100 BEST FILMS OF ALL TIME

100 Best Films of All Time? Pretty impressive concept for a list, if I do say so myself. A gargantuan undertaking, to be sure, but I recently came across a website attempting to do just that. Granted, such lists have existed elsewhere, such as within the American Film Institute and elsewhere. What makes this particular list different is how updated it is to include films as recent as 2021.
   Therein lies the problem. I can understand updating a list every five or ten years or so. However, to be considered “the best” anything requires several aspects, most notably, the test of time. A film released last year may be considered great now but in a few years could be largely forgotten or considered overrated in its day. This particular list can be taken to task for just that reason among others. It also failed to acknowledge several known classics that has most definitely stood the test of time. There are no Capra classics on the list, such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) It Happened One Night (1934), and others. Also non-existent are the films of such stars as Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Jane Fonda, Steve McQueen, Meryl Streep or James Cagney. 
   Granted, such a list is highly subjective but the fact that this list was said to have been compiled by film critics makes me shake my head in disappointment as they really should have known better. Sure, nowadays everybody seems to be a film critic via social media, but if these acknowledged critics were really worthy of the title they should definitely know better!
   Okay, my rant is over…well, almost. There sis only one single solitary Lee Marvin movie on the list. No, not Point Blank (1967). Not The Dirty Dozen (1967), not even Bad Day at Black Rock (1955! The one film? Believe it or not, at number 78 — which puts it near the bottom — they chose this….

Lee Van Cleef (far left) watches as Lee ‘Liberty Valance’ Marvin holds his own up against film legends Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

And the worst part is they give away the twist ending without even a mention of a spoiler alert! I’ve always said any critic who gives away the ending of the film in a review should not be allowed to do their job. Unforgivable! 
    Okay, now the rant is over. Don’t just take my word for it in terms of the problematic aspects of the list. You can read this “100 Best Films” list for yourself by clicking this link. Read it and weep, as they used to say. In the mean time, you can always find out what made the likes of Lee Marvin more worthy of such a list, or any list for that matter, by reading Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

 

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MAY 2022 ON TCM

May 2022 on TCM means the airing of a couple of Lee Marvin perennials and some special tributes I am very much looking forward to seeing.  As to the perennials, for this May 2022, it seems TCM loves to show these two classics, especially around Memorial Day…

(L-R) Russell Collins, Walter Brennan, Spencer Tracy (seated), Dean Jagger, Lee Marvin and Robert Ryan in Bad Day at Black Rock.

Marvin confronts Robert Ryan in the Oscar-winning The Dirty Dozen.

As to the rest of the month’s line-up, there are some interesting Lee Marvin connections, even though he doesn’t appear in the films listed. That aside, I chose to highlight the ones worth watching. Don’t forget to check your local listings for your time zone’s start time…. 


Dark of the Sun (1968) Wednesday, May 5th & Tuesday May 24: Airing in tribute to Yvette Mimeux, this little seen acton film has Rod Taylor delivering one of the most amazing fight scenes I’ve ever witnessed, as well as a pretty decent performance from Lee Marvin’s Dirty Dozen costar, Jim Brown. 
The Verdict (1982) & Hombre (1966) Thursday, May 5th: Two very different performances from two different time periods by two very great directors but both feature Lee Marvin costar Paul Newman. I’ve written about Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict previously but Martin Ritt’s Hombre deserves a second look. An ensemble cast features superb performances by all but especially Richard Boone. Could very well have been played by Lee Marvin. Also costars The Iceman Cometh’s (1973) Fredric March.
The Catered Affair (1956) Sunday, May 8th: Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin’s frequent costar, costars this time around with the legendary Bette Davis in this poignant inner-city drama directed by Richard Brooks, based on the TV play written by Paddy Chayefsky. Davis has never been better and Borgnine revisits Chayefesky’s Marty (1955) persona in a very different way. Also look for a young Debbie Reynolds, Rod Taylor and curmedgeonly Barry Fitzgerald.
John Ford, The Man Who Invented America (2018) Sunday, May 8th: I don’t know anything about this documentary but you can bet the house on the fact that I will be watching. In my humble opinion, this director of such Lee Marvin classics as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Donovan’s Reef is the greatest of all American directors.
Crossfire (1947) & Edge of the City (1957) Saturday, May 14th: Robert Ryan’s sole Oscar-nomination and John Cassavetes self-proclaimed best early work highlight the Dirty Dozen’s costars claim to fame. Very different films but definitely worth watching for their performances alone. 
The True Adventures of Raoul Walsh (2014) Wednesday, May 18th: As with the John Ford documentary, I never heard of this either but since Walsh directed many of my favorite films (including an early western with Lee Marvin) I’ll be checking it out. 
Seven Days in May (1964), Papillon (1973), The Wind & The Lion (1975) Wednesday, May 25th: These three well made films are being shown as part of a tribute to my all-time favorite film composer, Jerry Goldsmith. Watch these films for the music alone and you’ll see why he’s my favorite.
Memorial Day Weekend Marathon featuring: 
Bad Day at Black Rock
(195?) Saturday, May 28th & The Dirty Dozen (1967) Monday, May 30th: All weekend long Turner is showing some great films which naturally means the airing of these two perennials!

So there you have it, May 2022 on TCM for Lee Marvin fans and cinephiles alike. If you want to know more any of these films or the people involved, there’s always Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, all the best!
– 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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