Abbie Hoffman may not be that well known to a lot of people but he’s always been a personal hero of mine. He was by definition a social activist probably best known for his work organizing anti-war protests during the Vietnam War era. Truth is, he was much more than that. He was an amazing man involved in many different social causes: civil rights, the environment, the Women’s Movement, you name it, and he did it all with a terrific sense of humor.

Abbot ‘Abbie’ Hoffman, as he looked in his prime.

Now with that in mind, one would not think that Abbie Hoffman would be a proper subject for a blog dedicated to Lee Marvin and my book Lee Marvin Point Blank.  Truth be told, I like to think of this blog as that and other subjects of interest, especially when it concerns the lives of interesting and/or unsung individuals. Enter Abbie Hoffman.

Abbie Hoffman’s memoir, SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.

Having watched the Aaron Sorkin film The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), recently, I decided to reread Abbie’s autobiography, since it’s always been one of my favorite books as mentioned previously. Glad I did as it is just as great a read as I remember. I could go on about what makes it so wonderful, or even pontificate more on Abbie’s achievements. Instead, read the excerpt below and you’ll see what I mean:

“Radio needed another frame of mind. I studied how it was different, always preferred it to TV, and felt I was better on the radio because the listener couldn’t see what was going on and respond to certain visual images I had to create. One night I was being interviewed by a hostile host live on New York radio station WNEW. I picked up my host’s pack of cigarettes and said, ‘Can I have a cigarette?’
‘Sure, help yourself.,’ he said, and I took one and dragged on it slurpily. ‘Hey, this is really good stuff here, man,’ I said, imitating the stereotypical stoned musician. The host got all flustered and announced, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, he’s just smoking a plain Marlboro cigarette…Tell them that — tell them it’s just a cigarette, man.’ I agreed then apologized profusely. ‘Oh my god, ah shouldna done it…I’m sorry I don’t wanna blow your gig. So cool, though, man, disguisin’ a cigarette.’ There was no way the host could get out of the little trap with just words. He completely lost his composure, but he had me back.

My bookmark, acquired at the memorial tribute to Hoffman in 1989.

On another talk show, I got a call-in death threat. I said over the air that I’d be leaving the studio at 5 o’clock and went on to describe myself, only using the appearance of the host. ‘I got horn-rimmed glasses and a brown and white-checkered sports jacket.’ Most of the time I’d talk about the war or other social issues, using humor as a hook.  I would use the opportunities to advertise upcoming demonstrations. It was free space and effective. … people actually talked on radio. Now it seems like everyone, disc jockeys, broadcasters, newsmen, are all hopping on the same monotonous beat. One-two-three. One-two-three.”

(L-R) Jack Hoffman talks about his brother Abbie to famed lawyer William Kunstler at the 1989 Memorial tribute. Abbie & Jack’s mother is partially seen on the far right. Candid photo taken by yours truly.

Ya gotta love Abbie! Seriously, how inventive and funny was he when it came to such things? I only wish he was still around as we could sure use his perspective now….maybe more than ever.
– Dwayne Epstein

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WORKS OF NON-FICTION, unlike choosing favorite fiction, is a much tougher category for yours truly. Being an avid reader, I’ve chosen to read more non-fiction throughout my life than fiction, making the effort to choose a favorite as difficult as choosing a favorite offspring.

Granted, the specific realm of choice for me leans more towards works involving film and film history, rather than other subjects of non-fiction. For instance, I’ve never been much of fan of ‘true-crime’ or some other such tawdry genres but I do have an affinity for biography beyond film, such as politics and the like. But, since I made the rule for myself, I stuck (pretty much) to a singular subject, for better or for worse. Besides, even if I included other subject matter, it would be just as difficult for me to choose or narrow down. Maybe I should have just titled this work of movie non-fiction? Nah, I like this the way it is, with some of the exceptions I included.
So, below is my list of top ten favorite works of non-fiction in no particular order of preference. See any you might agree with?

  • Dwayne Epstein

    10. LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK by Dwayne Epstein….Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


    9. THE SIXTIES massive trade paperback (11×15) published by Rolling Stone with various authors.

    8. PAPILLON by Henri Charriere. Yeah, my well-read copy scanned above.


    6. CLOSE-UPS: THE MOVIE STAR BOOK edited by Danny Peary.


    4. MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS by Errol Flynn.

    3. DINO: LIVING HIGH IN THE DIRTY BUSINESS OF DREAMS by Nick Tosches. Despite the subject, this remains the single best bio I’ve ever read.

    2. SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE by Abbie Hoffman.

    CAGNEY BY CAGNEY….nuff said.


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