. And with good reason, as I showed in an earlier blog. Its reputation is well deserved but I’ll add my own two cents. I’ve never really been that big of a Humphrey Bogart fan, depending largely on the film itself. I thought the man came off rather stiff too often. However, when he played characters dangling on the edge of sanity as in The Caine Mutiny (1954) or In A Lonely Place (1950), then he was something to see. No where is that more true than his performance here as Fred C. Dobbs. It’s brilliant.

The Split (1968) Wednesday, November 24, 2:30 p.m. 

Someone forgot to tell Warren Oates to smile as this poster for THE SPLIT suggests.


Hot off the success of The Dirty Dozen, big Jim Brown reteams with fellow Dozen alum Ernest Borgnine and Donald Sutherland in this variation of Point Blank with a fascinating cast and premise. Brown is recently released from prison and is hired by mob boss Julie Harris (!) to rob a football stadium with cohorts Borgnine and Sutherland along with Warren Oates and Jack Klugman. As a typical 60s caper film it fits its time period but the sparks really fly AFTER the caper as the title suggests. Diahann Carroll is Brown’s love interest, Gene Hackman is a crooked cop who wants a piece of the split and James Whitmore is a psychotic sex criminal as crazed as any movie villain can be. Some cast, huh? Point Blank connection aside, check it out for yourself for that powerhouse cast alone!

So, there you have some cinematic goodies and thoughts about them that are airing November 2021 on TCM. Enjoy!

– Dwayne Epstein

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SUMMER UNDER THE STARS, 2021

Summer Under the Stars is a month long event broadcast by TCM in which they show the films of one particular actor each day in the month of August. They’ve been doing it for years and this year they finally get around to honoring Lee Marvin, I believe for the first time. 

TCM’s line up of Lee Marvin films for August 28th. All times are Eastern Standard Time.



Normally, I like to showcase the films of Marvin to be shown on TCM at the end of the month for the upcoming month but this is worthy of some early acknowledgement. It’s not just for the obvious inclusion of Marvin’s films, but the fact that they are being shown pretty much in chronological order. It allows the viewer to see the progression of his career over time and recognize that even from the inception, his performances were always scene-stealing moments of the highest caliber. As costar Clu Gulager told this author back in 1997: “It turned out, Lee was, in my view, one of the foremost actors of his time. You never know about actors in their formative stages. Lee formed fairly early and became a great actor fairly early. Whereas, an actor like Paul Newman for example, who is today a great actor, did not form as early. I’m just showing you by way of contrast, we all have our time. Like Lloyd Bridges for example became a great actor in his older age. I think Marty Landau also. You just never know. But Marvin he just always was great.” 
The films chosen by TCM for their Summer Under the Stars tribute to Lee Marvin is a decent cross section of his work, despite the presence of a few often aired films, such The Dirty Dozen, Point Blank and Cat Ballou. Luckily, they are also including the likes of rarely shown Pocket Money and Gorky Park
It’s also worth noting the date chose to honor Marvin, as it’s a one day before the date of his death of August 29th, 1987. That will probably will get mentioned by one of the on air hosts. There’s some other worthy subjects throughout the month along the way, such as Gloria Grahame on the 17th and the airing of The Big Heat. As for me, I’m also looking forward to the likes of Robert Mitchum (August 6th), George Segal (August 10th), Jane Fonda (August 13th), Robert Redford (August 18th), Tyrone Power (August 22nd) and James Cagney (August 30th), among several others. The calendar can be found here.
Of course, anyone interested in finding out more about the making of any or all of the films being shown on Lee Marvin day for Summer Under the Stars, can find them all exclusively covered in Lee Marvin Point Blank.  

– Dwayne Epstein

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