MICHAEL DUKAKIS, ROBERT REDFORD…AND ME

Yeah, that’s right. Michael Dukakis, Robert Redford and me. I know it sounds strange but we all kind of hung out together once. Seriously. Okay, it’s a bit of stretch so allow me to explain. It was the Fall of 1988, a presidential election year, and I was a student at New Jersey’s Mercer County Community College, long before I even thought about writing Lee Marvin Point Blank. I had made friends with the guy who ran the school paper, although I wasn’t on staff. When I told him about a rally for Dukakis that was scheduled on the campus of nearby Rutgers University, he asked me if I would cover it. I said I would and even took some pictures. He also said I could write it up any way I wanted so I did it as a sort of first person essay. Oh, and the presence of Robert Redford to a lowly New Jersey rally was a pleasant and welcomed surprise.
I tried to be as impartial as possible but I was an obvious supporter of Michael Dukakis. In fact, I canvassed for him door-to-door during the election in my neighborhood of East Windsor. Yeah, Bush, Sr. won the election and even took New Jersey, too. However, out of curiosity, I checked the precinct numbers after the election and in our little hamlet of East Windsor, where I canvassed, Dukakis won. Moral of the that little anecdote is not about bragging. Just wanted to point out there’s more that anyone can do in a democracy than merely vote. Just saying…
Anyway, below is my write-up of the Michael Dukakis rally where he and Redford and I all hung out one day. Well, kinda. I recently rediscovered the article and it reading it, numerous typos aside, I think it’s not bad. Judge for yourself, of course. As for Mike and Bob, I still don’t know why they haven’t answered my call for a reunion in the last 30 years…..
– Dwayne Epstein

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THE URBAN LEGENDS OF LEE MARVIN

Urban legends have a way of never fading into permanent obscurity no matter how great the effort is to exterminate them. You all know the ones: The faked moon landing, the origins of AIDS, the scuba diver scooped up by the water helicopters and then burned when dumped in a wildfire. My personal favorite has to do with Neil Armstrong and what he may have actually said when he stepped on the moon’s surface, but that, as they say, is another story.
Believe it or not, there are actually several such urban legends with Lee Marvin as the central focus.  Google the following words or phrases and you’ll see what I mean:
– Lee Marvin’s life was saved in WWII by Bob “Captian Kangaroo” Keeshan.

Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo (L) and Lee Marvin probably never even met, despite urban legends to the contrary.

– James Coburn is Lee Marvin’s brother.
– Marvin had his sciatic nerve severed when wounded on Saipan which earned him the Navy Cross.

Within the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank, readers will not find any reference to these myths, for the simple reason that they are not true. Simply denying them is not enough for some folks, which I guess is the reason the website Snopes came into existence. One of the things that keep such rumors alive (or at least believable) is the amount of details they are given to make them seem true. I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve heard say to me, “I know it’s true about Captain Kangaroo because I saw Marvin tell it on Johnny Carson.” As they say, the devil is in the details.
As for James Coburn, well there is indeed a certain resemblance, but that’s as far as it goes. Lee Marvin did have a brother, though, Robert, who bore no resemblance to James Coburn.

Lee Marvin & James Coburn looking brotherly on an episode of M SQUAD.

(L-R) Actors Lee Marvin, James Coburn, Katy Jurado and director Sam Peckinpah enjoying themselves in the late 70s.

I remember once many years ago being in the great memorabilia shop, Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, when I overheard an argument about the very same subject. The owner walked over to me to settle it, calling me the resident Lee Marvin expert. A simple shake of my head may have lost somebody a very big bet.
As to Marvin’s war wound, that’s harder to disprove as Wikipedia and elsewhere still repeat it. I’ve seen his service record which includes a medical report. His sciatic nerve was NOT severed and he did NOT win the Navy Cross. Purple Heart, yes, but not the Navy Cross.
I’m sure such urban legends will continue no matter how great the effort is to squelch them. Instead of wondering whether they’re true or not, I have a better idea. Read Lee Marvin Point Blank. The real story of Lee Marvin is infinitely better than any urban legend.
– Dwayne Epstein

Urban legends aside, in LEE MARVIN POINT TBLANK yours truly DOES  write about these two miscreants and get the inside scoop on their “related” lineage to Lee Marvin.

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GREAT SCOUT & CATHOUSE THURSDAY COMES TO BLU-RAY

Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, Lee Marvin’s 1976 AIP release, has recently come out on Blu-Ray on the Kino Lorber label.  It being a Lee Marvin film, naturally I researched and wrote about it for Lee Marvin Point Blank.

An original p.r. still from GREAT SCOUT & CATHOUSE THURSDAY with (L-R) Ashley, Lenz and Marvin. The promotional caption says it all.

What’s it about? Marvin is, (get this) Sam Longwood, the great scout and it takes place during the 1908 presidential election of William Howard Taft. It was released, after all in the year of the bicentennial so patriotic banners and flags are on full display. Longwood and his cohorts, sleazy little Billy (Strother Martin) and Harvard-educated native-American Joe Knox (Oliver Reed) are bound for Colorado to collect their stolen money from former partner and now respected businessman, Robert Culp. Along the way, they way lay a wagon full of prostitutes named for the days of the week that Knox wants to ‘utilize’ to infect the entire caucasian population with veneral disease. The runt of this litter of soiled doves is named Thursday, aptly played by Kay Lenz, who is enamored with Marvin but is constantly groped by Martin. There’s also, among others, Marvn’s old flame, played by Elizabeth Ashley, and Kay Lenz’s former boss, played by Sylvia Miles. It being  a Lee Marvin film, naturally this bawdy tale ends in an all-out brawl between Marvin and Culp in which the rest of the cast joins in.

Lee Marvin as Sam Longwood discovers is former lover, Elizabeth Ashley, is not the woman he remembered her to be.

The Blu-Ray release, which could be ripe with supplemental material, sadly is not. Other than the film itself it contains only a trailer for other company releases. Had they asked, I could have provided some insight into the film, as I interviewed Kay Lenz extensively, who told me some wonderful stories about the film’s production and it’s cast of divergent characters. Anyone interested in finding out what went on during the film’s location shooting in sweltering Durango, Mexico, what Marvin himself thought of the film and his costars, can find it in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Newspaper wire image promoting the film.

Paperback tie-in published to promote the film.

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