Battle scars and violent interludes: Point blank with definitive antihero Lee Marvin’s biographer

Image for post
Image for post
“Cat Ballou” Oscar-winner Lee Marvin’s official biographer Dwayne Epstein traces the classic Hollywood star’s proclivities for violence on and offscreen in a revealing, comprehensive interview. Seen here promoting his final film, Chuck Norris’s “The Delta Force,” Marvin is a bit more rugged but remains a down-to-earth cowboy in the Tucson, Arizona, cacti-littered desert landscape that he called home for a cover story featured in the April 27, 1986 issue of Parade Magazine. Image Credit: Advance Publications / Courtesy of Dwayne Epstein
Image for post
Image for post
Lee Marvin is the cigar chomping A No.. 1, a decidedly antihero hobo in “Emperor of the North,” a gritty, brutal train adventure costarring Ernest Borgnine. Directed by the underrated Robert Aldrich, the Great Depression-era drama was released by 20th Century Fox on May 23, 1973. Photography by Orlando Suero / 20th Century Fox / Photofest

The Dwayne Epstein / Lee Marvin Interview

Image for post
Image for post
A portrait of laconic, extremely gifted actor Lee Marvin, circa summer 1967 near the release of his World War II blockbuster “The Dirty Dozen.” Image Credit: Photofest
Image for post
Image for post
“Lee Marvin: Point Blank,” written by Dwayne Epstein and originally published in hardcover on January 18, 2013. Image courtesy of Dwayne Epstein / Schaffner Press
Image for post
Image for post
As weapons specialist “Rico” Fardan, Lee Marvin is prepared to go on a dangerous rescue mission during the Mexican Revolution in “The Professionals,” director Richard Brooks’ precursor to “The Wild Bunch” released on November 2, 1966. Image Credit: Columbia Pictures
Image for post
Image for post
Ace-brandishing sadistic killer Lee Marvin is the titular villain of John Ford’s classic 1962 western entitled “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” James Stewart, portraying a timid city lawyer adjusting to the Wild West, is also taught the art of survival by romantic rival John Wayne. Photography by Denis Cameron / Paramount Pictures
Image for post
Image for post
On Christmas Eve 1968, an inebriated Lee Marvin and elder brother Robert Marvin demonstrate their close relationship. Image Credit: The Robert Marvin Collection / Courtesy of Dwayne Epstein
Image for post
Image for post
Lee Marvin and first wife Betty Ebeling are flanked by children Courtenay, Cynthia, Claudia, and Christopher while filming John Ford’s “Donovan’s Reef” on location in Kauai, Hawaii, circa August 1962. Photography by Bernie Abramson
Image for post
Image for post
The late Christopher Marvin, author Dwayne Epstein, and radio host Randy Economy collide during a late May 2013 book signing for Epstein’s “Lee Marvin: Point Blank” in Southern California. Image courtesy of Dwayne Epstein
Image for post
Image for post
Actors Woody Strode and Lee Marvin, who also collaborated four years earlier in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” are seen chatting in Death Valley while filming director Richard Brooks’ “The Professionals” circa November 1965. Image Credit: Columbia Pictures
Image for post
Image for post
Paul Newman and Lee Marvin portray two down on their luck cowboys who agree to transport cattle from Mexico to the United States with unintended, comical results in “Pocket Money,” released on February 1, 1972. Image Credit: Sunset Boulevard / Getty Images
Image for post
Image for post
Lee Marvin clutches an M3 submachine gun aka a grease gun as Major Reisman in the oft-imitated “The Dirty Dozen,” released on June 15, 1967. Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Image for post
Image for post
Audie Murphy portrays bigoted young freighter Gary Brannon in director Nathan Juran’s fast-paced “Drums Across the River,” released in June 1954 and costarring Walter Brennan, who won an Oscar for Gary Cooper’s 1940 flick “The Westerner.” Image Credit: Universal Pictures / Grit Media
Image for post
Image for post
Neville Brand appears in one of his earliest films, “Kansas City Confidential,” a stark film noir released on November 11, 1952, by United Artists. The Staff Sergeant received the Silver Star for gallantry in combat while serving with the 331st Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division, in action on March 1, 1945, in Germany. He later had a memorable costarring role as a scene-stealing, half-Comanche scout opposite John Wayne in 1973’s highly recommended “Cahill: U.S. Marshal.” Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / IMDB
Image for post
Image for post
In the brief anthology series entitled “NBC Sunday Showcase,” Lee Marvin sports heavy pancake makeup to effectively portray World War II hero-Pima Indian Ira Hayes in “The American,” an episode broadcast on March 27, 1960, while “M Squad” was still airing. Image Credit: NBCUniversal
Image for post
Image for post
Before Tom Hanks mastered the art of surviving on an island in “Cast Away,” there was a downed American marine fighter pilot (Lee Marvin) and a Japanese naval officer (Toshirō Mifune) stranded on a deserted island during World War II. The duo must battle nature and each other in John Boorman’s acclaimed, often misunderstood 1968 film, “Hell in the Pacific.” With little dialogue, Marvin and Mifune are the only actors in the entire movie. Marvin considered “Hell in the Pacific” to be one of his favorite projects. Image Credit: Selmur / ABC Pictures / Getty Images
Image for post
Image for post
Somewhere on an MGM soundstage in Hollywood, Lee Marvin is the tough as nails demolition expert Sergeant Turk in a September 17, 1963, episode of “Combat!” called “The Bridge at Chalons.” The acclaimed series aired for five seasons on ABC. Image Credit: CinemaIsDope / ABC Television / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Image for post
Image for post
Still hell bent for leather and unafraid of anything at age 60, Lee Marvin meets the camera head on for “The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission,” somewhere in Britain, November 1984. Photography by Terry Fincher
Image for post
Image for post
Lee Marvin displays a spot-on, zany impression of a cactus in the Tucson, Arizona, desert, on January 3, 1978. Perhaps surprisingly, the actor enjoyed cultivating hundreds of cacti at his Tucson home. Photography by Christian Simonpietri / Getty Images
Image for post
Image for post
Rotten, whiskey-soaked, gun-sellin’ comanchero Tully Crow [Lee Marvin] meets his match with undercover Texas Ranger Captain Jake Cutter [John Wayne] in director Michael Curtiz’s final film, “The Comancheros,” a lively western released theatrically on November 1, 1961. The chemistry-laden duo appeared in a total of three films over the next two years. Image Credit: Cinematographer William H. Clothier / Twentieth Century Fox / screengrab

Written by

Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store