Friday, September 2, 2011
THE PROFESSIONALS (1966)
Lee Marvin Week Day 6
(The Professionals, 1966) Not a 1001 entry, but would be on my list.
The plot: A rich railroad man hires four gun for hires to go into post-revolution Mexico to retrieve his kidnapped wife.
The rich guy, named J. W. Grant, is played by movie veteran Ralph Bellamy. Bellamy’s career spanned from Astaire/Rogers pictures in the thirties to his memorable role as one of the rich assholes in Trading Places.
His wife is played by Claudia Cardinale. 1001 entries for Ms. Cardinale include 8 ½, The Leopard, Once Upon a Time in the West and Fitzcarraldo. She may also be the sexiest woman in the history of film, so we can understand all the shootings, explosions, kidnappings and revolutions fought in her behalf. Or maybe you have to be a man to understand.
And Jack Palance as Mexican rebel Jesus Raza. I must say that Palance (who I know best from Shane and City Slickers) is playing essentially the Anthony Quinn bandit chief role. I think he does a pretty good job with the accent.
The hired guns:
Lee Marvin, the weapons expert-more on him in a minute.
Burt Lancaster, the explosives expert and top line star of the film. Burt seems very at home with action in the film, is given some good dialogue and one-liners, and even seems perfectly at home when he is hung upside by some banditos.
Robert Ryan, older, but still tough, though not as tough as the other guys. But I’m not going to criticize someone who loves horses that much.
Woody Strode, may have gotten more quality parts in the 60’s than any African-American actor not named Sidney Poitier. Formerly teamed with Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and later with Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West. He plays the bow and arrow expert here.
No l001 love for director Richard Brooks: Despite directing The Blackboard Jungle, Birdman of Alcatraz, In Cold Blood, Lord Jim, The Professionals and other films of note, Brooks has zero entries in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Book. Wow! And I thought Stanley Kramer got screwed!
But today’s blog is supposed to be about Lee Marvin:
Marvin’s character, Henry “Rico” Fardan, rode with Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, and was former weapons expert and tactician for Pancho Villa. He also speaks Spanish, so is an ideal man to send into Mexico. Rico is really the leader of the group. Even though Lancaster is the biggest star in the movie, it is really Marvin who calls the shots. And he does it in such a low-key way. I don’t think he raises his voice throughout the entire movie! Who can command respect doing that? I guess the answer would be Lee Marvin. Compare his performance here with his loud psychopath in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It’s a totally different performance and just as good. And Lancaster and Marvin make at least as good a team as Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Lee Marvin Quotes
J. W. Grant: Your hair was darker then.
Fardan: My heart was lighter then.
Fardan: Certain woman have a way of changing some boys into men and some men back into boys.
Fardan: What else is on your mind besides 100 proof women, 90 proof whiskey and 14 karat gold?
Fardan: We made a contract to save a lady from a nasty old kidnapper…who turns out to be you.
J. W. Grant:You bastard!
Fardan: Yes, sir. In my case an accident of birth. But you sir, you’re a self-made man.
Tomorrow: Day Seven of Lee Marvin week!