GREGORY WALCOTT INTERVIEW FOR HIS 87TH BIRTHDAY!

Gregory Walcott, veteran character and member of the Clint Eastwood stock company, recently celebrated his 87th birthday on January 13th. So, for this auspicious occassion, I have taken the liberty of posting my interview with him from Filmfax Magazine. He agreed to the interview as part of my research for Lee Marvin: Point Blank, having worked with the actor in Prime Cut (1972). His colorful anecdotes about working with Marvin all went into the book but I found his career so fascinating, I asked if he would be willing to expand on it for a full magazine article. He readily agreed and, from 1998, I give you the results. Happy birthday Greg, I wish you at least 87 more. Enjoy one and all!

Cover of Filmfax featuring my Gregory Walcott inteview.

Cover of Filmfax featuring my Gregory Walcott inteview.

 

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As a postscript to the above article, I can proudly say that Walcott was so enamored with what I wrote, he contacted the magazine and penned the following letter of praise. It was published in the next issue, and what can I say? Talk about a mensch! What a guy!!
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Lee Marvin, His Father, Monte, and a Lifelong Conflict

In researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, one of the most poignant aspects became Lee’s conflict and relationship with his father, Monte, from childhood to adulthood. As a child, Lee desperately sough his father’s love and respect but instead, often ran afoul of his father’s discpline and rigid authority, as explained exclusively by his older brother, Robert. One such event, in which Lee was allowed to be beaten by other kids in the neighborhood at his father’s urging took place around the time of the photo below, with young Lee on the far left….

 

snow kidsIn spite of such events, and some even worse, Lee maintained an undying love and respect for his father throughout his life. He said differently to his Prime Cut costars at the time of Monte’s death (Point Blank) but the photo below, tells a different story….
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Perhaps the most harrowing story concerning their relationship, was related to me after the book came out by actor Bruce Davison. Had I heard or knew of that story in time, it defintely would have gone into the book, not for exploitative purposes but as a way to fully understand the dynamics of Lee and Monte Marvin’s complex relationship.

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MORE LEE MARVIN PAPERBACK TIE-INS, THE 1970s

The 1970s is now considered a golden age of American filmmaking as the studio system and production code became extinct and new filmmakers and revisionist ideas took hold. For Lee Marvin, that period was a mixed bag with a nary a hit film throughout the decade but several that went on to become bona fide successes with the passage of time. Monte Walsh (1970) for example, based on Jack Schaefer’s novel, found an audience years later but flopped when first released. Below are several paperback tie-ins from that very tumultuous decade….

1spikesPrimeOn the right is Prime Cut (1972) with Gene Hackman, a strange gangster/exploitation/action film that featured a mostly nude young Sissy Spacek and a whole lot of strange imagery. It has gone on to become quite cult phenomenon. On the left, The Bank Robber, retitled Spikes Gang (1974) for cinematic release that held promise but ultimately failed at the box office. Director Richard Fleischer explained why Marvin agreed to it in  Lee Marvin Point Blank (p. 204).

 

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1973 was a banner year for two quality Lee Marvin projects that just didn’t click with audiences for various reasons. Book versions of two literate projects failed to even take advantage of ripe promotion at the time. Instead, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh was in print highlighting the stage version fro the 50s, not the Frankenheimer film put out by the American FIim Theater in limited release then remained unseen for decades.

On the right is a recent reprint of the original source material for Emperor of the North written by the actual A No. 1 himself pictured in the center with his hobo cohort Cigaret, better know as writer Jack London.

 

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Marvin attempted to recapture the fun of Cat Ballou with the 1975 AIP release of The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday but with a much more bawdy attitude. The result was lost on audiences. Worst yet, was the film adaption of William Bradford Huie’s well received novel, The Klansman, a well intentioned project that proved a dismal failure on every level. Marvin does get to pull a gun on O.J. Simpson, though.

 

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 The downward turn continued with 2 films that were just a case of too little, too late. Shout at the Devil (right) was based on a popular European novel by Wilbur Smith but would have been more suited to the 1950s or 1960s as a film than its release year of 1976. Cold War spy thriller’s were also a thing of the past by the time the ill-fated Avalanche Express was released in 1979. It is not largely known that cult film director Monte Hellman actually took over the film when originally assigned directed Mark Robson died suddenly during production, as did costar Robert Shaw (Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 213-214)

 

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