LEE MARVIN, VETERANS DAY & LEATHERNECK MAGAZINE

Veterans Day is yet another time to honor the memory of Lee Marvin, and the honor is provided courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine. I was quite surprised to find out how long the magazine has actually been in existence. This month marks Leatherneck Magazine’s 100th anniversary. Not surprising since November 10th marks the 242nd anniversary of the Marine Corp itself, so there’s some symmetry there.
Equally surprising is the the date in which Veteran’s Day is observed. November 11th was chosen due to the Armistice being signed on that date in WWI, which by the way, it remains Armistice Day in other countries for that reason. Oh, and in case you ever wondered why such organizations as the American Legion sell paper red poppies to raise money, there’s an interesting reason for that, as well. Red poppies were seen blooming on the hills of the Western Front amid the carnage following the armistice of WWI. For some reason I take comfort in that symbolism of life among the dead, instead of selling toy guns or something.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Lee Marvin was interviewed by Leatherneck Magazine about a year before his death making it one of the last ones he ever gave to a periodical. I cam across it during my early research for Lee Marvin Point Blank and found it both insightful and humorous. Unfortunately, upon further research, I discovered some of the facts to be incorrect (Monte Marvin came out of WWII with a Sergeant’s rank, not a captain), making it hard to use anything in it other than Lee Marvin’s quotes. In the long run, that worked out best as it helped me decide to write the chapter on Lee’s time in the USMC strictly in his own words from letters he wrote home during the war. It became one of my favorite exclusives to the book, if you haven’t read it.
So, without further adieu, I give you Lee Marvin speaking freely to Leatherneck. Enjoy and have a good Veteran’s Day!
– Dwayne Epstein

Page 1 of Leatherneck Magazine’s July 1986 interview with Lee Marvin.

Page 2 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 3 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 4 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 5 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 6 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

 

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ADVENTURES IN AUTHORING: ANSWERING NEGATIVE CRITICISM

A while back I was having dinner with my publisher, Tim Schaffner, when the subject of negative criticism of Lee Marvin Point Blank came up.
Don’t get me wrong, the overwhelming majority of reviews of the book have been largely positive and for that I am eternally grateful.

Paperback back cover of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK (designed by Jake Kiehle) highlighting some of the reviews.

However, the handful of negative criticism still stick in one’s craw. I can chuckle at it now but at the time, you can’t imagine how frustrating it is to be pummeled over something the critic claims authority over, yet in reality, knows nothing about….and then blames me!
What had bothered Tim was a review that not only raked the book over the coals, but also tore into what the reviewer thought was the awful editing of the book. Why did that bother Tim so much? He just happened to have been the editor! I told him I had read some other negatives too, but he emphasized to me in no uncertain terms that no matter how tempting it is: DO NOT RESPOND IN KIND. His point being that iit gives them a platform, brings you down to their level, and might even effect sales negatively in the long run if the review is believed.
He was right of course, but seeing as how this is my blog, to help support and supplement my book, run for cover if you are so inclined as I’m-a gonna fire back, once and for all. As James Dean said to Rock Hudson in Giant: “And there ain’t a dang thing you can do about it!”
Okay, Since I had told Tim I wouldn’t respond in kind, and to keep myself as honest as possible, I’ll just focus on two such reviews and I won’t be citing the source of the criticism. I’ll merely quote the inane comment anonymously and then show how frustratingly wrong they can be. Ready? I’ll start with the one that pissed off Tim so much. Here goes….

… Dwayne Epstein’s Lee Marvin: Point Blank isn’t anything close to definitive. A sloppily edited assemblage of interviews, it’s first-draft oral history in which readers with considerable patience can find Epstein issues several medical diagnoses derived from his own conclusions….Marvin fans who can get through all the throat-clearing tedium will find similar quotable bits in these underedited pages.

Heh, heh. Can you see why Tim, the book, editor got so pissed? No proof to back up their claim, no alternative response, not even an example of my ‘throat-clearing tedium,’ other than one sentence in which the quote is taken completely out of context. I hope the idiotic reviewer got paid well for his online rant because he may have kept a lot of well-meaning movie geeks from reading my book and discovering Lee Marvin for themselves. Sadly, it’s their loss.
And now, my personal favorite. There’s the one from a respected and long-in-the-tooth film journal that went to town on my facts. Strange scenario involved as well because the reviewer sent me the review and apologized as it was a last minute assignment for him, thus hinting that he may not have read the whole thing. Like a bonehead, I thanked him for his effort without reading the review first. Still kicking myself over that one. Here’s part of what bugged me….

Epstein does tell of Marvin—during the filming of Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One (1980), his last great role—taking the stage at a Roman-built amphitheater in Israel to recite a soliloquy from King Lear. That event is as surprising to the reader as it must have been to Marvin’s costars, as there’s no other mention in the book of Marvin having an affinity or aptitude for William Shakespeare or classical drama.

Hmm, do you think he may have missed the section in which Lee studied the classics at the American Theatre Wing (ATW)? Possibly. Then again, he probably also missed this image in the photo section (laid out by graphic artist Jake Kiehle), as well…..

Lee Marvin in LM:PB’s photo section shown in Shakespearean garb while attending the ATW.

I swear to you folks, try as you might, you just can’t make these things up!
Okay, enough ranting. Don’t go by my word as to the book’s value. Certainly don’t go by the word of an online movie geek or pompous film journalist, either. By all means, judge for yourself. Read the book. Find out about Lee Marvin. Rent or download some of his films. Then, do something revolutionary these days: make up your OWN mind.
– Dwayne Epstein

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OTHER SOURCES: JAMES GARNER ON LEE MARVIN

James Garner wrote about Lee Marvin in his 2011 memoir The Garner Files.  Since they never worked together, I never thought to use it as a source for Lee Marvin: Point Blank. However, once I read Garner’s book, I figure his take on Marvin deserves to be recounted here.

The cover of James Garner’s 2011 memoir, THE GARNER FILES.

It’s interesting to note that the TV & movie star belies his easy going charm as his experiences but mostly his point of view are both anything but easygoing. A better word to describe what he writes would be curmudgeonly. Not surprisingly, his cowriter, Jon Winokur, is the author of The Portable Curmudgeon. I get the feeling that Garner sought Winokur out based most likely on that fact. Don’t get me wrong, the book is a great read, mostly for just that reason. His take on his life, work, costars, the culture and society-at-large is a lot of fun. Brett Maverick or Jim Rockford he is not. Well, maybe a little. One minor correction to his comments below. To make his point, he states Lee Marvin’s salary went up to a million dollars a picture after Cat Ballou and he worked less because of it. Not true. Marvin first got a million for Paint Your Wagon and as most fans know he worked a lot after his Oscar winning role. Well, Garner certainly has a right to his opinion and I am a fan of some of his work. It’s just that the facts don’t support his point of view. No matter.
As to his main point about Marvin, of that, I guess he should be taken on his word as others have recounted similar encounters as stated in my book….

“In Hollywood you have to ‘defend you quote’ — keep your fee as high as possible and never accept less. Lee Marvin raised his quote to a million dollars a picture after he won an Oscar for Cat Ballou and had trouble getting parts.
“I never worked with Lee, but I thought that as an actor he was very colorful. As a guy, he was a pain in the ass. He just didn’t care. He was a and drinker. One night in a limousine on our way to a function, he made moves on my wife. That’s a little more than I can handle  and almost decked him.

Garner and his wife, Lois, probably around the time Garner wrote about his encounter with Lee Marvin.

“Anyway, Lee wanted to work but couldn’t take a salary cut. I didn’t want to fall into that trap, so I never let my quote get too high. Actors are paid more than they’re worth anyway.  Producers are idiots for paying the ridiculous prices we ask. We make so much money, the majority of pictures never make a profit. I think movies would be a lot better if more actors waived heir big salaries in order to do worthwhile pictures.
“I don’t think actors today are well served by their agents and managers, who aren’t as good as they used to be. They just want their 10 percent and let their clients do things they shouldn’t. They have one hit and three flops and their careers are over.”

Lee Marvin approximately around the time James Garner knew him.

Oh and for what it’s worth, Garner didn’t like Charles Bronson, either.
– Dwayne Epstein

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