ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD….THERE WAS ALSO LEE MARVIN

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the latest opus from favorite contemporary filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino, was anxiously awaited by yours truly like a kid awaits the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. Seriously. Everything I had read and seen about it had me practically drooling in anticipation. Then I watched it.

(L-R) Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth and Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton leaning against the facade of Hollywood’s famed Egyptian Theater.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad picture, at all. It’s just that I guess my anticipation of it, had me expecting  more.
There’s also much to recommend. My family and I moved to California from New York in 1968 so I’m familiar with what the southern California scene of 1969 was like in those days. Tarantino’s re-creation of that time and place is something to marvel at throughout the film. Whether it’s the bus benches advertising Hobo Kelly, or the brief TV moment showing late night L.A. horror host Seymour, it brought back nostalgic childhood memories for yours truly.
Most of the performances in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood are also uniformly excellent. A true standout is Brad Pitt as the laconic stunt double and gopher to Leonardo DiCaprio’s fading TV star.
I say ‘most’ performances as some of them are downright strange. The film is peppered with cameos of real-life individuals and some are just strange. An actor playing Bruce Lee challenges Pitt to a fight in one of my favorite scenes and one of the most controversial in its portrayal of the legendary martial artist.
In another sequence, British Actor Damian Lewis makes a brief appearance as Steve McQueen at a party at the Playboy Mansion in a performance that can best be described as bizarre. While there is a resemblance, in speaking with McQueen biographer Marshall Terrill, we both agreed that the speech pattern Lewis invokes is just plain weird. He may have been trying to mask his British accent but the result is nothing like McQueen. Bizarre.
So, what is it about the film that received a six minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Cannes Film festival that I have a problem saying that it’s truly great? Simply put, the main character played by DiCaprio is just not worthy of much sympathy and being the central focus of the film, it’s the key factor keeping me from loving the film. Hate to say it but it’s true.
I won’t give away any more as I hate when writers do that sort of thing. Suffice to say, I’ll probably see it on DVD, if only to see again my Lee Marvin Point Blank interview subject, Clu Gulager as an aging Westwood bookstore owner. Until then, I wonder why such a big Lee Marvin fan as Tarantino left Lee Marvin out of the film when he was big box office in 1969. How big?  Check out Lee Marvin Point Blank to find that out. In the mean time….
-Dwayne Epstein

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LEE MARVIN HIGH SCHOOL? NOT LIKELY THESE DAYS!

The idea of a Lee Marvin High School, or any other institution, may seem as likely as the Joan Crawford Day Care Center or perhaps the Stanley Kowalski School of Etiquette. The reason being is that in today’s cultural, social and political climate, political correctness has run amok, unfortunately.
An example of such ridiculous behavior was in the news recently. Virginia’s Bowling Green University had the name of Lillian Gish and her sister Dorothy removed from the school’s campus theater. A petition was passed around by the students to have the action taken and despite an outcry from the mainstream creative community –the likes of James Earl Jones, Martin Scorsese and more — the action was taken. Ms. Gish’s offense? She starred in D.W. Griffith’s 1915 racist cinematic opus, Birth of a Nation. Never mind the copius amount of money she and her sister had donated to the school over the years or her amazing contribution to film and theater in general. The dictates of political correctness reigned supreme here. The entire sad series of events can be read here.
Ironically, when Spike Lee accepted the school’s Gish Prize in 2013, he said, “Would you believe, two of the most important films that impacted me while I was studying at NYU starred Miss Lillian Gish. Those films were D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter. Isn’t it funny (sometimes) how life works? And how ironic life can be? God can be a trickster. Peace and love to the Gish Sisters. . . .”
It is with that in mind I conclude that in the current climate of political correctness, the possibility of a school or institution named for Lee Marvin seems remote at best. It did almost happen, though, while he was still alive….

An image from Donald Zec’s bio on Lee Marvin in which the actor admires St. Leo’s recently named dormitory in his honor.

The honor bestowed upon the school’s famous alumni was sadly short-lived, however. The reason most people think his named was removed was of course, incorrect, as well as the fact that he was NOT kicked out of school before graduating. That controversy was explained by the school’s archivist in a previous blog entry.

Teenaged Lee Marvin in full uniform when he briefly attended the political incorrectly named David Farragut Naval Academy in Toms River, NJ.

No, Marvin might have to wait a long time before seeing his named carved on the hallowed halls of some great institution. His own persona and famous ways aside (chronicled in depth in Lee Marvin Point Blank), there would be another reason why. In these insane times of political correctness, it could easily be discovered: He and his brother were proudly named after a distant relative on his Virginia born mother’s side: losing Confederate general, Robert E. Lee.
– Dwayne Epstein

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SEANA KOFOED: INTERVIEWED FOR EMMY.COM

Seana Kofoed was the subject of my latest piece for Emmy.com which was posted on the website almost the same day as my birthday. How cool is that, right? I truly love the assignments I get for Emmy.com as it allows me the chance to meet some fascinating people and help others as well as myself discover some phenomenal contemporary projects. So far, that’s meant interviewing the likes of Nick Rutherford, Vella Lovell and permission to write about Lee Marvin’s TV career based on my Lee Marvin Point Blank research that I called LEE TV.
Interviewing Seanna Kofoed was something even more special. Like Lee, she is a veteran character actor with remarkable credits and training to give superb performances whenever called upon to do so. Space constraint for the article didn’t allow me to get into her background but, as Wikipedia states:
“Kofoed was raised in the Chicago area and attended New Trier High School, Northwestern University and the Royal National Theatre in London. She began her stage career in Chicago, appearing in productions at the Goodman Theatre, the Court Theatre and the Victory Gardens Theater, before moving to New York City. In New York, Kofoed was best known for productions on and off Broadway. Her Broadway credits include Proof with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Night Must Fall with Matthew Broderick. Off Broadway credits include several productions at Manhattan Theatre Club, the Atlantic Theatre Company, and Manhattan Class Company, in addition to experiences in Glimmer, Glimmer, and Shine with the late John Spencer and An Experiment with an Air Pump, for which she received a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Kofoed soon made the transition to on-camera acting, making an appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and lending her voice to a small role in the movie Shark Tale. In 2006, she was cast in the hit dramedy Men in Trees, playing the lead character Marin’s (Anne Heche) editor and best friend, Jane. In 2018, Kofoed was cast as a series regular on Lifetime’s American Princess.”

From her Facebook page comes this image of Seana’s character Maggie Chaney regally portraying Ren Faire’s Queen Elizabeth.

 

 

 

Three of Seana’s Ren Faire subjects cavort in a Shakespearean comedy in which…no, wait! That’s Lee Marvin on the far right at the American Theater Wing!

The purpose of the interview was to promote her role on the Lifetime series, American Princess. When it turned out that the interview could only be posted after her show’s initial lifespan ended, I asked her if that would be a problem. Her response: “In fact, possibly of extra value because betwixt us…It looks like A&E is actively talking to possible new homes for the show. So any love the show gets in this moment, is a huge help! The timing could be perfect. Either way, yay, and thank you so very very much, can’t wait to read/share, etc!”
Is this a nice lady or what? So, without further ado, my interview with this terrific actress in all its glory. Ladies & gentlemen, Seana Kofoed. Hope A&E picks up American Princess because believe it or not, I liked it!
– Dwayne Epstein

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