Robert Downey, Jr., the amazing actor who rose from the ashes of his very public substance abuse to become a major film star via such franchises as the very buff Sherlock Holmes and the equally super heroic Iron Man, is now reportedly going to star as the next incarnation of Lee Marvin’s Point Blank (1967) character, Walker. According to this fairly detailed article online.

As Walker in POINT BLANK.

Downey is of course not the first actor to reimagine the pulp novel character of Walker, (a.ka. Parker, Porter, as this article points out correctly, which other sources do not. Crime novelist Donald Westlake, writing under the pen name of Richard Stark, has seen his master thief character portrayed on film by everyone from Jim Brown and Robert Duvall to Mel Gibson and Jason Statham, all with varying degrees of success. Of course, like the many incarnations of James Bond, to most film fans Lee Marvin IS Walker, the same way Sean Connery will always be THE Bond. That said, I’m not one to jump on the “why-are-they-remaking-a-classic” bandwagon, as I think Robert Downey is an exceptional actor and can probably pull it off. Now, if we only knew which version of Westlake/Stark’s character they intend to use…

In other Point Blank related news, the original film’s producer, Judd Bernard, has passed away recently at the age of 94 as reported here.

(L-R) Moderator Jim Hemphill, Point Blank producer Jud Bernard, yours truly, Christopher Marvin and Clu Gulager on stage at the Aero Theater.

I met Bernard briefly as he turned up as a surprise guest on the Q&A panel of a screening of the film to launch the promotion of my book, Lee Marvin Point Blank. That was quite a night and his kind shall not pass this way again. Rest in Peace.
– Dwayne Epstein

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The Wild Bunch remake has recently been announced, to be written and directed by Mel Gibson. Lots of voices are arguing over whether it should even be done but to my mind, the question is will Lee Marvin finally get the credit he so richly deserves? What credit, you may ask? Well, as I discovered in researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, he was heavily involved in the project’s creation and was set to play the William Holden role of Pike Bishop.

Lee Marvin in THE PROFESSIONALS as Henry ‘Rico” Fardan, looking a lot like….

William Holden as Pike Bishop in the original version of  THE WILD BUNCH.

I discovered this lost nugget of information thanks to the files at the Academy Library in Beverly Hills in which the notes and communications between producers Phil Feldman and Ken Hyman tells the remarkable story in detail of Lee Marvin’s involvement in Sam Peckinpah’s renowned classic.
For Marvin’s part, he told his version to Grover Lewis in a 1972 Rolling Stone interview: “Good ol’ lovable Sam. …He approached me about doin’ The Wild Bunch. Shit, I’d helped write the original goddamn script, which Sam eventually bought and rewrote. Well, I mean I didn’t do any of the actual writing, but I talked it out with these guys who were writin’ it, Walon Green and Roy Sickner. Sam said, ‘Jeez, aren’t you even interested?’ I told him I’d already done The Professionals and what did I need The Wild Bunch for? And when the picture came out I didn’t think it really succeeded. It didn’t have the — I mean, it had all the action and all the blood and all that shit, but it didn’ have the ultimate kavoom, you know? It didn’t have the one-eye slowly opening it should’ve had.”
What Marvin failed to mention was the real reason he turned it down and why he made Paint Your Wagon, instead. Career-long agent Meyer Mishkin revealed that to me, which of course, is in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
As to The Wild Bunch remake? I reserve judgement on Gibson’s version until I see it. Bad enough he ripped off Marvin’s Point Blank with his bizarre remake Payback. Hopefully, with The Wild Bunch remake, he’ll give the devil — in this case Lee Marvin — his due.

(L-R) Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode in a p.r. still from THE PROFESSIONALS (1966).

(L-R) Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden and Ernest Borgnine in the climatic scene in THE WILD BUNCH (1969).

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