Lee Marvin

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

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Alan K.
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Laid Back Lee

Post by Alan K. »

Lee's funniest performance wasn't Cat Ballou. His portrayal of "Slob" in SHACKOUT ON 101 is an absolute masterpiece and has to be seen to be believed.
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Post by moira finnie »

Lee's funniest performance wasn't Cat Ballou. His portrayal of "Slob" in SHACKOUT ON 101 is an absolute masterpiece and has to be seen to be believed.~Moxie
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Hi Alan!
Welcome back from the dark side--meaning of course, the Noir City Festival! I appreciated your little report from there and your comments on Kirk Douglas over in the Film Noir section of this site.

You are correct about Mr. Marvin's characterization of "Slob" aka Mr. Gregory in the too little seen Shack Out on 101 (1955). This cold war comedy (in my eyes) is truly a fascinating bit of celluloid from the nuclear standoff genre of that era, especially since it features one of the most outlandish plotlines of any flick from the paranoid fifties.

The only thing that could've made this better would be if some giant ants, James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn stopped by for some coffee served up by that 'tomato' Terry Moore, at her most overheated...though come to think of it, given the hygiene habits exhibited by Lee Marvin in this one, I think I'll pass on that coffee break.

Btw, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but one of my history professors went ashore with Lee Marvin in the first waves of Marines on Saipan during WWII. He always claimed that what you saw was exactly what you got with Mr. M.

Speaking of "M", let's not forget M Squad, a very good, extremely violent tv show from the fifties that probably brought Lee Marvin his first steady paycheck since the Marines. Great show. Marvelously real actor.

To be truly honest, I first stopped flipping around once when Shack Out on 101 was playing late one night just to see one of my favorite forgotten actors, Frank*sigh* Lovejoy! I'm not being sarcastic, either. There was just something about his intelligent, tense face, wrinkled brow and that endearing little worried throb in his slightly raspy voice that gets me. Man, I wish he could've kicked those cigarettes he chain-smoked in every movie--which is probably one factor in his death at the relatively early age of only 49.
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Alan K.
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Post by Alan K. »

You are correct about Mr. Marvin's characterization of "Slob" aka Mr. Gregory in the too little seen Shack Out on 101 (1955). This cold war comedy (in my eyes) is truly a fascinating bit of celluloid from the nuclear standoff genre of that era, especially since it features one of the most outlandish plotlines of any flick from the paranoid fifties.
Hi Moira:

The Noir City festival was really terrific. No other burg approaches San Francisco for film noir fanaticism.

SHACK OUT ON 101 is so outrageously over the top; it resides in a cinematic category all its own.

Last year, I introduced a screening of SHACK OUT in Santa Monica and had Terry Moore as the special guest. Her recollections of the filming remained facinatingly vivid; hunting rabbits with Lee Marvin and Keenan Wynn during breaks in the shooting and the brilliant improvisation of the barbell and fight scenes by Marvin. Terry absolutely loved Lee Marvin. According to Miss Moore, he was not only a uniquely superb actor, but an authentic American hero. I also had the privilege of meeting Lee's widow once who is quite a lady and possesses a terrific sense of humor. Lee Marvin was quite a piece of work.

I have several old videos of M-Squad, one of my fave TV cop shows. Any television program that has music by Benny Carter, a lead portrayal by Lee Marvin has to be good. M-Squad is an prime example of how film noir morphed into episodic television during the 1950's.
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CONSPIRACY ALERT...

Post by Ollie »

Here's the TCM.COM link for SHACK OUT ON 101:..

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=89704

...that will let you 'vote' to place this film on some fantasy Make-Into-DVD list as well as SUGGEST THIS FILM to TCM.

Let's pile on and see if we can get this one added to the TCM schedule. I will be most pleased to reciprocate on all other titles, too.

I sure wish some TVLand Channel could be re-invented to bring us M-SQUAD quality shows - the calibre of shows that got TVLand started!
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M Squad out on dvd

Post by moira finnie »

Good news, Lee Marvin fans.

M Squad is being released on dvd next week on November 11, 2008. While Amazon acts as though it's doing us a favor by offering the entire 15 disc set for $107+, I think that Netflix should soon have it available asap, and used dvd sets should start popping up later on the internet.
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Some of the reprobate's finest moments on film came in Marvin's still lean, hungry and hungover years in his work in the tv series M Squad 1957-1960. This program, which did not get nor did it want the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval™ from any sane broadcasters, taught me that:

1.) Life is unfair, especially in the Big City, which in this case was Chicago. One episode of M Squad, featuring a Chi-town cop taking a bribe, allegedly prompted Mayor Richard Daley 1st to ban all filming of movies or tv in that fair city, (until The Blues Brothers came along).

2.) If you see a one ton 1953 Ford with a huge aggressive grill on the front careening around a corner toward you, get out of the way. The letters "M Squad" and Lee, with weapon drawn and an exceedingly cold eye was about to pop out of the car and get a bead on you. Also, you may not live long in this grittier cross between The Naked City and Dragnet, but your life will be as colorful as it can get in black and white, and the music in the background, contributed by Count Basie & Benny Carter, among others, is great.
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2.) The number of bodies shot, stabbed and run over in this show was inordinately high.

3.) Lee Marvin, with his face like a cross between a tired doberman and a snub-nosed revolver, was a great actor, even when the writers failed him.

4.) If you were lucky enough to see these programs in endless repeats in the '60s (without the parents' knowledge somehow), you were armed with one unsanitized version of the real, if rather warped world that most of tv of that era never gave you. I must've been about five when I first discovered the dark doings of M Squad on our local UHF channel, but it hasn't hurt me. Yeah...right.
Last edited by moira finnie on November 8th, 2008, 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by klondike »

Pardon me, Ms. Finnie, but WE'LL be the judge of that!!

[youtube][/youtube]
klondike

Post by klondike »

And now, Lee brings us a word from the SPONSOR:

[youtube][/youtube]
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Post by moira finnie »

Hmm, well, Klondike, that mink-draped dame may look slightly like me, but I would not be running away from that guy beating up on my boyfriend.

After a lifetime of being annoyed by the vast majority of babes in movies and tv shows who stand by helplessly while some blackguard knocks the stuffing out of their male companion, I am a card-carrying member of the Maureen O'Hara School of Pugilism. We never run away, but pick up the nearest rock, tire iron, or spiked high heel and administer a hellacious thrashing from behind on anyone foolish enough to vex with our companion du jour.

Of course, once my enterprising numbskull recovered from that bullet wound at point blank range, I'd also be sure to tell him in no uncertain terms to forget about his g.d. business cards if your wallet's being stolen at gunpoint in the future. Cheez. Some guys!
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Post by klondike »

moirafinnie wrote:
You are correct about Mr. Marvin's characterization of "Slob" aka Mr. Gregory in the too little seen Shack Out on 101 (1955). This cold war comedy (in my eyes) is truly a fascinating bit of celluloid from the nuclear standoff genre of that era, especially since it features one of the most outlandish plotlines of any flick from the paranoid fifties.
Shack 's one of my all time favorite "goofy-cool" 50's movies, right up there w/ Beast from Hollow Mountain, Hell on Frisco Bay, & Ruby Gentry.
One of the things that I enjoy the most about it, that actually took me until the 4th viewing or so to figure out, was the way Lee's performance as "Slob" helps to support & evoke co-star Keenan Wynn's seldom-seen gonzo-comic side.
As for the stoicly 2.5-dimensional Terry Moore, all I can say is that then-hubby Howard Hughes was allegedly casting about (pun not intended) for roles for Terry that would not have her getting all staticky with any beach-blanket types, enabling him to maintain his own grossly paranoid "me-only" brand on her cheeky pin-uppish-ness. According to what I remember of her Playboy nude pictorial in 1983 {she shared the feature with Vicky LaMotta}, she survived Howie's high-stress domination in pretty good shape!
moirafinnie wrote: To be truly honest, I first stopped flipping around once when Shack Out on 101 was playing late one night just to see one of my favorite forgotten actors, Frank*sigh* Lovejoy! I'm not being sarcastic, either. There was just something about his intelligent, tense face, wrinkled brow and that endearing little worried throb in his slightly raspy voice that gets me. Man, I wish he could've kicked those cigarettes he chain-smoked in every movie--which is probably one factor in his death at the relatively early age of only 49.
Wasn't Mr. Lovejoy the lead in one of those "save America from the flying saucer" mini-epics from later in the Ike Era?
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Post by moira finnie »

Wasn't Mr. Lovejoy the lead in one of those "save America from the flying saucer" mini-epics from later in the Ike Era?
I'm not sure about that, but he made one of those movies that made you look at everyone around you with a more jaundiced eye and for once Frank Lovejoy was the star! Frank, who had an endearingly tense and worried expression and seemed to smoke in every scene he ever appeared in before his untimely but predictable early demise, courted immortality in:

I Was a Communist For the FBI (1951), directed by my favorite schlockmeister, Gordon Douglas, who also brought us Them! (1954)...Yes, yes, I hear all and sundry padding over to the keyboard to tell me that I am defaming the honor of a lost auteur, who brought us Up Periscope (1959), (actually a good movie), Harlow (1965), Chuka (1967) (which could not have been all bad 'cause it had Rod Taylor in his prime in it), the last two Frank Sinatra movies worth spit, Robin and the Seven Hoods (1963) & The Detective (1967) and Viva Knievel (1977), his swan song as a director. I kid, of course. Any time I see Gord-o's name on a movie I know I'm going to be entertained, one way or another.

Btw, if you have time to listen to 45 minutes of chat, Michael Daves, the son of a truly neglected and talented director, Delmer Daves, can be heard discussing many things about his Dad here on Icons Radio with Stephen Bogart & John Mulholland. The younger Daves' years as an assistant director in Hollywood, when he had many educational and amusing encounters with Gordon Douglas on several jobs are especially illuminating. I like to turn these interviews on while I'm cooking up a storm, mopping the floor or painting something. Some of those Icons interviews are great, btw.

Don't you think it's time that TCM ran Shack Out on 101 as a TCM Underground entry?
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Post by ChiO »

Shame, shame, shame. All this talk about SHACK OUT ON 101 and not a single mention of the glue that holds that gem together...Whit Bissell.

Does anyone else recall Keenan Wynn's diner as being the size of M-G-M's commissary, but having only one or two tables? A surreal masterpiece, Slob included.
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Post by moira finnie »

Hey, ChiO,
Nice observation on the cavernous interior of the diner in Shack Out on 101. Though I can certainly see how the dearth of furnishings lent the place a surrealistic air, I bet it was all because of a small budget.

Keenan Wynn's comic loopiness was there in all those MGM movies, peeking out of his more conventional roles, but you're right, he let it out to play in that Lee Marvin movie.

Whit Bissell must have had it written into the SAG union rules that he had to appear in every other movie made in Hollywood in the '50s, don't you think?

:wink:
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Post by MissGoddess »

I first noticed Gordon Douglas from the later Sinatra pictures (he also did Young at Heart!) and realized how many different films he helmed throughout his rather prolific career. I'd call him a good, "solid" director who knows when to give an actor or actress breathing room to develop character.
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