REVISIONIST WESTERNS ON TCM

Revisionist Westerns is a worthy theme this June 2022  and with it comes a month long slate of films from the good folks at Turner Classic Movies. Sadly, there are no Lee Marvin films this month but there are still some interesting subjects also worth checking out. This month includes a 100th birthday salute to Star of the Month Judy Garland, a tribute to cinematographer Gordon Willis, a theme of costumes in the movies and best of all, the aforementioned Revisionist Westerns.
   The films being aired as Revisionist Westerns are good choices but I’d like to lodge a personal complaint. In the interest of finding films worthy of rediscovery, why not include Lee Marvin’s underrated but poignantly elegiac Monte Walsh (1970) to the line-up? 

Monte Walsh, 1970

I realize of course you cannot show all the modern day westerns and as I said, they are showing some good ones, but c’mon! Monte Walsh is just begging to be rediscovered! Several critics bemoaned the timing of its release at the time stating that if had been,  released later in the year it would have scored several Oscar nominations, including Best Actor for Lee Marvin. Yeah, he’s that good in it! I wrote about it extensively in Lee Marvin Point Blank as I was fortunate enough to gain insight on its production from exclusive interviews with costars Mitch Ryan and Jack Palance, among others. Ahh well, Maybe next month.
   In the mean time, there are some worthy films to catch within the revisionist theme June 2022. To start with, on Thursday June 9th beginning at 6:45 pm PST are several Sam Peckinpah classics: Ride The High Country (1962), The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970), The Wild Bunch (1969), and Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973). 
   Also in the month are a couple of other westerns with Lee Marvin connections. Bad Company (1972) costars a young Jeff Bridges pre-Iceman Cometh (1973) as a draft dodger turned outlaw during The Civill War in a very worthy film airing June 2nd at 9:15 pm PST.
    Alan Ladd stars in Drum Beat (1954) Monday June 20th but the real draw is Charles Bronson in a scene-stealing performance as a rebellious native American named Captain Jack of the Modocs.
   Last but not least is director Jim Jarmusch’s off beat western Dead Man (1996) starring Johnny Depp on Thursday, June 30th. As a devout Lee Marvin fan, Jarmusch went so far as to name two lawmen in the film Lee and Marvin.  
    And so there you have it, the worthy films on TCM for the month of June. Next time, the programmers should check with me as I can clue them in on some great films worthy of rediscovery…..Yeah, that’ll happen.
– Dwayne Epstein

 

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JAWS…..THE PLAY?

Jaws (1975), the film that started the blockbuster craze in the mid 1970s — followed  soon thereafter by Star Wars (1977) —  is now the basis of a stage play in the U.K.  Seriously! Not the film itself but the making of the film which stars Ian Shaw as his father Robert Shaw, according to this article.  
 Amazing, isn’t? Apparently, it’s doing quite well and as readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are fully aware of, Lee Marvin (among others) was first asked to play the Shaw role of the crusty old sea salt, Quint. Director Steven Spielberg apparently also approached Sterling Hayden and got a similiar response from Hayden as he did Marvin. Just one example, by the way, of the appendix I put together of films Marvin turned down, and it is plentiful!

A young, postwar Lee Marvin eyes a fishing boat, probably off the coast of Texas. Could Quint had started this way?



   Marvin was an avid fisherman and turned down the role in hopes of making his own film about deep sea-fishing based on the book Tournament but could not raise the money for it. Publicly he joked that the reason he turned down Jaws was that after reading the script he didn’t want his fishing compadres to laugh at him based on Quint’s outcome. After the film came out and became a monster success, he stuck to his guns stating he felt the film was a small and simple tale of three men in a boat. He may have a point there.  

   The fact that the play is co-written and co-starring Robert Shaw’s son, Ian Shaw, and titled “The Shark is Broken” is rather ironic considering  how Marvin felt about Robert Shaw and that had Marvin accepted the role, the play would never had come about.
When it comes to Marvin’s son (the real one, not the Jim Jarmusch Cabal), Christopher Marvin confided in me that had his father left him a bigger inheritance, he was planning on starting a therapeutic music school for disabled children. Would have been nice. 

Lee Marvin and Michele Triola on the fishing trawler Ngerenghol registered n Koror off the coast of Palau. Looks like the boat in Jaws, doesn’t it?

  • Dwayne Epstein
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LANCE HENRIKSEN

Lance Henriksen, veteran character actor of many a film and TV project, has had a few run-ins with Lee Marvin, as I recently discovered in an interview he did promoting his film Fallen (2020), which was written, directed and costarring Viggo Mortensen. In the joint interview, Henriksen tells several anecdotes about his career, all fascinating, but one in particular was worthy of this blog that I was totally unaware of. As recounted by Ryan Gilby in the online version of the U.K.’s The Guardian:
“Henriksen’s distinctive features have haunted cinema screens for almost half a century – that drawn face, those goggle eyes in their deep-scooped sockets, the high forehead and prim lips. His first paid gig was as a prison yard extra on The American, a 1960 TV special with Lee Marvin. “I was in jail myself at the time for vagrancy. They paid me $5 and I told the guard: ‘I’m not a vagrant any more!’” He even asked Marvin to spring him from the slammer. “He looked at me, like: ‘Hold that thought,’ and walked off. Hahaha!”

P.R. image of Lee Marvin as Ira Hayes in John Frankenheimer’s THE AMERICAN (1960).

Interestingly, Henriksen’s IMDb profile makes no mention of the appearance, but it does list his first acting credit as an extra in the film version of Ira Hayes released the same year with Tony Curtis as The Outsider. I’d take Henriksen’s word over IMDb any day.
It does however mention that Henriksen made his big screen debut over a decade later as an extra play a train yard worker on Emperor of the North (1973). His bigger break came two years later as an FBI agent in Dog Day Afternoon.

Actor Lance Henriksen in his prime in the mid-1990s.

There’s other odd connections the now 80-year-old Lance Henriksen had to Lee Marvin. He may be the only actor to ever play Marvin’s frequent costar, Charles Bronson, as he did in the TV-movie version of Jill Ireland’s battle with cancer. He also played a bounty hunter in Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man (1996) who kills and cannibalizes two men named Lee & Marvin. Strange but true. May not be worthy of Lee Marvin Point Blank but it works for this blog. Wonder if Henriksen himself sees the connection.
– Dwayne Epstein

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