DIRTY DOZEN PODCAST

Dirty Dozen (1967) podcast came as a well-timed pleasant surprise. It proved to be the brainchild of the versatile Steve Rubin, a writer, director, producer and yes, podcaster extraordinaire. After having done a previous podcast a while ago, Rubin contacted  yours truly to ask if I’d be willing to do it again in which the subject would be a Dirty Dozen podcast to be done along with film historian and screenwriter Steve Mitchell (Chopping Mall-1986). Of course I said yes. 

Montage of images from The Dirty Dozen.


    I got to know Steve Rubin through the auspices of FIlmfax magazine. Publisher Mike Stein asked if I’d like to an interview Rubin following his publication of The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia which turned out pretty good. We would talk periodically and help each other with research projects as he invited to me to join him and Stave Mitchell on a previous podcast. There were a few false starts but eventually it came to pass and despite my overt enthusiasm, I think it came off rather well.
     The latest installment of Rubin’s “Saturday Night at The Movies” podcast is available for listening now and I think it also came off rather well. We ran the gamut in discussing Robert Aldrich’s classic, covering everything from its flaws, its cast, screenplay, and its lasting impact. I especially enjoyed talking about the contributions of Ken Hyman,  Bob Phillips, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown and Telly Savalas. I come off a little too much like a hyperactive fanyboy, as usual, but the points are all well made. Luckily, I not only got to share thoughts of from Lee Marvin Point Blank but also hint at what will be included in next year’s publication of my book dedicated to The Dirty Dozen entitled Killin’ Generals by Kensington Publishing. So, give a listen here and feel free comment, criticize or what have you. In other words, enjoy!

Pop culture podcaster, Steve Rubin


– Dwayne Epstein

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KILLIN’ GENERALS UPDATE

Killin’ Generals update indeed! I had previously mentioned on this blog that my latest project concerns the making of The Dirty Dozen (1967) and as promised, here’s some great news about its progress.

Montage of images from the one, the only, the original, THE DIRTY DOZEN.


As many of you know since The Dirty Dozen came out over 50 years ago, not many of those involved in the production are still around. However, I did get an interview and some rare photos with the film’s 94 year old producer Ken Hyman. Also I spoke with actress Dora Reisser (she played the fraulein Telly Savalas killed) who was very insightful about her role in the film. I’ve also spoken with several of the adult children of cast members who shared there own exclusive memories of their father’s work on the film.

Telly Savalas & Dora Reisser as they appeared in THE DIRTY DOZEN.



Best of all (drum roll), as of this week, 87-year-old Donald Sutherland responded to my interview request with some wonderful and exclusive anecdotes. Great news, doncha think?
 The best part is I have in my archival research interviews conducted with several others involved in the film who are no longer with us. They include the likes of Clint Walker and Bob Phillips. Phillips had an extraordinary history besides playing the role of Cpl. Morgan. Best of all, he was hired to ‘babysit’ Lee Marvin during production and although some of what he told me can be read in my bio Lee Marvin Point Blank, the majority of what he stated remains exclusively untold …..until now! Publication is Father’s Day, 2023.
 There’s still more to come in terms of the exclusive research I have been gathering, but for this Killin’ Generals update should suffice for now. So, until the next time, happy Easter and happy Passover to one and all. Or, As Dirty Dozen director Robert Aldrich used to say, “Onward and upward!”
– Dwayne Epstein

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LEE SOBEL

Lee Sobel is my new literary agent and thanks to him, I get to be a paid writer again! It happened surprisingly fast which amazed both of us but in fairness, it had a rocky start. He had contacted me out of the blue via Facebook with the following message:

“Hi Dwayne – I’m a literary agent who specializes in pop culture memoirs and biographies. I am currently seeking writers for book projects. I’d like to read your Lee Marvin book to get a sense of your writing. If you already have an agent then disregard this message – otherwise please contact me if you are interested – thank you.” 

Since my agent Mike Hamilburg passed away in 2016 I’ve had a lot of false starts trying to get an agent or even solicit projects to publishers on my own. I came close a few times when several university presses showed interest in my proposed Charles Bronson bio but ultimately, the advances offered were too small to live on. Worse, the idea of further researching and writing Bronson’s life and career proved uninspiring, especially those god awful Death Wish movies and other Cannon fodder. 

Enter Lee Sobel. After he wrote me, I checked out his website and did some Googling. When I discovered he was not the charlatan some other agents I’ve approached proved to be, I wrote him back. Still, I was wary, as no agent had ever approached me since it was always the other way around. The conversation went smoothly but when I told him about my Bronson project he immediately shot it down. Actually, a good thing in the long run, but his quick dismissal of the project disappointed me. Okay, fast forward a few weeks later. He contacted me again stating he had sold several books about the making of individual films and asked if I’d be interested in something a long those lines. He suggested Point Blank (1967) and this time I shot him down. I immediately suggested The Dirty Dozen, released the same year but a film of Lee Marvin’s I liked MUCH better.

Now we were on to something. I discovered that unlike Mike Hamilburg, whom I adored as a complete mensch, Lee Sobel was very tech savvy. He explained how to go about writing a proposal in an extremely short period of time. For instance, in place of a sample chapter, I should include the section of Lee Marvin Point Blank about The Dirty Dozen. Ingenious move, Mr. Sobel. Still, it was a daunting task considering it took me nearly 20 years to get the Lee Marvin bio to market and Sobel wanted the proposal in one week! Much to my surprise, as well as my girlfriend Barbara, I pulled it off. I sent it to Lee, he tweaked it slightly and according to him, only hours after sending it to Kensington Publishing, he got this response from editor Gary Goldstein:

“I loved Mr. Epstein’s bio of Lee Marvin, thought he did a superb job. When I was publishing Ernie Borgnine’s autobiography in 2008, we talked a lot about Lee Marvin but especially DD……I remember my dad taking me to see DD when it first came out — in fact, he took me to see it a second time a week later and I went back a third and fourth time with my pals…Anyway, would it be possible for Mr. Epstein to knock out an overview of the book? Not a chapter by chapter breakdown but just a description of the events…Several sets of eyes will be perusing the proposal so I’d like it to be comprehensive as possible, especially for those at Kensington who weren’t even born when the movie came out.”

Another daunting task, right? Well the stars were aligned as I had just made contact with a British journalist named Tom Fordy who wrote a great online article on the making of the film. I gleaned his sources and wrote up something of my own as comprehensive as possible. Gave it to Lee who sent it on to Gary. Then the waiting began. In the mean time, I wasn’t sure if what I wrote was up to snuff (which you can read here).

Once again, the stars aligned, but in a very strange way. What happened was my girlfriend and I had to be out of our apartment for several days as our landlord was tenting the building to get rid of the termites. Not being able to access my phone proved to be a good thing. Lee had called several times wanting to tell me of Kensington’s offer. Because I never responded, the offer kept getting better. Finally while checking my e-mail on my laptop at the the library, I got Lee Sobel’s message via e-mail. The last and final offer was the best I ever received…EVER! I whooped out loud, library rules be damned! 

Lee Sobel, proving his reading taste as improved immensely since we met.



Okay, so now, got the contract, received the advance and other than writing this blog, I am thoroughly entrenched in all things Dirty Dozen. “Killin’ Generals: The Making of The Dirty Dozen, The Most Icon WWII Film Ever Made” will be available Father’s Day, 2023 and I could not be happier about it. Thanks again, Lee…Sobel and Lee Marvin!
– Dwayne Epstein 

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