JULY 2021 ON TCM

July 2021 on TCM is upon us and with it comes some watchable Lee Marvin classics, as well as a few other goodies within the theme of neo-noir. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank will appreciate these films as they certainly fit the oeuvre of the man’s work. Even the film’s in which he doesn’t appear are ones he certainly could have and it’s interesting to consider him in the roles while watching. Check local listings for air time. First up:

Point Blank (1967): Friday, July 2nd. 

Point Blank, 1967


Lee Marvin as Walker based on the book in which his name is Parker written by Donald Westlake using the pen name Richard Stark directed by England’s John Boorman in quintessential American locales such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. Confused? Don’t be as TCM could not have picked a better film for their July 2021 launch of their theme of neo-noir classics, as this is the one that started it all. It’s what I like to call the first arthouse action film. See it again and you’ll see what I mean.



Warning Shot (1967): Friday July 2nd. 

Original ad art for WARNING SHOT (1967).



Hot from his success as Richard Kimble on “The Fugitive,” David Janssen stars in this film with a similar theme, only this time he’s a cop wrongly accused of murder. Janssen heads an all-star cast of cameos including Lee Marvin’s good friend and Point Blank costar, Keenan Wynn as well as Carroll O’Connor. Along for the ride are George Grizzard, Joan Collins, Lillian Gish, Steve Allen, Ed Begley, Sam Wanamaker, George Sanders, Eleanor Parker, Walter Pigeon and Stefanie Powers and a terrific score by Jerry Goldsmith. It’s a forgotten classic as far as I’m concerned and July 2021 is all the better for it.


The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973): Friday, July 9th.

Criterion cover for the DVD of THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE.



In the 1970s Robert Mitchum underwent a sort of renaissance in his career with three outstanding crime thrillers: The Yakuza (1975), Farewell, My Lovely (1975), and the best of them being The Friends of Eddie Coyle. This is yet another movie in dire need of rediscovery and thankfully, a few years back Criterion chose to give the film the blue ribbon treatment it deserves. Yes, it’s dark and depressing and yes rather unrelentingly so but I like to think of it as haunting as once seen you’ll never forget it. Seriously. Mitchum heads an all-star cast of rugged faced veteran character actors on the dirty streets of Boston as he himself gives the performance of his career. Once again, don’t take my word for it. See it for yourself and be amazed. As costar Peter Boyle told Rolling Stone Magazine at the time: “You know what the 2001 theme is? That’s the sound of Robert Mitchum waking up.”

The Wild One (1953) Saturday, July 10th.

Original ad for The WILD ONE in which 4th billed Lee Marvin is shown (barely) but not mentioned.



The seminal film that started the biker film craze of the late 1960s was actually based on an event in the 1940s and starred Marlon Brando as Johnny, titular leader of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC). He’s challenged at one point by a scene-stealing, hilariously over-the-top Lee Marvin as Chino. Great and exclusive stories abound about the making of this classic in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank, including a letter Lee wrote to his brother about what he thought of the character in hopes of winning the role. As for his opinion of Brando? Read and discover!

Night Moves (1975) Friday, July 23rd.

Alternate cover art for NIGHT MOVES.


Gene Hackman is at the peak of his long and amazing career as Harry Moseby, a former football star working as a private detective hired to find the daughter of a burned out movie star.  He’s also dealing with the break-up of his marriage and the oncoming strains middle-age. Along the way he encounters some unsavory characters, such as sexy Jennifer Warren, a young an creepy James Woods (isn’t he always creepy?) and more. The style and performances of this film is required viewing in my opinion as Hackman is rarely better than in the hands of the great Arthur Penn. Enjoy!

Cutter’s Way (1981) Friday, July 23rd. 

DVD cover for CUTTER’S WAY.



Hollywood was still making films such as this in the early 1980s but sadly, few people wanted to see them. It’s a terrific character study in the guise of a thrilling whodunit. Jeff Bridges is Richard Bone, a Santa Barbara boat salesman by day and a “gigolo” by night (male prostitute, let’s be honest) who may have witnessed a murder committed by the riches man around. Enter John Heard as Alex Cutter, a disabled and embittered Vietnam veteran who wants to blackmail the suspected killer in a performance that reaches beyond the cliche description. It’s a performance worthy of countless acting awards but didn’t receive any. Ivan Passer’s direction, Jeff Bridges’ appearance (according to my girlfriend he never looked sexier!) John Heard’s riveting performance, the Santa Barbara locations and a chilling climax make this one a definite contender as a lost classic. Kudos to TCM for rediscovering it!

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) Saturday, July 31st. 

Montage of scenes and characters from John Huston’s ASPHALT JUNGLE. Can you name them all?



It’s a bit of a shame that this classic noir was made in 1950 as that’s the same year Lee Marvin began working in film as a glorified extra. Had he been a little better known by that time he would have fit right in with the cast of this hardboiled heist thriller in any of several different roles. The lead role by Sterling Hayden as the hooligan known as Dix would have been a perfect fit for the young Marvin. The ensemble cast as it is remains one of the best of all time. It also includes my personal favorite quote of all noir films when Hayden tells worrisome Marc Lawrence: “Why don’t you quit crying and get me some bourbon!”  A film brimming with double-crosses, subplots and believable characters, it’s one for the ages. Oh, and look quick for Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Arthur Miller in the film’s opening line-up of suspected mugs. Honest!  


So there you have it. A plethora of terrific films for TCM’s calendar of July 2021. August brings even better fare for Lee Marvin fans. TCM is doing their regular installment of “Summer Under the Stars,” saluting one actor all day and on the 28th, they FNALLY get around to honoring Lee Marvin. July 2021 is pretty good. August will sure to be even better!

  • Dwayne Epstein 
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LISA RYAN, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT RYAN & A WONDERFUL SURPRISE

Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, has recently been back in touch with me. You may recall, that a while back she gave me permission to post our talk about her father. She also gave me one of my favorite stories about the making of The Dirty Dozen (1967) which of course went into Lee Marvin Point Blank that just has to be read to be appreciated!
Well, after discovering the documentary Rick Spalla did on Lee Marvin, which included an interview with her father, I just naturally had to let her know about it. We reconnected conversationally and she told me that due to the pandemic, she had been in the midst of decluttering her belongings when she made an interesting discovery. Among her treasures were a series of photos taken on the set of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh of the entire cast! She not only sent the scans of them to me, she gave me permission to post them here on my blog.
Lee Marvin Point Blank readers know that I was fortunate enough to interview director John Frankenheimer, costar Jeff Bridges and several others who told me great stories about the making of the rarely seen gem. However, these images say just as much. The photographer went simply by the name “Orlando” and obviously by the signatures these were all meant for Robert Ryan’s personal collection…..

Lee Marvin as Hickey: “To Robert Hit’em again Lee”

The sitting with Lee Marvin was apparently part of the film’s publicity as this now defunct magazine cover shows…

 

 

When all is said and done, Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, came thru with a wonderful surprise. So, without further ado, I give you classic images from THE ICEMAN COMETH…..

Fredric March as Harry Hope: “To Robert Ryan God Bless — always Fredric March 1973”

Jeff Bridges as Don Parritt: “Bob — Acting and especially knowing you, has been very special, Jeff Bridges”

Director John Frankenheimer: “Bob with admiration and grand thanks  John Frankenheimer”

Bradford Dillman as Willie Oban: “Bob — O’Neill has been kind to both of us and you have been especially kind to him! Cheers!
Brad Dillman”

Sorrell Booke as Hugo Kalmar: “Dear Bob – Don’t be a fool
Buy me a drink
Love
Sorrell Booke”

Hilda Brooks as Margie

Juno Dawson as Pearl: “Dear Bob,
Lovely working with you!
Love,
Juno”

Evans Evans (Mrs. Frankenheimer) as Cora: “Dear Bob,
With love,
Evans”

Martyn Green as ‘The Captain’: “From one old soak to another,
It’s been fun, Bob!
Martyn”

 

 

Moses Gunn as Joe Mott (unsigned).

John McLiam as Jimmy Tomorrow: “Dear Bob,
You are the kindest man among us,
John McLiam”

Stephen Perlman as Chuck Morello: “Bob – Looking forward to seeing The Master Builder [???] Stephen Pearlman”

Tom Pedi as Rocky Pioggi: “To Robert Ryan,
Tom Pedi”

 

Obviously, not all of the cast members are pictured here. Notably absent are Clifton James (“Pat McGloin”), George Voskovec (“The General”), and most obvious of all, Robert Ryan (“Larry Slade”). Fortunately, Lisa was able to find the following cast photos (seen below  after all the individual portraits) that does indeed include her father and the rest of the entire cast….

Cast & crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH with individual signatures.

An ever better view is the following close-up images….

Cast and crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH in close-up.

(L-R) Tom Pedi, Evans Evans, Stephen Perlman, unidentified, Moses Gunn, John McLiam (seated), Jeff Bridges, Fredric March, George Voskovec (seated), John Frankenheimer, Clifton James (seated), Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Juno Dawson & Hildy Brooks (seated), Martyn Green & Bradford DIllman (seated).

Finally, since this was graciously donated by the daughter of Robert Ryan, I’ve taken the liberty to include this poignant tribute to her father from the film’s playbill written by L.A. Times film critic, Charles Champlin…

Charles Champlin’s tribute to Robert Ryan.

And so there you have it: Some rare and fitting tributes to an underrated classic and a legendary postwar actor desperately worthy of rediscovery. Lisa Ryan, I am forever in your debt. Stay safe, everyone!
– Dwayne Epstein

 

 

 

 

 

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ALLEN GARFIELD, A GREAT CHARACTER ACTOR REMEMBERED

Allen Garfield, a great character actor in 1970s American films, passed away recently at the age of 80 from the dreaded Corona Virus. I was a fan of his work and thought he was terribly under appreciated. In fact, a recent obit read as if he’ll be remembered as barely a blip in film history. He may not be as revered as say a Walter Brennan or Ed Asner, but he certainly left his mark of versatility on some great films.

Some personal favorites are his media savvy consultant who shows up idealistic Robert Redford in Michel Ritchie’s The Candidate by smilingly smashing up a bag of lollipops with a tiny hammer. He was also Oscar-worthy as Peter Falk’s not-too-bright brother-in-law in William Friedkin’s underrated The Brinks Job.

I had the privilege of a chance meeting with him outside the Virgin Record Store on Sunset in the early 1990s. He was walking down the street with a pretty young woman when I recognized him and introduced myself.

Allen Garfield as he looked around the time I met him in the 1990s.

He was warm and cordial and was in the mood to talk. When I told him what I was working on at the time, he told me what a great idea a biography on Lee Marvin would be as he had always been a fan. I should add that even though he was older than myself, he peppered his conversation with many hip phrases, like “Right on,” and “Far out,” and “I can dig it.” When I mentioned the Lee Marvin bio he told me he always wanted to work with the man and almost did…once. He heard that The Iceman Cometh was going to be made into a film and desperately wanted the role of Rocky, the night bartender. As I recall, he said he got a reading with director John Frankenheimer, thought he nailed it and waited anxiously for a call back. Alas, it was not to be as Frankenheimer went with long-time veteran character actor Tom Pedi, who had played the role many times on stage, TV, radio, you name it.

Tom Pedi (left) as night bartender Rocky in Eugene O’Neill’s The ICEMAN COMETH with Lee Marvin (right) as Hickey.

Rather ironic considering Frankenheimer purposely didn’t want Jason Robards to play Hickey as he thought Robards too familiar with the role and directing him would be like, ‘Directing him how to go the bathroom.” You could see the disappointment on Garfield’s face as he recounted the story. I felt for him but also knew it was the lot of an actor’s life. He did as well so instead of dwelling on it mournfully, we began talking about the films and performances he did make and loved doing. I also asked him why he made the risky move of changing his name to Goorwitz and he told me it was in honor of his mother who had recently passed away. He did of course go back to Garfield shortly thereafter. Before parting he gave me his card and said to call him any time as he loved talking about movies. I kept it in my wallet for years but never did call him. My loss, I’m afraid. I did toy with the idea of including his little anecdote in the chapter about Iceman in Lee Marvin Point Blank but my exclusive interviews with Frankenheimer, Jeff Bridges and the children of Robert Ryan abundantly filled it out.
I often wondered why I had stopped seeing him in projects as much as I used to until I read about his health issues. He suffered a series of strokes and spent the last 15 years in the Motion Picture Retirement Home. Damn shame as we should have seen him in a lot projects. Farewell Mr. Garfield and fear not. As long as there are classic movie fans, you will always be remembered.
– Dwayne Epstein

Allen Garfield, aka Allen Goorwitz. Rest in Peace.

 

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