GAY ICONS

Gay icons exist in the movies and two of the most well-known worked with Lee Marvin. Since June is Gay Pride month (which not so coincidentally is also a theme on TCM for the month) I thought it a good time to comment on Marvin’s work with these two prominent gay icons. It’s important to keep in mind that at the time of these two actors’ greatest popularity their sexual orientation was NOT known, as it would have meant professional suicide. This fact of course allowed them to become major stars and sex symbols to their admiring fans.
First up, Rock Hudson, an often mediocre actor at best but a wonderful and legendary light comedian with a charming air when most befuddled. Marvin’s films with Hudson were not memorable in and of themselves but they certainly helped his career. Released in 1953, Gun Fury and Seminole both top-lined Hudson in rather bland performances. Something, in my opinion, that was often the case with him in dramas, with the sole exception being the riveting performance he gave in Seconds (1966). Gun Fury was released in 3-D and allowed Marvin to put on his resume’ that he worked with the great Raoul Walsh as well as a friendship with Leo Gordon. Other than that…

Seminole, on the other hand, actually had scenes in which Marvin and Hudson interacted — albeit, briefly — throughout the movie.

(L-R) Lee Marvin as Sgt. Magruder and Rock Hudson as Lt. Lance Caldwell in Budd Boetticher’s SEMINOLE.

It was simply another programmer for Hudson, but for Marvin it meant working with cult director Budd Boetticher for the first time, who would go on to cast Marvin in Seven Men From Now (1956), one of the actor’s best performances. What did Marvin think of working with Hudson in the overtly macho period films? I have no idea. I do know, however, that for a man of his generation, he had some surprisingly forward-thinking ideas on the subject of homosexuality that he expressed in Playboy Magazine.
As to other gay icon, that would be Montgomery Clift, the legendary Method actor who’s tragic life Marvin witnessed firsthand.

Lee Marvin (left) and RAINTREE COUNTY costar Montgomery Clift photographed by Bob WIlloughby.

Marvin had gone on record as not being a fan of Method actors as a rule yet ironically, he claimed two of the best actors he ever encountered were Marlon Brando (when he cared) and Clift. Raintree County (1957) was the film he made with Clift and was also the film in which Clift suffered a disfiguring car accident early into the production.

(L-R) Lee Marvin and Montgomert Clift as ‘Bummers’ during the Civil War scene in Raintree.

Marvin’s performance in the film is one of his best while Clift is naturally just painful to watch, no matter how hard he tried. That aside, Marvin had his own theory on the accident’s cause which will not be expressed here, as it is strictly hearsay. Luckily, the tragedy of Clift’s forced hidden sexuality and disfiguring car accident does not hamper his legacy as a superb actor, thanks to his many extraordinary film performances.
As to the Gay community in general, Marvin had several run-ins with members of the community on a personal level. One such encounter was hilariously retold to me by Marvin’s friend and costar Bob Phillips and concerns Marvin’s dedication to the USMC. Another concerned one of his children and both tales can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank. So happy Pride, dear readers, and remember, Gay Icons may be everywhere but on film, they are often legendary.

– Dwayne Epstein

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ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Ernest Hemingway has been very much back in the media again, due to filmmaker Ken Burns’ 3-part PBS documentary exploring the author’s life, work and legacy. I have yet to see it but probably will eventually as I do appreciate both Ernest Hemingway’s and Ken Burns’ talent. 
 Hemingway has always been an interesting subject and much of his work was required reading in school, and with good reason. Personally, I preferred his short stories more than his novels and it’s with that in mind, a connection can be made between Ernest Hemingway and Lee Marvin. The most obvious even has the author’s name officially in the title: Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers (1964).

Theatrical poster for the made-for-TV movie (the first!) THE KILLERS, released in theaters worldwide.


  Purists of Hemingway’s work have looked down on the revamped version of the film but there is still some strong Hemingway influence in there. Keep in mind it was a simple story (published in 1927) of the title characters coming to kill a man who doesn’t run from his fate. In fact, he invites it.
The story goes that the original film’s screenwriter, Richard Brooks, met the drunken Hemingway in a bar and asked him what he thought the reason was that ‘Swede’ didn’t run from the killers. “Damned if I know,” the author responded. Adding, “Why do you think they wanted to kill Swede?” Brooks thought for a moment and said, “Probably had something to do with big money or maybe a special woman.” Hemingway’s response: “Or maybe both.”
Granted, the subject in the Marvin film is a race car driver not a boxer but the fact is the title characters become a major focus of the film based on on the 3,000 word short story, as Hemingway may have intended. It’s TV-movie roots aside, it’s still a hell of a movie and one of Lee Marvin’s best so thank you, Ernest Hemingway. 
There’s also another less obvious Lee Marvin connection to Ernest Hemingway. No, it’s not their shard love of deep-sea fishing. Another wonderful Hemingway, short story, “The Snows of Killimanjaro,” was the source material for Marvin’s audition at the Actor’s Studio under the watchful eye of Lee Strasberg.

Susan Hayward comforts gangrene-stricken Gregory Peck in the overblown film version of SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO (1952).


I discovered the story and thought it a great way to introduce the actor and his legacy to the readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank. If you don’t know the somewhat bawdy tale, you can find it in the book linked above. Feedback is always welcome.
– Dwayne Epstein

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JUNE 2021 ON TCM

June 2021 is almost upon us and with it comes a new month of films on TCM. Unfortunately, the line-up is rather sparse when it comes to Lee Marvin but thankfully, thee are a few (rather redundant) choices. 

Ship of Fools (1965): June 12th, 2021.

Lee Marvin off camera as Bill Tenney in SHIP OF FOOLS. Anyone know who the Annette Benning look-alike is helping Marvin adjust his tie?


This Stanley Kramer directed classic has aired on TCM more than a few times but it’s well worth multiple viewings. Diehard Lee Marvin fans are not particular enamored with it as he’s not toting any heavy firepower. In fact, the only firepower he totes is his racist southern accented dialogue. There are many interesting facts behind the scenes concerning Lee Marvin’s involvement in the film that I’ve blogged about in the past, but the best and most intimate revealing details are of course in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Lee Marvin and the diminutive Michael Dunn share a laugh between scenes.



The film is not entirely successful in its melodrama but if you do choose to watch it having not done so before, be sure to hang in for the great scene between Marvin and Michael Dunn, as well as the climax between Marvin and Vivien Leigh. 

The Bat (1959): June 23rd, 2021.
No, Lee Marvin is not in this Vincent Price thriller but he was, believe it or not, in a stage version of the play early in his career. It’s not known which part he did play but it’s a pretty safe bet it was the Vincent Price role. So with that in mind, watch it….if you dare! 
Ahem, sorry.

I Died a Thousand Times (1955): Junes, 25th, 2021. 
Jack Palance took a stab at leading man status in the scene-for-scene remake of Humphrey Bogart’s High Sierra. Marvin’s scenes are minimal as one of Palance’s goofy henchmen but he did leave an impression on a young Shelley Winters as I wrote about previously.

That’s it for June, 2021, Lee Marvin fans. As I said in the beginning, the choices are sparse but I figure ANY Lee Marvin is better than none. 
– Dwayne Epstein

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