GORKY PARK: MARVIN’S LATTER DAY BRILLIANCE

Gorky Park (1983), director Michel Apted’s adaptation of the popular Martin Cruz Smith thriller, was not well-recieved when first released but it may be worthy of re-evaluation. There are several reasons I say this but the main reason, is of course, Lee Marvin’s performance.

Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne in Michael Apted’s GORKY PARK.

It was not only one of the actor’s last films, it would be the last time he would play a classic villain, as he had earlier in his career. I don’t want to give a spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the film (which I highly recommend) so simply the premise will suffice here. It’s a complicated ‘whodunit’ in which Soviet-era police detective Arkady Renko (William Hurt) is tasked with finding who is responsible for the three mutilated bodies found in Gorky Park. There are several suspects and among them is shady American businessman, Jack Osborne (Marvin). To Marvin’s credit, as good as he looks in uniform, he looks even more impressive in the dapper expensive suits his character wears.  Watch the way he carries himself, as well. The brilliance mentioned are the touches the actor adds that are clearly not in the script. Dressing after a day at the sauna, he uses the back of his index fingers to straighten his collar and expensive tie he admires in the mirror. Then there’s the way he dallies the cat-and-mouse dialog with adversarial Hurt.

(L-R) Lee Marvin as Jack Osborne, William Hurt as Russian police detective Arkady Renko and Ian Bannen as Renko’s superior.

I genuinely believe it’s one of Marvin’s best performances that creates a through line of sorts to his career. Think of Paul Newman as the idealistic lawyer Anthony Lawrence of The Young Philadelphians (1959), and then the tragic alcoholic Frank Galvin of The Verdict (1982). There are other such examples to be made but I like to think that in Jack Osborne’s wilder youth he was not unlike the dapper yet violent Vince Stone of The Big Heat (1953). See Gorky Park and judge for yourself, of course.
As for the film, I was fortunate enough to interview British director Michael Apted for Lee Marvin Point Blank and his insights as to the films success and/or failure is on the money, as well as the fascinating anecdotes about its production. So check it out again wherever possible and give Lee Marvin’s performance a second look. I think you’ll pleasantly surprised.
– Dwayne Epstein

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CYBER MONDAY? LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK!

Cyber Monday is December 2nd and in the spirit of such blatant internet promotion allow me to join the passing parade of shameless self-indulgence with the inclusion of Lee Marvin Point Blank. Yeah, I know the book came out more than six years ago, but it is still very much in print, in demand, and worthy of discovery by those who have yet to purchase it. Why is that you ask? Well, for one thing, as my publisher pointed out, it’s a perennial, not bound by fads or current events that fade in short order. For another, it’s available in several formats, each with its own appeal.

Released January, 2013, the above image is from the hardcover edition of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK, still very much available.

 

First up is the hardcover. It remains the first definitive account of the life, work and legacy of one of the most important actors of the second half of the twentieth century. I spent nearly 20 years researching it and the result is 100 exclusive interviews of friends, family and co-workers, many rare never-before-seen photos, letters recounting his harrowing time in WWII and much, much more.  Within a year, the book was also anointed with several awards, such as winning the Bronze in Biography from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (“Ippy”) and being a finalist in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards. Not bad for a first-time author, right?

 

 

 

Not long after the release of the hardcover, the Kindle became available via Amazon and the result was quite surprising. An enterprising publicist at the distributor, IPG (Independent Publishing Group), hustled the hell out of the e-book which ultimately made the top five on the coveted  New York Times Bestseller List, as well as the Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

One of the Kindle’s opening images, which was a NY Times best seller.

The following year, my publisher, Tim Schaffner of Schaffner Press, decided to up the ante with the publication of the paperback. He requested that I add some new material to the project….

Paperback cover with sunburst declaration of added material, as well as the medallion sticker awarding the Bronze in Biography.

Table of Contents listing the added data compiled by yours truly for the paperback version.

I was of course pleasantly surprised not only by how well it turned out but also by the addition of several pages consisting of positive feedback from prominent individuals, such as fellow biographers Marshall Terrill (STEVE MCQUEEN: PORTRAIT OF A REBEL), Bill Krohn (HITCHCOCK AT WORK), Stefan Kanfer ( BOGART: TOUGH WITHOUT A GUN), Frank Thompson (NOTHING SACRED: THE CINEMA OF WILLIAM WELLMAN) and others.  Who could ask for more? Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
So, there you have it. My pitch to put LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK on your Cyber Monday holiday shopping list. I realize that regular readers of this blog, (if there are any) may have read this all before but since the key to good promotion is “Tell them what you know, tell them again and then tell them what you told them,” I leave it to one and all to make up their own minds….so what are you waiting for? Do you part for Cyber Monday and get your copy now.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
– Dwayne Epstein

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INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS: ADAM SANDLER’S BACK!

Independent Spirit Awards announced this year’s nominations and apparently one of the top contenders for Best Actor is none other than…..Adam Sandler! You can read the list of nominees here, as well as some background info on the award itself and the prerequisite for nominations.

Apparently, Sandler’s performance in the film Uncut Gems is impressing and surprising all who witness it. Truth be told, I haven’t seen it (yet) and didn’t even know of it’s existence until I read the article. I read about the film some more online and found the premise quite intriguing and look forward to seeing it. Sandler plays a desperate jeweler who has to figure out how to pay off his massive gambling debt before it’s too late. Check out the trailer as it’s pretty impressive:

Why does an indie film starring Adam Sandler rate mention in this blog dedicate mostly to the life, work and legacy of Lee Marvin? via my book, Lee Marvin Point Blank? I’ll give you a hint….

The cover of my first young adult biography for the People in The News Series.

Sandler’s nomination in the Independent Spirit Awards derby allows me an opportunity to do something I rarely get to do and we all wish that we could. That would be being able to be proven right about something several years down the road as I wrote the book in 2004.
Okay, maybe that’s a little strong but when the rest of pop culture and modern film community called Sandler an annoying untalented hack who’s career would be short-lived, I was able to champion his cause, especially after viewing his performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love.

Sidebars were required for the series so here’s one I thought fit the subject.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Sandler cheerleader. In fact his extremely popular comedies of the 1990s had me asking the managing editor for hazard pay after viewing all those films. Her response to my request, by the way, was to tell me I should feel lucky, as they we’re going to ask me to write about Jackass! 
Anyway, here’s the section I wrote about Punch Drunk Love. Read, enjoy, dislike, whatever. It just maybe challenge you to rethink your dislike of Sandler one more time….
– Dwayne Epstein

Opening section in the chapter dealing with Punch Drunk Love.

Punch Drunk Love continued.

 

Punch Drunk Love section with photo (!)

….And in conclusion.

 

 

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