BRUCE DERN, A BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE

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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

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APRIL 2022 ON TCM

April 2022 seemed to get here fast and with it, comes a month-long slate of films on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Unfortunately, that month does not contain a single Lee Marvin film and very little Lee Marvin-related films. However, there are indeed some favorite films I intend to watch that I’ve always enjoyed and are listed below…..

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The Hustler: Breathtaking and gritty cinematography by Eugene Shufton highlight this classic with a powerful supporting cast. Oh, and Paul Newman. 
Midnight Cowboy: Dustin Hoffman’s absolutely greatest performance.
Brute Force: Well titled brutal prison break film toplining a young Burt Lancaster.
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid & The Sting: It’s all been said.
The Actress: Less remembered film of Ruth Gordon’s memoir with a standout performance from Spencer Tracy as her father.
The Life & Times of Judge Roy Bean: Screenwriter John Milius actually wanted Lee Marvin for the lead role as shown here.
The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Don Juan: The best films of TCM’s Star of the Month, Errol Flynn.
The Drowning Pool: Underrated sequel to Paul Newman’s Harper.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game: Kelly & Sinatra together again with a standout dance number by Kelly doing “The Hat Me Dear Old Father Wore.”
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Don’t know if it’s Lon Chaney or Charles Laughton but it doesn’t matter. Both are excellent!
The Getaway: McQueen, Peckinpah, ’nuff said. 
Badlands: Chilling and haunting film debut by director Terence Malick.
Barfly: Mickey Rourke as writer Charles Bukowski back when Rourke took his career seriously. 
Days of Wine & Roses: Jack Lemmon & Lee Remick are heartbreakingly good as a young alcoholic couple.
The Natural:Robert Redford is perfectly cast in one of the greatest baseball films of all time highlighted by one of the greatest scores of all time courtesy of Randy Newman.
The Story of Mankind: Irwin Allen’s bizarre take on human history with an all-star cast. Must be seen to be believed.
Five Minutes to Live: Speaking os needing to be seen to be believed, Johnny Cash stars in this neat little thriller as a “Door-to-door Killer,” (the film’s alternate title), costarring future Oscar winner, Ronny Howard.
The Magnificent Seven: All star cast headed up by Yul Brynner in my all-time favorite western.
Going Home: Robert Mitchum murders his wife witnessed by his young son. Now a grown Jan-Michael Vincent, with eyes on Mitchum’s new wife, Brenda Vacarro. Pretty trippy character study.
Gentleman Jim: Another Flynn favorite as he plays Heavyweight champ Jim Corbett.
The Cowboys: Not that big of a John Wayne fan but this one is a must-see. Beware, it’s also VERY poignant.
Kelly’s Heroes: One of the first Dirty Dozen rip-offs with costar Donald Sutherland’s ‘Oddball’ stealing every scene he’s in.

Check your local listings for days and times. Who knows, April 2022 maybe Marvin-less but perhaps May 2022 will be Marvelous. And don’t forget, you can read all about him in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

 

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MOVIEFONE: 57 GREATEST WESTERNS

Moviefone, the ubiqiutous movie info and streaming site, decided to rank the 57 greatest westerns of all time and to its credit, three Lee Marvin classics are on the list.

Original poster to SEVEN MEN FROM NOW with 3rd billed Lee Marvin.

Poster to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

Poster art for THE PROFESSIONALS.




I came across the Moviefone list by chance only recently as it was posted back in 2017. I mention this since it was posted in honor of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood’s mutual birthdate of May 31st. Eastwood is now an amazing 91 years old!
  Personally, I’ve never been a fan of “Best Of….” lists, especially since there are bound to be some obvious omissions. This list is no exception, despite the inclusion of three Lee Marvin films, the single best of his westerns was indeed omitted. The full list can be read here
Upon reading it it’s seems to be rather weak on any Gary Cooper classics, save for High Noon, which belongs on any list of great westerns. Where is The Westerner (1940) or Along Came Jones (1945) or The Virginian (1929)? 
 Also, if you’re going to include such western comedies as Way Out West and Destry Rides Again, why not Support Your Local Sheriff and of course, Cat Ballou? Also missing are such personal favorites How the West Was Won (1962) as well as Tom Horn (1980) and the string of 1972 greats of The Cowboys, When Legends Die, Bad Company, and The Culpepper Cattle Company
Okay, enough griping…well, what the hell is TV-movie mini-series Lonesome Dove doing on the list? Okay, griping over. As to the reason this is even posted in a blog dedicated to the life and career of Lee Marvin, author Gary Susman did have the presence of mind to include the three Lee Marvin films, all good choices but once again, left out the best of the bunch. No, not the aforementioned Cat Ballou
It’s not only one of Lee’s best films and performances, it’s one of the best westerns ever made. Any guesses? 
Of course, any more info needed or wondered about can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, in the immortal words of Bruce Willis, “yippie-kay-ay, mutha….”
 – Dwayne Epstein

Monte Walsh, 1970

 

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