About Dwayne Epstein

Dwayne Epstein is the author of a number of young adult biographies, covering such celebrity personalities as Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Hilary Swank, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Denzel Washington for Lucent Books’ “People in the News” series. Epstein also contributed to Bill Krohn’s bestselling books “Hitchcock at Work” and “Joe Dante and the Gremlins of Hollywood.”Prior to writing biographies, Epstein contributed to film chronicles on a regular basis. He wrote for Filmfax Magazine on subjects such as Bobby Darin, the Rat Pack, television pioneer Steve Allen, film director Sam Fuller, comic book artist Neal Adams, “Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s” Kevin McCarthy, John Belushi and comedy legend Sid Caesar. Epstein later contributed to Cahiers Du Cinema’s “Serious Pleasures” which had a high profile in Europe. He wrote on American films chosen for rediscovery by directors Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood. Early in his career, Epstein earned his first professional writing credit reviewing films for Hearst Community Newspapers. Epstein was born in New York’s Coney Island in 1960, and moved West with his family at age 8, spending the rest of his childhood in Cerritos, Calif. He moved back east, attended Mercer Community College in New Jersey, and also served as an assistant editor for the five area newspapers of Cranbury Publications. Epstein made one more cross-country move and currently resides in Long Beach, Calif. When he is not writing, he enjoys watching and reading about movies and collecting soundtracks.

JACK NICHOLSON DIRECTS LEE MARVIN…ALMOST

Jack Nicholson once came this close to directing Lee Marvin in a film Nicholson considered a dream project for years. The iconic film legend just turned 82 years old, supplying the perfect reason to blog about the project that almost was. I discovered this near-miss while researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, one of several frustratingly close projects the actor almost made that I put in a separate appendix in the back of the book.

Lee Marvin on location in Malta for SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, around the time Jack Nicholson wanted him for MOONTRAP.

Jack Nicholson, circa 1977, at the time, the hottest property in Hollywood.

The project was entitled Moontrap, based on a novel by Don Berry. It was part of the author’s “Oregon Trilogy,” and, according to Amazon:
“The year is 1850, a transitional period in the new Oregon Territory, with settlers and lawmakers working to subdue the untamed region. Johnson Monday, a former mountain man, has been living on a bend of the Willamette River near Oregon City for seven years with his Shoshone Indian wife, struggling to make a place in settled society. One day, Webster T. Webster, a raucous, unrepentant trapper, arrives for an unexpected visit. With his earthy humor and stubborn adherence to the simple life, “Webb” leads Monday through adventures that flirt dangerously close to lawlessness, while helping him to rediscover his moral center. Through defiance, triumph, and tragedy, Moontrap follows Johnson Monday as he realizes that relinquishing the stark honesty of mountain life for the compromises of civilization may be too high a price to pay.”

As hot a property as Nicholson was at the time, he was unable to get the financing he wanted to get the film made. A major sticking point was the fact that he only wanted to direct it, not star in it. Several investors were approached, almost agreed, and then walked when Nicholson declined to get in front of the camera. It’s a shame really, as it would have made a fascinating and worthy project had it come to pass. Not sure which role would’ve been played by Marvin, but the character’s situation of Johnson Monday sounds like the original plot to the stage play Paint Your Wagon. However, the description of Webster T. Webster sounds more like Lee Marvin’s screen persona.
We’ll never know now, of course. We can merely wish the great Nicholson a most happy birthday and recall the immortal words of John Greenleaf Whittier: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’ “

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KINO LORBER RELEASES THE ICEMAN COMETH ON BLU-RAY

The new cover of Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray release of THE ICEMAN COMETH.

Full cover insert to Kino Lorber’s original DVD release of THE ICEMAN COMETH back in 2003.

Kino Lorber, the DVD releasing company, has chosen to release The Iceman Cometh on Blu-Ray as of late last month. The same company had released it on DVD back in 2003 but they must have figured the time was right to update it to the newer technology. As far as any extras go, the Blu-Ray version has the same goodies that the good folks at Kino Lorber had added to the 2003 version.
To put it another way, if you want to know some fascinating, never-befoe-published stories about the making of this criminally underrated classic, then don’t think you’ll find it on the Blu-ray. The best place to find such gold nuggets is between the pages of …that’s right, Lee Marvin Point Blank. What nuggets, you ask? Well, through due diligence (and timing), I was fortunate enough to get interviews with the likes of director John Frankenheimer, co-star Jeff Bridges, and several of the children of Robert Ryan. All of whom told me wonderful and unheard of tales concerning the making of the film.
What kind of stories? Well, you can find out who the other superstar actors who were offered the Lee Marvin role of Hickey that Frankenheimer hoped would say no. You can discover the valuable inside lesson Jeff Bridges learned fro Marvin that they DON’T teach in acting school. Then there’s the very strange and off-putting thing Marvin did the day he met film legend Fredric March, that is according to Cheyney Ryan, Robert Ryan’s son who was there to witness it.
Don’t take my word for it, of course. See the brilliance of Marvin’s performance and the rest of the cast on Kino Lorber’s recent Blu-Ray release and then, for the full story on The Iceman Cometh’s making, read Lee Marvin Point Blank. You won’t be disappointed.
– Dwayne Epstein

On the cover of the now defunct WORLD Magazine, Lee Marvin does his part to promote THE ICEMAN COMETH.

Hard-to-find four record set of the film’s soundtrack. Cool cover, huh?

2-Page spread in 1973’s edition of SCREEN WORLD.

 

 

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FASHION TRENDS & LEE

According to first wife Betty Marvin: “Lee’s screen appeal in a way was a lot like Humphrey Bogart, except that Lee was actually much better looking than Bogart.”

Fashion trends may seem an unlikely subject for a blog promoting Lee Marvin Point Blank. Choice of firearms may seem a more likely subject. However, based on what several folks have told me over the years about the man, fashion trends is a subject that does indeed deserve some undo recognition.
For example, Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin, told me, “Lee, of course, had a great body and looked great in clothes. Lee really had great style. His social wardrobe was just a knockout. We both used to love to dress up. He was very handsome….”

Betty Marvin (left) with husband Lee (bottom right) dressed approriately for a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Party.

 

A more recent example came from a friend via social media, Bill Consolo, who recently recounted this memory from his mother:

“My mom was out to dinner with friends at the now long gone Frascati, on the corner of Wilshire and Rodeo Drive. Of course there was a restaurant and a bar and the way mom told it to me was that she noticed Lee Marvin at the bar all alone. Mom knew who he was immediately because as she said when you saw him, he was just as you saw him on the screen. She said he was tall and lean and a very good looking man. What stuck out to her was that he was dressed in blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a pressed white linen dress shirt. Remember this was still the 1960s. My mom was well traveled at these places and knew plenty of celebrities but she said Lee stuck out in Beverly Hills like a sore thumb because she had never seen a man dress like that. Mind you, my mom thought there was nothing wrong with it either, because he looked so damn handsome.”

Backstage after winning his Oscar, Lee wore the requisite formal attire, but topped it off with the then fashionable chevron tie.

Having partied all night after his Oscar win, the next morning Lee held an impromptu press conference at LAX on the way back to the London set of THE DIRTY DOZEN, but still managed to look fashionable in boots, khakis, sport coat and bandana tie.

A 1980 People magazine article pictured Lee doing what contemporaries like John Wayne & Robert Mitchum would never do: Join the roller boogie craze, with fashion trend-y head band and Walkman.

Even in old age, Marvin set fashion trends with a crisp denim shirt and zippered suede vest topped off with a Stetson Open Road Fedora.

-Dwayne Epstein

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