Category Archives: Lee Marvin

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

Richard Burton and the face of a Villain

Villain_USHSRichard Burton has been on my mind ever since I watched him a couple of weeks ago in the strange 1971 British film, Villain.

Burton was a regular fixture on the TV screen in our house when I was young. Like a lot of women of her generation, my mother loved him ever since he played Mark Anthony opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 classic, Cleopatra (the film on which the two met for the first time).

Dad liked his war films, of which there were a few, including Where Eagles Dare (1968), Raid on Rommel (1971), The Wild Geese (1978) and The Longest Day (1962). Burton only had a very brief role in the later, as an RAF pilot shot down over Normandy. A US marine cut off from his outfit stumbles across him lying in the bushes next to a dead German soldier, and Burton gets to utter the immortal line: “He’s dead. I’m crippled. You’re lost. Do you suppose it’s always like that? I mean war.”

Only recently have I come to discover and appreciate some Burton’s other films. His turn as Alec Leamas in the incredibly bleak and noirish 1965 spy thriller, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold still stands as the best and most realistic screen depiction of the Cold War.… Read more

The Don Siegel Rule


donsiegel

I had to give it a name, so I called it the Don Siegel Rule.

I was watching Charley Varrick recently, the 1973 heist film directed by Siegel, starring Walter Matthau as an ex-crop duster and stunt pilot turned bank who, along with his long suffering girlfriend, Nadine, and unreliable partner, robs a small bank in New Mexico. Unbeknownst to Varrick, the bank in question is actually a front for the mob. In response, the mob sends a hit man (played by Joe Don Baker) after him.

It’s a terrific little heist film. Tough in all the right places, just enough action and suspense to keep you interested, without the kind of over the top action gimmicks similar films exhibit these days. Matthau is terrific as the hangdog loner, Varrick.

Anyway, it got me thinking. There may be bad Siegel films out there, but I haven’t seen them.

Siegel was the king of the intelligent B movie (a title he shares with directors such as Walter Hill). His films have enormous energy and pace, but they also have an economy. Watching Siegel’s films, time and again he’s been able to get above obvious budget and script limitations to tell a gripping story.

The journeyman director cut his teeth making Westerns and noirs in the late forties and early fifties, and then pretty much excelled at whatever genre he tried.… Read more