LIBERTY’S WHIP

Liberty’s Whip may not sound like an apt title for a classic surf music instrumental but for a short time it actually was. According to an article I recently read online, the surf music craze of the early 1960’s included the monster hit “Pipeline” by The Chantays which reached #4 on the Billboard pop charts. According to a quote in the L.A.Times by The Chantays’ Bob Spickard:
“When we wrote it after school, just plugging our guitars in and doodling, we originally called it ‘Liberty’s Whip’ because we were big Liberty Valance fans,…Then we went to a surf movie at high school–I’m sure it was one of Bruce Brown’s–and they had a big shot of the Pipeline (one of Hawaii’s best but most dangerous surf breaks), and we went, ‘Wow, far out!'” 

Lee Marvin as Liberty Valance & Edmond O'Brien as Dutton Peabody.

Lee Marvin brandishes his quirt, a.k.a. Liberty’s whip, as Shinbone Star editor Dutton Peabody (Edmond O’Brien) dramatically awaits Valance’s next move.


  Not earth-shaking news, but just a little tidbit I never knew and recently discovered. I still think the title “Liberty’s Whip” sounds pretty cool and might even make a great name for a rock band. 
 As to the more famous musical incarnation of the film, as most fans of the film know, Gene Pitney’s song was never used in the film and no one is quite sure why. Rumor has it the film’s director, John Ford, heard it and hated it. Kind of a shame I think as I feel it fits pretty well, especially since the music by Burt Bacharach has a western tweak and the lyrics by Hal David does an impressive job of dramatically setting up the climax of the film without giving away the twist. Oh well. I know fans of the film who agree with Ford’s assessment which is why there’s no mention of it in Lee Marvin Point Blank. There is, however, several great anecdotes about the film, such as the hilarious one Christopher Marvin told me about the time his father introduced him to John Wayne. It’s a personal favorite. 
In the mean time, posted below is the lyrics to Gene Pitney’s hit song, followed by a YouTube music that DOES give away the twist ending so don’t click it if you haven’t seen The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance….

When Liberty Valance rode to town,
the women folk would hide, they’d hide.
When Liberty Valance walked around,
the men would step aside.

Because the point of a gun
was the only law that Liberty understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast,
he was mighty good.

From out of the east a stranger came,
a law book in his hand, a man. 
The kind of man the west would need
to tame a troubled land.

‘Cause the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast,
he was mighty good.

Many a man would face his gun
and many a man would fall.
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance,
he was the bravest of them all.

Now the love of a woman can make a man stay on when he should go, stay on.
just trying to build a peaceful life where love is free to go.

But the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood.
When the final showdown came at last,
a law book was no good.

But the point of a gun was the only law that Liberty understood.
When it came to shooting straight and fast, he was mighty good.

Alone and afraid she prayed that he’d return that fateful night, that night.
when nothing she said could keep her man from going out to fight.
From the moment a girl gets to be full grown 
the very first things she learns
when two men go out to face each other
only one returns

Everyone heard two shots ring out,
one shot made Liberty fall.
The man who shot Liberty Valance,
he shot Liberty Valance
he was the bravest of them all.

What the hell, just for the heck of it, here’s Bob Spickard and friends performing Pipeline, aka Liberty’s Whip. Great little ditty, ain’t it?

– Dwayne Epstein

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LEE MARVIN’S BEST MOVIES? NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Lee Marvin’s best? That’s a pretty subjective concept. After all, one man’s meat is another man’s poison but still and all, some things along such lines are pretty obvious.  “The 5 Best Lee Marvin Movies” is the title of a recent blog entry I came across by chance on the web and the concept is the subject of this blog.
I’m not really big on chiding other writers but the author’s choices leave much to be desired. The title alone is somewhat irksome: “The 5 Best Lee Marvin Movies.” Why only five? Wouldn’t ten be more appropriate for such a lengthy career? And his choices! If you can’t see the link I included above, here’s what he chose:
5. The Wild One
4. The Big Heat
3. Cat Ballou
2. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
1. The Dirty Dozen
Can you see the problem I had with the choices that were made? Three of the five are not even Lee Marvin movies in the strictest sense. Marvin had supporting roles in The Wild One, Big Heat and Liberty Valance. Granted, they were great scene-stealing roles, but supporting roles, nonetheless. They are all better known as Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford & John Wayne movies and Lee Marvin would be the first one to say it. All the films (and more) are of course recounted and detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank, by the way. It also includes Marvin’s input into these roles as well as what he thought of each of them.
While I applaud the effort made in the end to encourage others to seek out Marvin’s films, doing so by this list would make someone wonder what’s the fuss about Lee Marvin since he apparently was merely a villain in the 1950s & 1960s. The author barely recognized the fact that Marvin was a major star in the 1960s & 1970s.
I’m not and never have been a fan of “Best Lists,” which is why there isn’t any on this blog site. However, if one were to attempt a list of Lee Marvin’s best, here’s a good start, at least in terms of what might make someone a fan. Consider the following a sort of starter kit. If after viewing these films, you’re still not a fan, then you never will be.
– Dwayne Epstein

The Professionals, 1966.

Point Blank, 1967

Monte Walsh, 1970

Emperor of the North, 1973

The Big Red One, 1980

 

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LIBERTY VALANCE REDUX? HERE WE GO, AGAIN!

Liberty Valance redux looks to be on its way into production with some slight changes. According do Deadline.com, John Ford’s classic western will now be about the NY Drug Wars of the 1990s.

The 3 principal cast members of THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (L-R): Jimmy Stewart (Ranse Stoddard), Lee Marvin (Liberty Valance) and John Wayne (Tom Doniphon).

Movie purists will angrily shake their fists at such blasphemy but before they do, there’s some things to keep in mind, so take a deep cleansing breath…..

Liberty Valance toying with his prey on the streets of Shinbone before the big finale.

– John Carpenter did the same with Howard Hawks’ classic western Rio Bravo (1959), by updating it to Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), which itself was later remade in 2005.

– Hawks also bastardized the tale himself over the years with both El Dorado (1967) and Rio Lobo (1970), all three of which starred John Wayne. So much for acting and directing legends maintaining the integrity of their careers.

– Oh, I know Rio Bravo Redux is not Liberty Valance Redux. For the record, it’s also not the first time The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has had a redux..of a kind. There was a stage play mounted in London a few years back that received surprisingly good reviews.

For Lee Marvin’s opening scene in the film, readers of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK know the real reason he’s wearing the bandana over his face.

–  Also, an updated remake of Liberty Valance has been bandied about for a while now as I had blogged about it back in 2015. As you can see by the blog entry, I’m certainly not defending the idea of an updated remake. Quite the contrary. It’s just that I think in this day and age we should no longer be either shocked nor surprised by such things. Sadly, it is the way of the world we live in.
Besides, to paraphrase the famous line in the film, “When the truth becomes the legend, (re)print the legend.” Would you expect anything  less from Hollywood?
– Dwayne Epstein

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