BRUCE DERN, A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE

Status

Bruce Dern, The legendary Oscar-nominated actor turned 86 years old on June 4th. The length and the breadth of his career certainly deserves recognition. Although he never worked with Lee Marvin, the two actors did have parallel careers, almost crossing paths a few times despite their age difference they both guest starred on the likes of Wagon Train, Ben Casey & Route 66. as documented in Lee Marvin Point Blank
   That aside, I’ve read much about him lately via social media in praise of his canon of work and that canon is worthy indeed: The best screen version of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1972); A rival to Jane Fonda in both They Shoot Horses Don’t They? (1969) and Coming Home (1978); a recent inductee into the Quentin Tarantino stock company with Django Unchained (2012), The Hateful Eight (2015) and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019); a cornucopia of other great films in his seven decades of acting that is still going strong. 
  However, the role he will always be remembered for is that of “Longhair” in the John Wayne western The Cowboys (1972). It’s been said that as the man who shoots the Duke in the back, Wayne told him with a smile “They’re gonna hate you for this,” to which Bruce Dern replied, “Yeah, but they’ll love me in Berkeley for it.”
   Such stories abound on social media lately, but the one I liked best came from Dern’s 2007 memoir, “Things I’ve Said, But Probably shouldn’t Have.” For some reason this great little anecdote has not been mentioned so I intend to rectify that:

The cover of Bruce Dern’s 2007 memoir.

“We’re filming the The Cowboys and in the first scene I’m trying to get Wayne’s character to hire me. Duke says, ‘Who recommended you?’
I say, ‘Mr. Leeds recommended me to you, Mr. Anderson.’
He says, ‘Really? And how long ago did you meet him?’
I say, ‘Oh, about six weeks ago. I was down yonder at his ranch.’
‘And you rode all the way up here just to see me? If that’s the case, you rode a long way for nothing, because I ain’t interested in hiring you..’
‘Really? Why is that, sir?’
‘Because Leeds died four years ago. So you’re a liar. An I don’t hire liars.’
‘Well, I swear on my mama’s sainted grave that I ain’t no liar.’
Duke says, ‘I’d question that somebody like you ever had a mama.’
I look around and I say, ‘Well sir, if you’re going to coin a phrase ‘had a mama,’ I guess I’d say I had yours about five years ago.’
   Wayne just breaks up laughing. He’s up on a horse and he turns around in the saddle, and the sun is sinking, and you can’t really see the expression on his face because he’s got that goddamn lid hat that comes out to here. He looks pretty fucking great on a horse when he’s up there all six foot six and 285. He looks around and says, ‘And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why this prick is in the movie. It ain’t gonna be in the movie. But that’s why he’s the guy that’s gonna kill John Wayne. Because that’s clever goddamn thinking ain’t it?’ Everybody breaks out and applauds. And then we go to take two.”

Photographer Bob WIlloughby’s on location portrait of Bruce Dern in The Cowboys.

So, happy birthday Mr. Dern, and many, many more!
– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button

MARCH 2022 ON TCM: 31 DAYS OF OSCAR!

March 2022 on TCM means the annual salute to the Academy Awards with their month long program of 31 Days Of Oscar. Previous years had TCM programming it’s Oscar show in February but the pandemic has moved the actual award show to March 27th, hence TCM’s showcase airing March 2022.
This being a website/blog maintained to promote the life & work of Lee Marvin, I’ve gone through the TCM schedule for March 2022 to highlight several films for both the potential and dedicated Lee Marvin fan. Of course, all these films won Oscars thru the years, while previous schedules included films that were also nominated.  Wouldn’t it be nice to include films that SHOULD have been nominated? If they did, then we movie fans would be treated to such Marvin classics, as Point Blank (1967), Hell in the Pacific (1968) Monte Walsh (1970, Emperor of the North (1973)  and more! Might be something TCM schedulers could consider in the future. By the way, Only one film listed below actually stars Lee Marvin so the reason the others are listed is explored to a much greater extent in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Until then, below are the days and times (PST) of films Lee Marvin followers can look forward to this month. 
The Dirty Dozen
(1967), Thursday, March 10th, 3:15 p.m.

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

I don’t think it’s possible for me to write any more about The Dirty Dozen than I already have….oh, wait! There certainly is more, as I’m in the midst of researching “Killin’ Generals: The Making The Dirty Dozen, The Most Icon WWII of All Time” to be published by Kensington Press on Father’s Day, 2023, so stayed tuned for that as I’ve already acquired a staggering amount of exclusive research that no one as ever seen before! 

The Longest Day (1962), Thursday March 10th, 5:00 pm.

Original ad art for the all-star production featuring an international cast for THE LONGEST DAY..



Producer Darryl Zanuck’s mammoth tribute to D-Day still holds up after all these years and the Oscars it won were well-deserved. Rarely known factoid: It’s believed that Zanuck wanted Lee Marvin for the John Wayne role but Marvin was briefly repped by MCA at that time and turned it down. Proved to be one of the myriad of reasons the actor went crawling back to Meyer Mishkin and stayed with him for the remainder of his career.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) Monday, March 14th, 5:00 p.m.

(L-R) Lew Ayres as the innocent your soldier with Louis Wolheim as wizened sergeant in Lewis Milestone’s anti-war classic, ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT.


The first and still one of the best anti-war films to ever come out of Hollywood, it was the only film to win Best Picture for Universal Pictures for many a decade. Lee Marvin is on record as calling it one of his favorite films from his childhood on. He was especially enamored by Louis Wolheim’s war-weary Sgt. and the way in which he cared for his charges. Marvin claimed to have based his performance in The Big Red One (1980) partially on Wolheim’s, as well as his own father, Monte Marvin. Check it out and see for yourself. By the way, frequent Marvin costar Ernest Borgnine played the role in a TV-movie remake.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

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


(1948) Tuesday, March 15th, 10:00 p.m.
Legendary director John Huston’s classic tale of greed among professed friends earned the director’s father, Walter Huston, a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and with good reason.  Why is it listed here? Well, according to Lee Marvin, it also contained one of his favorite realistic fight scenes ever put on film as I related here

Rashomon

Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa’s 1950 classic, RASHOMON.


(1950) Wednesday, March 16th, 1:15 a.m.
In the postwar years of the early 1950s, the United Sates opened up the distribution of foreign films to America, forever changing the face of international cinema. A foreign filmmaker who led the charge was Japan’s Akira Kurosawa with a plethora of amazing productions starring Toshiro Mifune. Rashomon is listed here as some may know that Mifune was Lee Marvin’s favorite actor, mainly for his Samurai films. In this film, though, Mifune is a thief who commits a heinous act which is depicted from the various points of view of the people involved. As with many of Kurosawa’s films, Rashomon was later Americanized as the Martin RItt Film The Outrage (1964) starring Paul Newman, but with much less success. Mifune on occasion dabbled in American films but Kurosawa never did. He came close once with his original screenplay of Runaway Train (1985) which was eventually made by others. Who was his choice for the role played by Jon Voight? None other than Lee Marvin. 

A wonderful line-up of films for March 2022 are presented so feel free to check out the full calendar
Curious, in the current climate of international events, think TCM may show some Sergei Eisenstein films any time soon? I didn’t think so. 
– Dwayne Epstein

 

Share Button

CINEMA’S GREATEST VILLAINS

CINEMA’S GREATEST VILLAINS! Pretty bold statement, wouldn’t you say? Well, that’s what I found when doing a Google search and came up with this clickbait entry. Granted several of the choices are right on the money, such as Robert Mitchum In Cape Fear (1962) and Night of the Hunter (1955) and of course, Lee Marvin in many of his earliest roles but he also made a terrific return to villainy in Gorky Park (1983). 

Lee Marvin as nefarious sable dealer Jack Osborne in 1983’s Gorky Park.

Just to make the point as in the case of the likes of Marvin, Mitchum and other leading men who have sauntered occasionally into the realm of classic villainy, sometimes the best of them are actors you wouldn’t associate with cinema’s greatest villains, such as Laurence Olivier in Spartacus (1960) or Gregor Peck in The Boys From Brazil (1978). It’s one of the reasons I always felt it was a shame John Wayne never played an out and out bad guy, just once. He came close a few times with his characters being pretty close to the edge in such films as The Searchers (1956) and Red River (1948) but never a complete villain, sadly.
Speaking of John Wayne movies, Bruce Dern was one of the great bad guys of all time in The Cowboys (1972). 

Basically stated, I believe in order to be an especially memorable bad guy that can rank among cinema’s greatest villains, you probably need to have a little of what it takes off-screen, as well. I’m not alone in that belief, either. To quote Lee Marvin himself, as I do often in Lee Marvin Point Blank:

“You know as character actors we play all kinds of sex psychos, nuts, creeps, preverts and weirdoes. And we laugh it off saying what the hell it’s just a character. But deep down inside, it’s you baby.”
 – Dwayne Epstein

Share Button