LEE MARVIN BIOPIC CAST PART II: BIOPIC FAMILY

Because Lee Marvin Point Blank proved to be as successful as I hoped it would be, a film adaptation seems plausible, so, to continue that line of thinking from the previous blog entry, how about considering the biopic family casting? Lee Marvin’s parents, brother, costars and friends were an integral part of his life story and casting them would round out the biopic family nicely.

(L-R) Lee’s father Monte, mother Courtenay and Lee shortly after he finished USMC basic trying.

 

First up, his father Monte. Described in letters and first-hand accounts as being physically imposing (Lincoln-esque by one account), one friend of Lee’s who knew him said, “If someone went in a bar to give everyone shit, they’d walk a wide circle around Monte. Monte was pretty tough”

Actor J.K. Simmons

Several actors come to mind for the role, such as Tommy Lee Jones, this year’s Oscar winner Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, even Bruce Willis. The two most impressive to my mind would be either Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, or Lee’s Emperor of the North costar, Keith Carradine.

For the role of Lee’s mother, Courtenay Washington Davidge, certain specific characteristics are also most prominent. According to Lee’s first wife, Betty, Lee’s mother had a soft little voice with a Virginia accent that she used to subtley manipulate her husband and two sons. A veritable steel magnolia by way of Tennessee Williams, by some accounts. Reese Witherspoon, Kate Winslet and even Meryl Streep come to mind. Then again, Meryl Streep comes to mind for every role. Based on what I’ve heard and read about Mr.s Marvin, my personal choice would be Renee Zellweger.

Actress Renee Zellweger.

Rounding out the Marvin family cast is Lee’s older brother, Robert. I had the good fortune to get to know Robert towards the end this life and at that point in his life, I would describe  him as rather curmudgeonly, irascible and eventually, quite affable. What I learned about him was that as a younger man he was understandably quite jealous of his brother’s success. Only 18 months apart in age, the Marvin brothers were both close and distant with each other throughout their life times.

Robert visiting his brother in Tucson in the early 70s.

For that reason, I see the character of Robert Marvin as being portrayed by an actor who can elicit both laughs and sympathy, such as Will Ferrell, Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite), John C. Reilly and the like. My own personal choice would by Bill Hader, the SNL alumni who was a gifted mimic on the show, but more importantly the possessor of both funny bones and an as yet untapped dramatic talent.

SNL alumni and underrated actor, Bill Hader.

 

Another major supporting role might be several real-life individuals rolled into one. The reason has to do with an aspect of Lee Marvin’s persona I discovered in my research. Early on, Marvin learned that if he’s going to get in trouble for some of his nefarious escapades, it’s always better to do it with a partner to take part of the heat for whatever transpires. Whether riding his motorcycle through the Beverly Hills BMW showroom with Keenan Wynn, wreaking havoc upon the ‘Vegas Vic’ sign while filming The Professionals with Woody Strode, causing a barroom brawl over a game of darts in London with Bob Phillips while filming The Dirty Dozen, or creating the bizarre prank of ‘the vibrator salute’ with Tony Epper while filming Paint Your Wagon, the legendary exploits he indulged in always required a partner.

Woody Strode and Lee on the set of THE PROFESSIONALS.

 

Any number of contemporary actors could do it but if it were up to me, I’d like to see it be along the lines of someone more like Woody Strode. As he told me himself, “We were like brothers.” So, with than in mind, Dwayne Johnson would be a nice choice or, barring the monetary chances of that, some well-built, talented young up-and-coming actor would do nicely.

A Woody Strode Google search resulted in this young actor, France’s Eebra Toore popping up. Anybody know if he speaks English…without an accent?

And so, with lead role possibilities considered, possible directors in mind, and now supporting cast members short-listed, all that’s left is a wise producer willing to take a chance on a story that resonates like a cross between Mad Men and The Hurt Locker. Hey, just because Lee Marvin was famous doesn’t make a movie. A fascinating story is mandatory no matter who it’s about and Lee’s life, work, and influence more than covers all those bases. After all, what Hollywood faked, he did for real.  Any takers?
-Dwayne Epstein

 

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FOR MOTHER’S DAY: LEE AND HIS MOM, COURTENAY

 

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Courtenay Marvin with baby Lee and older son Robert

Lee Marvin, and his mother, Courtenay Washington Davidge Marvin, had a tumultuous relationship through the years, as related in greater depth in Lee Marvin Point Blank.  However, in honor of Mother’s Day, here are several rare images of Lee and his mother in happier times.
First, on the roof of the Marvins’ New York apartment, baby Lee sits on his mother’s lap while older brother Robert looks elsewhere….

Having moved to a newly built apartment complex in Queens called the Spanish Arms, Courtenay poses with her sons, who are in costume for a grade school pageant celebrating spring. Smiling Robert on the right is a scarecrow, while a less happy Lee is on the left as a green bean….

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Courtenay Marvin and sons in costume for Spring Pageant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, many years later, in postwar Woodstock, New York, Courtenay is far right with a drink and a cigarette. Between her and a relaxed Lee, is her son’s girlfriend at the time, actress Helen Wagner, who would go on to greater fame on the long running soap operas The Guiding Light and As the World Turns.

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Courtenay Marvin, Helen Wagner & Lee Marvin in Woodstock.

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HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY TO LEE MARVIN!

Happy Birthday Lee!

It was on this day, on February 19, 1924, that Lee Marvin came into the world in New York’s Booth Memorial Hospital, which still exists, by the way. His very existence (described in a flowery letter by his mother in Lee Marvin Point Blank) was a result of the union of Virginia’s Courtenay Washington Davidge and Elmira New York’s Lamont Waltham Marvin, seen below in their halycon dating days in the early 1920s (left) and then later during the Depression where they lived in Queens, New York (right)…
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On the rooftop of their Manhattan apartment, baby Lee is seen perched on a pillow with his mother, smiling his tongue-wagging smile even as an infant as he would do decades later as Liberty Valance….

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Because Lee’s father, Monte, worked for Kodak in the 1920s, the Marvins were one of the few families at the time able to take such images as shown below, as his parents trade places to pose with baby Lee and his older brother (by 18 months) Robert….
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Finally, the only known nude scene of Lee Marvin (right), shown here along with his brother, Robert (left), playing in the bucolic setting of Woodstock, New York. Beneath it is an image of curly-haired Lee as a toddler already assuming the stance and defiant curl of the lip he’d maintain in many film performances. Some things are just ingrained….

withbrother

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