Veteran Actor Bruce Davison may be best known for the original version of the horror film Willard (1971 ), but his cinematic resume is infinitely more impressive than that cult film. It includes a well-earned Oscar-nomination for the film Longtime Companion (1989), as well as such sterling performances as Last Summer (1969, his screen debut), The Strawberry Statement (1970), Ulzana’s Raid (1972) as well as many more film, stage and TV credits. In fact, I met him briefly while he was appearing on Broadway in the physically demanding lead role in “The Elephant Man” and he could not have been nicer.
While he was making the film Brass Target (1978) in Munich, he occassion to meet Lee Marvin who was filming Avalanche Express (1978). Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank will know the story he so poignantly relates is true and the costar Lee speaks of was the late, great Robert Shaw. My only regret is not having heard this story prior to publication as it would definitely had been a poignant and harrowing inclusion in the story of Lee Marvin.
So, without further ado, Here is Davison’s personal recollection, with his kind permission and in his own words:
“I had one of my most indelible meetings with Lee in 1978. We were in Munich at a drunken brawl of a party for two film productions shooting there. I had recently stopped drinking and looked around the beerhall for another sober face. There was Lee sitting at a table looking quite alone. I introduced myself and he offered me a seat. I said I couldn’t drink like I used to and he said “welcome … Me neither.” As we sat like two shipwrecked survivors in a sea of swill, I had one of the most intimate conversations I ever had with a stranger. He was in his Palimony suit at the time and coping with other issues that were closing in.
He was saddened that his co-star had recently fallen off the wagon and would be dead soon if he didn’t pull out.”
Eventually we started talking about roots and drunken fathers. I told him my father was always a pleasant drunk. “you’re lucky” he said.
I asked him what was the worst. “Well… I guess the worst was when he kicked me down the steps .. I was holding my teeth and the blood was coming out my nose and I screamed up at him “what do I have to do to get you to love me?! ” he said …”fuckin die…” “That was the worst”.
That’s where Lee Marvin came from and I will love him forever even though I never saw him again”