The Dirty Dozen Offscreen: Director Robert Aldrich shows Lee Marvin how to kick John Cassavetes when he’s down.

Making The Dirty Dozen (1967) in England took intense concentration on the part of all concerned but The Dirty Dozen offscreen was something else. Of course, after a day’s work several of the pubs in London took their usual dents from Marvin & company, as detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank. On the job, however, was another story entirely.

The above image is a case in point. Director Robert Aldrich (right) is not giving his opinion of the films of John Cassavetes (center). He’s showing Lee Marvin how he wants to see Cassavetes kicked when he’s down during the opening scene of the film. Note the padded mattress used for rehearsal but NOT seen in the onscreen version .

With apologies to Monty Python, Marvin took such important knowledge to heart as he demonstrates his prowess with a “pointed stick” ….


The Dirty Dozen offscreen: The bemused victim is producer Ken Hyman (right) while fellow Lee Marvin crony Bob Phillips (center) vocalizes instructions.

By the way, the photo above was graciously contributed by Phillips who was a former college football star, US Marine and Chicago police detective. He was exactly the kind of guy Lee Marvin would want to pal around with, which is exactly what he did. The interview I conducted with Phillips remains one of my favorites as he contributed some of my favorite stories to the text of my book. He and Marvin spent a good part of their time wreaking havoc and having fun on one movie set or another. Amazingly, despite such bizarre shennigans as the hysterical pub brawl in London and the infamous female reporter incident (gotta read the book!), both men were always ready and able to work the next day. The old saying is true: They just don’t make’em like that any more!

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From the first day he came to Hollywood to the end of his life, Lee Marvin’s sole theatrical representative was the late Meyer Mishkin. There was a brief period during the run of TV’s “M Squad” where they had a falling out, but shortly after that Marvin gladly returned to the fold.
The relationship the two men shared was in many ways typical of Hollywood actor/agent pairings, as described throughout Lee Marvin Point Blank via the exclusive interview Mishkin graciously granted me prior to his 1999 passing. Surviving together for close to four decades in the entertainment industry also proves that in many ways their teaming was quite atypical, such as their first meeting, or what Lee said and did the night he won the Academy Award.
As Lee would often say to Meyer, “You know, I learn Yiddish words from you. Like when you say to me, ‘Lee! Don’t be a schmuck!'”
Pictured below are the two of them at the 1969 London Premiere of Paint Your Wagon. Following that, an exclusive and unpublished anecdote by Mishkin that illustrates how they worked together…


Lee Marvin & agent Meyer Mishkin. Note the look in Marvin’s eyes. He appears to be rather ‘in his cups,’ as they used to say.

Meyer Mishkin: I’ll tell you this one story. He was doing a film at Universal. One day I got a call. “Meyer, you better do something about it. Lee’s shooting the film but tonight he went across the street to the bar. He’s getting loaded.” I said, “Okay.” I came to the studio, Universal, and I went across the street into the bar. I walked in and there was Lee, gyrating all over the place. I walked in, and as he was doing it, I just yelled “LEE!” He turned around, saw me, and went stiff as a board. “Okay.” [Lee said with his hands up]. I said, “C’mon, c’mon. I’m taking you home.” He got into my car and we drove to Malibu where he was living. When we got to the house, got out of the car, walked over to the door, I said to him, “Give me your keys.” He said, I don’t have them. I don’t know where I left them.” I said, “How are we going to get in?” He said, “Don’t worry.” Took two steps back and he kicked the door in. I sat with him for a little while and I said, “Look, I’m going to have a limo pick you up tomorrow morning. I want you to be on the set. You’re gonna be working, etc.” He said [with his hands held up] “All right.” That’s what he used to do. The next morning, he showed up. The limo came, picked him up, took him to the set. Everything was okay. He took, I think another day. I met someone in the industry who said to me about Lee getting drunk in the bar, “Hey, you walked in and he sobered up.” I said, “Yeah, but only ten percent.”

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Unseen Lee Marvin photos?
In researching and writing LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK, choosing the final images that would accompany the text proved to be an embarrassment of riches. However, due to both space and rights restrictions, not all the images were able to make the final cut. Periodically, those images will be seen here and for whatever reason, often make their own themes. Below are three such examples of rare unseen Lee Marvin photos.

First, a still from the climatic opening fight scene from John Ford’s  Donovan’s Reef (1962) with John Wayne in the scenic Hawaiian Islands. The film started out to be the fun-loving romp Ford had intended for all concerned, but Marvin’s excessive partying took a much darker turn as told in Lee Marvin Point Blank.


Lee Marvin and Duke Wayne heed Jack Warden’s advice to stand at attention in the midst of their annual brawl.

Next, there’s an image from writer-director Richard Brooks’ The Professionals (1966) showing the four leads, Woody Strode, Lee, Burt Lancaster, and Robert Ryan with their backs to the camera preparing to shoot the next scene. During the film’s down time in the Nevada desert, Marvin and Strode, along with stuntman Tony Epper, wreaked such havoc in the Vegas casinos that it rivaled the fabled Rat Pack. Marvin is shown here easily talking Strode into doing just that as an uninvited Lancaster curiously looks on.


Finally, while making Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen in England in 1967, Marvin cavorted in the London pubs with former Chicago cop and ex-Marine Bob Phillips (shown left),  who played Cpl. Morgan in the film. An unknown old friend from Phillips’ Chicago days (center) visited the set after a day’s shooting. Phillips’ own caption for this photo: “You can tell’em it ain’t coffee in those cups.”



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