GENE HACKMAN TURNS 90-YEARS OLD!

Gene Hackman, a perennial favorite of mine since I first saw The French Connection (1971) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972) in theaters, has reached his landmark 90th birthday. That’s right, as of January 30th, the legendary ‘least likely to succeed’ Pasadena Playhouse alum, who has won two Oscars and countless other accolades, enters his 9th decade but is still appreciated the world over. According to this People.com article the love for Hackman among film fans runs deep.
Having costarred with Lee Marvin in Prime Cut (1972), I never did get to interview him for Lee Marvin Point Blank which of course, is a damn shame.

Original ads for PRIME CUT featuring Marvin, Hackman, Sissy Spacek and Angel Tompkins.

It’s not for lack of trying, however. Before the days of the internet is when I did the bulk of my research and in my attempts to contact him via his agent I was was told Mr. Gene Hackman was not interested. Once I interviewed others involved in Prime Cut, such as Greg Walcott and Angel Tompkins, I could understand Gene Hackman’s reticence. The stories I got, especially from Walcott, explains why Hackman may have refused my invitation.

Lee Marvin as Nick Devlin and Gene Hackman as Mary Ann go head-to-head in director Michael Ritchie’s PRIME CUT.

Hackman was obviously not happy with the film, having just made The French Connection and on the brink of major stardom. Also, it seems very unlikely that he and Marvin, got along during the film, despite both men being ex-Marines. Why you may ask? Well, if you read my book you’d figure that out pretty quickly.

All that aside, Gene Hackman is and always will be one of my favorite actors. So for that I say HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY, MR. HACKMAN AND HERE’S WISHING YOU AT LEAST ANOTHER 90 MORE!
– Dwayne Epstein

TIME magazine’s review of PRIME CUT. I especially love the comment about Sissy Spacek. Critics!

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GREGORY WALCOTT INTERVIEW FOR HIS 87TH BIRTHDAY!

Gregory Walcott, veteran character and member of the Clint Eastwood stock company, recently celebrated his 87th birthday on January 13th. So, for this auspicious occassion, I have taken the liberty of posting my interview with him from Filmfax Magazine. He agreed to the interview as part of my research for Lee Marvin: Point Blank, having worked with the actor in Prime Cut (1972). His colorful anecdotes about working with Marvin all went into the book but I found his career so fascinating, I asked if he would be willing to expand on it for a full magazine article. He readily agreed and, from 1998, I give you the results. Happy birthday Greg, I wish you at least 87 more. Enjoy one and all!

Cover of Filmfax featuring my Gregory Walcott inteview.

Cover of Filmfax featuring my Gregory Walcott inteview.

 

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As a postscript to the above article, I can proudly say that Walcott was so enamored with what I wrote, he contacted the magazine and penned the following letter of praise. It was published in the next issue, and what can I say? Talk about a mensch! What a guy!!
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PRIME CUT COSTAR GREGORY WALCOTT ON LEE MARVIN

'cut':RitchieThe 1972 film Prime Cut remains one of the strangest of Lee Marvin’s career and one that has developed quite a cult following over the years. Marvin and director Michael Ritchie (pictured above holding camera) did not get along at all, and the Calgary, Canada location was loaded with strange and interesting anecdotes (See Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 191-193). Veteran character actor Gregory Walcott costarred with Marvin as a deranged henchman called “Weenie,” shown above tangling with Marvin. Walcott had some interesting thoughts about his costar not included in the text.

Gregory Walcott: “He was a strange person. I wouldn’t know from one day to the next how he was going to be. Kind of like a Jaguar I used to own. Drives great when it drove but I never knew if it was going to start the next moment. He was a strange dichotomy. I remember I had lunch with my agent one day in a restaurant on Sunset Blvd. Lee came in with his agent, Meyer Mishkin. He saw me there, came over, and sat down. He talked for a while, shaking hands. Just delightful, you know? He was great, with his white teeth shining. Then, about a year later, I went down to Tucson on a film. By then, he had moved Tucson with his wife, Pam. He came into a restaurant on that day, saw me and just said, “Oh, yeah,” and just walked right passed me. He was a strange mixture of man.”

 

In this picture below from Walcott’s collection, during the film’s production in Canada (the sunflower field in the films’ finale were actually flown in from Kansas) the sequences shot in a local flophouse included actual transients as extras. When asked to pose with some of them, Lee Marvin had no problem with the request
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