Broken Arrow: Western Movie, Book, TV, and History Discussion

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 Lee Van Cleef

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Tinhorn



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PostSubject: Lee Van Cleef   Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:41 pm

Read a really good article in the Fall 2011 issue of Guns of the Old West magazine on Lee Van Cleef. Born in 1925 in New Jersey as Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr., Lee worked on farms and served in the Navy during WWII before becoming an actor. He played on stage in "Mr. Roberts" with Henry Fonda, and later landed his first screen role as one of Frank Miller's gang in "High Noon." He was offered the part Deputy Harvey Pell on the condition he get a nose job, which he refused to do, and that part went to Lloyd Bridges.

His hawk nose and steely eyes got him typecast as a heavy, but Lee took acting seriously. He never rode a horse before playing in "High Noon", so he asked Rance Howard to teach him to ride. He never received any formal training, but learned from other actors. He would just ask them to teach him things like dancing and sword fighting, then just practice.

When Sergio Leone was casting the role of Col. Douglas Mortimer in "For A Few Dollars More", he wanted Henry Fonda, who turned it down. His second choice was Lee Marvin, who also turned it down to make "The Dirty Dozen." Leone then looked at Lee Van Cleef and cast him, saying that his looks were perfect for the role of older, more experienced bounty hunter. And, of course, that film gave new life to Lee's career, making him a huge star in Europe, thanks to Spaghetti Westerns like "Death Rides a Horse" and the first and third films of the Sabata Trilogy.
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:03 am

Tinhorn,

Thanks for sharing that article about Lee Van Cleef. Nice article.

It's funny watching him in his younger days. But when it came down to Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns I got to really like him as a actor. He was bad, but he did his part well. Yep, those eyes ( Angel Eyes) !

I did read that In 1958, Van Cleef was involved in a serious car accident and was forced
temporarily to retire from acting. It took his career some time to
recover from this blow and in contrast to his earlier major roles, he
for some years had only occasional small parts. He played one of Lee Marvin's villainous henchmen in the 1962 John Ford classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with James Stewart and John Wayne. He also had a small, uncredited role as one of the river pirates in 1962's How the West Was Won.

I also read that between 1962 and 1965 Van Cleef worked as a painter,after which his career took a new turn when he appeared in numerous Spaghetti Westerns.

It's been a long while since I have seen "Death Rides a Horse". Need to watch it again soon.

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tomgoldrup
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:43 am

When making Yellow Tomahawk in Utah, a 1950's western starring Rory Calhoun and featuring Lee as the lead Indian, a co-star told us a funny story. Alcohol at the time was hard to come by in Utah and way out in Kanab it was even harder. The cast hada bottle they were sharing and one night Lee got it and drank the whole thing and promptly passed out. The rest of the cast was sort of upset since they were now dry. He got the nickname of "Fire Eyes." on the set. He had a really good part in this film, which co-starred Peggie Castle, Peter Graves, Noah Beery Jr., Rita Moreno, Walter Reed, Warner Anderson, James Best & Robert Bray. I recommend this film and lee was really good in it. I grew up enjoying him back when he was young playing all those bad guys in the movies and on TV, just like Jack Elam, Myron Healey and Robert Wilke.....they helped make the movies really fun to watch.
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Tinhorn



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:41 pm

westerngal wrote:
Tinhorn,

Thanks for sharing that article about Lee Van Cleef. Nice article.

It's funny watching him in his younger days. But when it came down to Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns I got to really like him as a actor. He was bad, but he did his part well. Yep, those eyes ( Angel Eyes) !

I did read that In 1958, Van Cleef was involved in a serious car accident and was forced
temporarily to retire from acting. It took his career some time to
recover from this blow and in contrast to his earlier major roles, he
for some years had only occasional small parts. He played one of Lee Marvin's villainous henchmen in the 1962 John Ford classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with James Stewart and John Wayne. He also had a small, uncredited role as one of the river pirates in 1962's How the West Was Won.

I also read that between 1962 and 1965 Van Cleef worked as a painter,after which his career took a new turn when he appeared in numerous Spaghetti Westerns.

It's been a long while since I have seen "Death Rides a Horse". Need to watch it again soon.
Sandy, the article mentions the car accident. He messed his knee and the doctors told him he would never be able to ride horse again. He put himself through physical therapy and was back to acting about 6 months later.

Also, he did some accounting work and interior decorating in the early '60s because, as he put it, the acting parts were "drying up" and he "couldn't pay (his) phone bill."
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Chain Lightning
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:30 pm

Howdy Pards!!

As Lee Van Cleef is quoted as saying" the best thing that ever happened to me, was being born with a set of beady eyes". A wonderful actor and one of the baddest villains in westerns. Sandy and Tinhorn, you're both correct!! Lee was working as an interior decorator, when Sergio Leone invited him to his hotel room and requested that he play the part of Col. Mortimer in, For A Few Dollars More. Lee told Sergio that he would have to come up with 5,000.00(five thousand) dollars to get him out of the contract he was working on at the time. Sergio paid it, and the rest is history!! The 2nd and 3rd installment of the spaghetti westerns For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly made Lee an International film star and he didn't return to Hollywood until the 80's, when he took on the role of the karate expert in the t.v. series The Master, as I recall. Like Strother Martin, Lee died in his early 60's, if memory serves. Two wonderful actors and as long as westerns exist, no one will ever forget their names!!

Ed
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Tinhorn



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:54 pm

He was 64 when he passed away.
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westerngal
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:47 am

HI,

I have never seen the t.v. series The Master. Wonder what it was like! Has anyone ever seen it? If so what was it about?

I'm glad too that Sergio paid to get him out of a contract because I can't imagine anyone else playing his part. He was perfect!

I also liked Sabata (1969). The part again is perfect for him.
Not the last one in the set through, Return of Sabata. I was quite disappointed in it. To me they made a joke of him in this last one. I guess I need to watch the set again. Maybe I would feel differently.

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Chain Lightning
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:58 am

Howdy Sandy!!

Pard, as I recall, Lee played a ninja karate expert(black belt), who often accompanied a karate student around in a van helping out folks with the bad guys. Chop chop, kick kick, kapow!! Sort of a modern day Kung fu, without the bare feet and with the addition of a motor vehicle!! Seems I recollect that Lee was on the set of this t.v. series when he died from a heart attack. That's about all I can remember.

Ed
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chris



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Fri Sep 23, 2011 8:27 am

I vaguely remember it , never cared for Kung Fu movies, the only one I ever saw at the cinema was 'Enter the Dragon' with Bruce Lee & it didn't inspire me to see any more.


Lee Van Cleef was one of the great western character actors who appeared in just about every western of note on TV & umpteen films. Always a bad guy along with Myron Healey & the great Jack Elam.
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westernnut
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PostSubject: hear hear   Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:03 am

Chris,Pards,

I agree with every word that,s been said about Lee Van Cleef,he was a LEGEND.

I honestly cant remember if Lee ever played the good guy,the law of averages say he must have,but,as a bad guy,he was UP THERE with anyone!!!!

Now you guys know I,m not a fan of spaghettis,personal opinion,and Lee was in a "few",but,his reputation stayed intact,he most definitely was a great western character actor.

I,ve just remembered a Lee good guy performance,Barquero,I remember seeing that at the Cinema first time,I went in thinking it was a spaghetti,lo and behold it wasn,t,and I enjoyed it very much,I think.It,s a LONG time since I,ve seen it,I am surprised to hear that Lee died at the early age of 64.

Davy,westernnut.
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Nightlinger



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:32 am

One of VanCleef's early non-western roles was as the soldier who fired the radioactive isotope into The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
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Manco



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:11 pm

I saw all "The Master" episodes. Sho Kosugi who was the ninja sent to dispose of Lee after he left Japan actually did all the fighting and stuntwork for Lee. With the mask over his face they would just show Lee's eyes and then go to him after the action has stopped. I enjoyed it as pure escapism. They made many references to Lee's western career. In one episode they were in a western ghot town and Lee said, "I feel right at home here for some reason." Another time two old ladies came up to him and asked for his autograph. He said why me they said aren't you Clint Eastwood?



If you can find a copy watch Lee and Tony Musante in a made for TV film called "Nowhere to Hide" about a U.S. Marshal protecting a prisoner who has turned states evidence against the mob. This was a pilot for a possible TV series but was never picked up.



Lee was a great character actor who payed his dues and was an even better lead actor as he could express many attitudes with just those eyes.
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schoolgirl



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 1:47 pm

I am a huge fan of Lee Van Cleef. I just watched him in the 1981 film "Escape from New York" with Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, and Adrienne Barbeux. Kurt Russell wears a patch over his eye and admits he was inspired by Clint Eastwood in the role. Lee wears a black shirt and black pants throughout the movie. I think the director (John Carpenter) was brilliant to cast some of these great Western character actors in a post apocalyptic film. I have found Netflix to be a great resource for exploring the old Western films and tv shows. YouTube also has some great clips. "The Master" series is also available on Netflix. The streaming video feature is great. No wIting for DVDs in the mail.
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:08 pm

Howdy Schoolgirl!!

First, let me welcome you to the best western film and actor/actress forum on the net. Throw down your saddle and gear and get closer to the fire and make yourself to home.
Lee Van Cleef has to rank as one of the all time great western actors. His career goes all the way back to the Oscar winning classic High Noon, with Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper, all the way through the spaghetti western trilogy with Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone and into his career as an international western actor in films like Death Rides A Horse, God's Gun and the Sabata series. Then back to Hollywood for his t.v. series, The Master. He has been associated with all the greats of westerns like, John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence along with Jimmy Stewart, Edmond O'Brian, Strother Martin, Andy Devine and Lee Marvin, not to mention all the greats he worked in t.v. with like James Arness, Dennis Weaver, Eli Wallach, Sheb Wooley and too many more to name here. One of the greatest villains ever. Anybuddy thets ever worked or watched a western knows who ole Angel Eyes is!!

Ed
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schoolgirl



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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:25 pm

Thanks for the big western howdy Ed!
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Chain Lightning
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:44 pm

Howdy Schoolgirl!!

You're more than welcome, pard!! Glad to see you posting. We love anything and everything that's western here. We have western fans from all over the world here. Scotland, England, Ireland, from the west to the south to the north and to the east of this great country, the U.S.A. We have western historians, a western screenplay writer, a couple of fellas, who are published authors and who met and knew many of the actors and actresses associated with western films and t.v. series, folks who have walked the hallowed valleys of Monument Valley, Gun experts, horse experts etc, not to mention just plain ole western fans like myself. So, don't be bashful. Jump in and tell us about who your favorite actors/ actresses, western films, western t.v. series etc. Browse the threads and get acquainted with the folks and join in. We'd love to hear whut ya got to say!!!!!

Ed
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:32 pm

Welcome to the forum, schoolgirl. I have been a fan of Lee Van Cleef way back to when he was doing films like High Noon, Yellow Tomahawk & Rails Into Laramie and TV shows like Range Rider and Buffalo Bill Jr on through Gunsmoke & Cheyenne. On the set of Yellow Tomahawk (filmed in Utah) he was known as Fire Eyes because bottles of that ill brew called alcohol was hard to come by in Utah in those days and one of his fellow cast members told us that he snuck what the cast had stashed away and drank all what remained and passed out. Hence, the cast and crew christened him Fire Eyes. A more talented western bad man never graced the screen. He is right up there with the likes of Leo Gordon, Jack Elam, Morgan Woodward & Myron Healey.
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:18 pm

Howdy, Schoolgirl! We're always glad to add a new member to the posse!
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PostSubject: Re: Lee Van Cleef   Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:23 pm

Welcome to the posse glad to have you along for the ride.
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