WHO COULD DIRECT A LEE MARVIN BIOPIC? PART II

I had some interesting suggestions from Part I of this blog that not only took me by surprise, but impressed me with how knowledgeable some film fans are when it comes to contemporary directors. Some were posted in the comment section — where I prefer to see such suggestions — others were posted on social media.  One such example was Alejandro González Iñárritu, of Birdman and Revenant fame. As Facebook friend Michael Knight put it, “He can handle suffering, internal demons, get a real performance out of whoever the actor will be.” I had not thought of him but he’s a fascinating prospect to consider, nontheless. The other choices on my list are below and I’m sure they’ll infuriate some as well come as no surprise to others. Your picks, ideas and suggestions may differ but they are certainly welcome…..

Jim McBride:

Director Jim McBride shown on set during the filming of 1987's THE BIG EASY.

Director Jim McBride shown on set during the filming of 1987’s THE BIG EASY.

Not as widely known or lauded as some other directors, I happen to think he’s one of the best and has been sadly neglected for too long. If you don’t believe me just rent or watch some of his work, such as his remake of Breathless in which Richard Gere has NEVER been better. Then there’s his films with Dennis Quaid, both The Big Easy, and the amazing style exhibited in his bizarre Jerry Lee Lewis biopic, Great Balls of Fire. McBride has a terrific rock & roll sensibility in these films but can also ratchet up the tension when he has to do it. I don’t know if he’d even be interested in such a project but I for one would love it if he was!

Robert Rodriguez:

Robert Rodriguez is no longer a Rebel Without a Crew, as he titled his autobiography, but a a multi-talented filmmaker and musician who recently launched his own cable network, El Rey!

Robert Rodriguez is no longer a Rebel Without a Crew, as he titled his autobiography, but a a multi-talented filmmaker and musician who recently launched his own cable network, El Rey!

He may seem an odd choice on the surface but after recently watching Desperado again, as well as El Mariachi and even Once Upon a Time in Mexico (can you tell I’m a fan?) I think he would be a wonderful choice. As pretty much every director on this list is proof of, Rodriguez has his own visual style and is a visionary of sorts when it comes to storytelling technique. They themselves may say otherwise, but the best directors never just tell their tale straight out. Whether through flashbacks, circular narratives, camera tricks, or what-have-you, great directors have a picture in their head they plan to see put on screen that they hope the audience will connect with and ultimately appreciate, especially on a visceral level. There may be no better example of that than Rodriguez. Granted, his quirky subject matter and personal background may not seem suitable to a Lee Marvin biopic, but then again, neither did John Ford’s. After all, what right does a a first generation Irish, New Hampshire sailor, have making the greatest westerns of all time? Put that way, I think Rodriguez would be perfect.

Martin Scorsese:

Of the great Martin Scorsese, Lee Marvin told an interviewer in the 80s, that he instructed his wife that if Scorsese ever calls, tell him he's not home because he'll be hiding under the bed. Wonder if Scorsese ever did....

Of the great Martin Scorsese, Lee Marvin told an interviewer in the 80s, that he instructed his wife that if Scorsese ever calls, tell him he’s not home because he’ll be hiding under the bed. Wonder if Scorsese ever did….

A New Yok raised Italian, famed for making the greatest gangster films of all-time, making a film about the life and times of Lee Marvin? Seems as odd a choice on first blush as Robert Rodriguez . However, to his credit, Scorsese is not only the greatest living director in any country (my opinion, of course) he has also been an unabashed Lee Marvin fan from the onset of his film career in the late 1960s. That enthusiasm has infused the best of his films and he puts that on display in his directorial debut Who’s That Knocking on My Door and later, in his breakthrough film, Mean Streets. Ever noticed the poster in the lobby of the movie theater the main characters go see? It’s Point Blank. And the quick clip from The Big Heat at the end of the film solidifies it. As for the reference to Marvin in Scorsese’s first film, readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank need only check out the last chapter of the book to be blown away by Scorsese’s heartfelt admiration. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to Scorsese, enthusiasm goes a long way. Besides, being  such a movie buff, it’s amazing to think he’s never directed a Hollywood biopic, or any film ABOUT Hollywood.  Well, not yet, anyway. Are you listening Marty?

Zack Snyder:

A very young looking 50-year-old Zack Snyder happily at work.

A very young looking 50-year-old Zack Snyder happily at work.

No on is more surprised to see Snyder’s name on this list than I am. Especially true in lieu of the fact that I constantly rail against the  blockbuster comic book movie epidemic. Snyder, as producer and/or director, has been and will be over the next few years, responsible (or to blame) for the film versions of my favorite DC characters from childhood. Reason enough to hate him, of course, excpet for one redeeming project that puts him on this list. Back in the 80s, I briefly resurrected my fervor for comic books due mostly to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and Gibbons & Moore’s The Watchmen. The film stealing the title Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, bore no resemblance to Miller’s opus. The Watchmen, however, was a different story. Not only was it surprisingly faithful to the source material (more so in fact than most film adaptions), it was a very well done and engrossing film with its own merits. I for one was more than pleasantly surprised. Even the opening was not only faithful (and amazingly brutual), for all of its onscreen fight scene wizardry, I could follow the events as they unfolded! The controversy surrounding Snyder’s recent efforts aside, I think he would be perfect candidate to take on the challenge of a Lee Marvin biopic. May have to start another franchise: Hollywood biopics, by the numbers.
I kid.

Steven Spielberg:

Guess who. Oh, and his Lee Marvin connection? Besides unsuccessfully begging him to costar in JAWS, his biggest flop film, 1941, included a small role for Marvin cohort Sam Fuller and a sleazy hollywood agent named..wait for it....Meyer Mishkin.

Guess who.
Oh, and his Lee Marvin connection? Besides unsuccessfully begging him to costar in JAWS, his biggest flop film, 1941, included a small role for Marvin cohort Sam Fuller and a sleazy hollywood agent named..wait for it….Meyer Mishkin.

Yeah, I know. He is the most successful filmmaker in history, and as I always said, became such on the backs of successful films made for 14 year old boys. If that sounded cheap and sleazy, then so be it. For most of my movie going life I not only was not a fan of his films I truly reviled him. Then an interesting metamorphis took place as he seemed to pass thru his late life puberty. He and his films discovered some late life adult themes. Beginning with The Color Purple, and coming into full flower with Schindler’s List, Spielberg miraculously got on an obvious soapbox of decrying man’s inhumanity to man, albeit, with blatant manipulations on full display. Seriously, was the curtian call of cast members and survivors really needed at the end of Schindler’s List? Was he that insecure in his ability to let the story speak for itself? Geez! Okay, I digressed a bit far from the subject. The point is, having spouted all that vitriol the obvious question becomes why is Spielberg on this list? Three little words changed the ball game for me:  Saving Private Ryan. In the immortal words of Stan Lee, “‘Nuff said!”

Quentin Tarantino:

Quentin Tarantino, quite possibly the most equally beloved and despised director working in films today.

Quentin Tarantino, quite possibly the most equally beloved and despised director working in films today.

If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve been leaning toward a certain kind of director when it comes to the idea of a Lee Marvin biopic. The director I speak of would be telling the tale from not only a certain persepective but an emphasis on a certain aspect of Marvin’s life.  Let me put it another way. I have been lucky enough to have my book praised by several highly respected people in the industry and two of the best writers working, in both film and television, have told me the same thing. They were both impressed with the book and told me individually that if a film were to be made of it, the most marketable aspect would be the palimony suit. They believe it’s what Marvin is most remebered for. I respect their opinion, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned he SHOULD be remembered for creating the modern American cinema of violence. Enter Quentin Tarantino. Love him or hate him — and there are many in both camps — he owes a sizeable debt to Marvin’s cinematic labors and what better way to pay it back then with a well-made Marvin biopic? After all, “I bet your a big Lee Marvin fan, aren’t you? Me too. I love that guy.”

Kathryn Bigelow:

Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar, a well-deserved win for THE HURT LOCKER (2010).

Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar, a well-deserved win for THE HURT LOCKER (2010).

And, to make it a baker’s Dirty Dozen, I include Ms. Bigelow. No, it’s not because she’s a woman and I’m pandering to tokenism. Far from it. Nor is it because she brilliantly directed such recent hits as The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Well, maybe that’s part of it. Okay, truth be told it’s a big part of it. She totally understands the mindset of the soldier in combat and much more importantly, as a filmmaker, she is able to convey that mindset to the audience. She does it without a soapbox or the  obvious condenscension one might expect. To put in the proper persective, when I was researching the effects of PTSD for my Lee Marvin bio, I came across an interview Bigelow did while promoting The Hurt Locker. In it, she made this statement: “War’s dirty little secret is that some men love it. I’m trying to unpack why, to look at what it means to be a hero in the context of 21st-century combat.” I was so impressed with that comment I temporarily named a pivotal chapter “A Dirty Little Secret” while the book was still being researched. In other words, she gets it, quite possibly even better than most, but she definitely gets it.  I think even Marvin himself would be impressed. After all, despite his bad ass screen image he had no problem being directed by a woman, in his case it was pioneering Actress/Director Ida Lupino.

Okay, all that said, I believe anyone kind enough to have taken the time to have read this blog entry, probably has their own opinon of a Lee Marvin biopic and who should direct it. If that’s the case, let me hear it. Enquiring minds want to know….

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One thought on “WHO COULD DIRECT A LEE MARVIN BIOPIC? PART II

  1. Of this second list ONLY Scorsese has the actual skills to pull it off….I wouldn’t trust a wet bowl of pasta in Zack Snyders hands as he has only directed ONE great film in his career, that being 300. Kate Bigelow, not so much either for she is more of a documnetarian type director. Tarantino is even WORSE than Snyder, and fully sniffs his own farts. DId ANYONE besides me sit thru the entire Hateful 8? It was a bad movie, witha a great score. Spielberg would never touch it due to the overall violence of the characters work, and he wouldn’t do it justice. I do not know enough about McBride to say anything other than I was unaware he was still alive….IDO like Robert Roduigez’s works……very ecclectic career, and he pretty much does it all on his own now……….THOUGH, I am unsure as to whether or not he’d have what it took for a Biopic as he has not done one before. ZERO green screen needed for it so……..tough call, but on this list ONLY Scorsese has what it itakes as THE AVIATOR is one of my favorite films of his since Goodfella’s, and is ALWAYS on my dvr……..yup!!

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