LEE MARVIN AND ANNE BANCROFT: A FORGOTTEN OSCAR MOMENT

Lee Marvin and Anne Bancroft may not be on anyone’s list of great Oscar moments but with the Academy Awards on tonight, I thought it a good time to point out that maybe, just maybe, it WAS a great moment.
The two actors had worked together several times during the studio contract days (The Raid, Gorilla at Large, A Life in the Balance) but had very few if any scenes together. That aside, according to Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin in her autobiography, Tales of a Hollywood Housewife, the two actors actually had a rather torrid affair at one point. It’s not a well-known fact, nor is it something I chose to mention in my book, Lee Marvin Point Blank. The main reason was my inability to interview Ms. Bancroft about the films she made with Marvin, although I did come close to interviewing her husband, Mel Brooks for Filmfax. However, that, as they say, is another story.
Luckily, I did get Betty Marvin to tell me an even more amazing story about the night Lee did win his Oscar that can only be found exclusively in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank and must be read to be believed.

This screen grab from the video begs the question, what exactly is Lee Marvin whispering in Anne Bancroft’s ear? The world may never know.

Back to the Oscars on that particular night many years ago. It is a tradition that the previous year’s winner for Best Actor present the Award for Best Actress the following year and vice-versa. Having won for Cat Ballou the year before, a very dapper Lee Marvin was called upon to present the Oscar for Best Actress, or as he said, “These girls.” When he announced the winner as Elizabeth Taylor for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, I doubt that he knew she had sent Anne Bancroft to accept in her place.

The way Anne Bancroft looks at Lee Marvin as she approaches the podium says volumes.

Perhaps he did know but either way, there appears to be a certain level of familiarity, almost intimacy between the two stars, or maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

The dapper couple leaving the stage to appreciative applause.

Okay, maybe it would be best to simply view the video moment so you can judge for yourself. Thoughts would be appreciated. Either way, enjoy the Oscars and all the best,
Dwayne Epstein

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AWARD SEASON THEN & NOW

Award season is upon us and the majors have already begun with the Golden Globe Awards. Oscar nominations came out earlier this week and the the other guild and critic awards are looming large. Much has changed from the days when Lee Marvin won his only Oscar for Cat Ballou back in the mid-60s.

Lee Marvin backstage after winning his Oscar.

For one thing, the amount of competing awards could be counted on one hand. There wasn’t much beyond the Oscars and Golden Globes. The plethora of guilds and critics organizations had yet to boast of award shows that would ultimately make the Oscars anti-climatic as there are now, with or without a wisecracking host. Matter of fact, when Marvin won his Oscar, he was as surprised as anybody since the odds-on favorite was Rod Steiger for his work in The Pawnbroker. The entire episode of Marvin’s win is covered extensively, of course, in Lee Marvin Point Blank, including some nefarious behind-the-scenes machinations that even Marvin himself was not aware of.

Julie Andrews and Lee Marvin accepting their Golden Globes for being the most popular stars of 1967, which is no longer a category.

What got me thinking about these differences in the award season of days gone by and the ones of today, is an article I read online in which an Academy member bemoans the advent of streamers, screeners, and the like and the effect it has on the season itself. It can be read here but the point is laughable. Bottom line is just that there are too damn many awards shows! Want proof? I’m going to go out on limb and make my own predictions of this year’s Oscar winners as shown below. Feel free to check back after the show to see how right I was. There are:

Best Picture: 1917.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker.
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger for Judy.
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern for Marriage Story.

What’s my criteria? They’ve already won every other award leading up to the Oscars. Talk about anti-climatic! Somewhere Lee Marvin is laughing his war-wounded ass off.
– Dwayne Epstein

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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: DENZEL WASHINGTON & THE OSCAR CONTROVERSY

The recent controversy surrounding this year’s Oscar nominations lack of color got me to thinking about another of my older writing assignments. I didn’t take to the assignment right away, but once I got into the research of the subject, I certainly did.
Denzel Washington’s career, in my opinion, is one of the most fascinating in film history. Successes and failures abound, like all leading actors, but the work itself is an amazing exploration of our changing times. His body of work recently earned The Golden Globes’ prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award (are you listening American FIlm Institute?) and in watching his highlight reel, I was once again struck by how impressive his films were and still are.
Beleive it or not, writing about his life and work for Lucent Books’ People in the News Series helped me immeasurably when it came to actually writing LEE MARVIN : POINT BLANK. How did it help? It made me more fully aware that one of the most important aspects of an actor’s work that lives on long after the actor, is a theme or themes that permeates the work for audiences decades to come. It was certainly true in Lee Marvin’s case as it is Denzel Washington’s. Long live the truly great actors!
As to the Oscar controversy, while I often agree with the concept of boycotts, I think boycotting such an award show is self-defeating. Do the organizers really think such a move will result in future nominations for people of color? Seems doubtful. Lots of heat with very little light. If they really want to see more Oscar diversity, they should take it upon themselves to make better films with actors of color in which the character’s color, really doesn’t matter. In other words, take a tip from the films of two-time Academy Award winner, Denzel Washington, especially in the section on how Spike Lee was able to complete Malcolm X. It’s called putting words into action…..

The cover of my 2010 People in the News young adult biography on Denzel Washington.

The cover of my 2010 People in the News young adult biography on Denzel Washington.

The book's Table of Contents, in which the need for clever titles and several bibliographies, also helped in my writing of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

The book’s Table of Contents, in which the need for clever titles and several bibliographies, also helped in my writing of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

The introduction taught me to write the intro last as you never know where the research will take you. Oh, and by the way, he did go back to school and the lady with the vision, was a church elder.

The introduction taught me to write the intro last, as you never know where the research will take you. Oh, and by the way, he did go back to school and the lady with the vision, was a church elder.

Two sidebars per chapter are a requirement for each title so it allowed me to delve into The Boys & Girls Club of America's interesting history. Opposite page shows Denzel in front of a photo of himself as a youngster as he himself is surrounded by current Club members.

Two sidebars per chapter are a requirement for each title so it allowed me to delve into The Boys & Girls Club of America’s interesting history. Opposite page shows Denzel in front of a photo of himself as a youngster as he himself is surrounded by current Club members.

Denzel Washingtons performance in MALCOLM X, alog with TRAINING DAY remain two of all time favorites and writing about them is one of the joys of what I do for a living.

Denzel Washington’s performance in MALCOLM X, along with TRAINING DAY, remain two of my all time favorites and writing about them is one of the joys of what I do for a living.

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