Category Archives: Lee Marvin

Thoughts on Point Blank at 50

Point Blank premiered in San Francisco on August 30 1967. Critically overlooked at the time, its launched John Boorman’s Hollywood directorial career, became a cult hit and has had an enduring influence on crime cinema. It is a film I have watched on numerous occasions and each time it yields new insights. The 50th anniversary is an opportune time for a few thoughts about its importance.

Point Blank was loosely based the 1962 novel, The Hunter, the first in the series of books by the late Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, about the master thief, Parker. It opens with Walker, as the Parker character is called, played by Lee Marvin, double-crossed and left for dead by his friend, Mal (John Vernon), and wife, Lynne (Sharon Acker), with whom Mal was having an affair, after the three of them have heisted a regular money drop on the prison island of Alcatraz by a powerful criminal network, the Organisation. Walker, somehow, survives his wounds and manages to get off the island. He reappears and proceeds to tear Organisation apart to find Mal and get his share from the heist, the amount of $94,000. He is assisted by a mysterious man, Yorst (Keenan Wynn), who at first comes across as a cop, but is eventually revealed as a senior member of the Organisation, who sees in Walker a means to eliminate his internal competitors.… Read more

Lee Marvin: 10 essential films

Prime CutThe iconic American actor, Lee Marvin was born today, February 19, 1924. To celebrate the occasion, my latest piece for the British Film Institute looks at his 10 essential movies.

You can check out the piece in full here at the British Film Institute site.

The weird & wonderful hidden history of the Logies

TV Week 1959 coverThe 57th annual Logie Awards will take place this coming Sunday, so start looking forward to the red carpet procession, those strange looking statues, and the local and international celebrities. And sure, it’s easy and a bit predictable to bag out the Logies (even many of the guests who attend the awards do so live on social media), but what’s far more interesting is the Logies oft forgotten history.

Some facts about the Logies are well known. Bert Newton has hosted the ceremony 19 times. Kylie Minogue made history in 1988 by being the youngest star to win the Gold Logie. The awards were held on an ocean liner (twice) and, in 1970, a special Gold Logie was awarded to the astronauts on the Apollo 11 for providing TV’s greatest moment, the telecast of the moon landing.

Other Logie related facts are not so familiar. While the official Logie’s website has a comprehensive list of the award winners, it’s far less expansive on the colourful events and controversies that have occurred at Australian television’s night of nights. For that information, one has to dig deep into the Internet and, in particular, the bowels of YouTube, where various unknown individuals have preserved snippets of Logies ceremonies passed.

The first Logie Awards were held in 1959, just a few years after the introduction of television in Australian (Googie Withers was guest presenter and the Gold Logie went to Graham Kennedy and Panda Lisner).… Read more

Toshiro Mifune, Lee Marvin & Hell In the Pacific

MifuneIf he was still alive, Legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune would have been 95 years old this week. He was born on April 1, 1920. I was idly looking on the Internet for images of the imposing Mifune, when I found the fantastic picture above. I don’t know exactly when and where it was taken, but in all likelihood, it was London, sometime in 1967.

Mifune and Lee Marvin worked once together, on John Boorman’s 1968 strange, hallucinogenic war film, Hell In the Pacific. The film was a pet project of Marvin’s and he was reportedly devastated by the fact it did not do well critically or at the box office.

For those of you who are not familiar with the film, Mifune and Marvin played a Japanese navy captain and a US air force pilot, respectively, who are marooned on a remote island in the Pacific and continue to engage in version of the larger war raging around them. In some respects, the film mirrored the real lives of both men. Marvin had served in the war and been wounded in action during the battle for Saipan, while Mifune had served in the Japanese imperial army.

Mifune had approached Marvin with an eye to working with US actor. Despite being somewhat hostile towards Mifune, Marvin agreed to meet.… Read more

Bob Hoskins and The Long Good Friday

Hoskins

A couple of years ago I had a lengthy exchange on social media with a British crime writer on the subject of what was the best crime film to come out of the UK, Get Carter (1971) or The Long Good Friday, released in 1980.

I have to fess up that at the time I took exception to his claim Get Carter had aged badly and The Long Good Friday was the superior piece of cinema, but he was right and I was wrong. I was reminded about this last week, when I heard the star of the Long Good Friday, Bob Hoskins, had died at the age of 71.

Get Carter and The Long Good Friday are both good films, especially in comparison to the slew of movies riffing on London’s underworld past that followed in the wake of Guy Richie’s rather middling effort, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

The Long Good Friday is the story of working class gangster made good, Harold Shand, whose criminal empire starts to unravel, for reasons he is totally unclear about, over a bank holiday long weekend.

Hoskins owns this film from the first moment we see him, walking down a concourse in Heathrow Airport, having just returned from business overseas, the eighties soundtrack pounding in the background.… Read more