Corey Lueck, Canadian blues veteran and frontman for The Smoke Wagon Blues Band is also a rather muscular Lee Marvin fan. I can also add that thanks to the miracle of social media, specifically Facebook, he is also a friend. It came about thru the good graces of Google allowing me to discover his band’s song, “The Ballad of Albert Johnson.”

Bronson & Marvin on the set of their last film together, DEATH HUNT.

The song is based on a the true story of the largest manhunt in Canadian history, which later proved to be the inspiration for the Lee Marvin/Charles Bronson film, Death Hunt (1981). Upon its release, Roger Ebert & Gene Siskel reviewed the film in an opinion I pretty much agree with to this day. What they liked about the film I agree with as well, making it still worthy of multiple viewings. Their review runs from the 7:30 to 11:45 mark and you can view it here.
As for Corey Lueck, he read my book and went on to tell me, “I was reading it at work and not getting much work done!” With that said, I asked him if he’d be willing to write a review of it on Amazon’s Canadian website. He wrote the following:

I can’t tell you how much I loved this book, my only gripe was that it was over too fast even though it’s not a short book! I feel like Lee Marvin was one of the pivotal “greatest generation” actors that just doesn’t get enough credit in the realm of movie stardom and cultural icons. From growing up to his time in World War 2 to his drunken on set episodes “Point Blank” has it all and doesn’t pull any punches. Dwayne elegantly and brilliantly lets the stories almost tell themselves in Lee Marvin’s own words in a truly timeless biography. By the time you’re done you’ll want to revisit Lees entire movie catalog.

The result of his review boosted sales in Canada as shown here:

Canadian sales numbers for paperback of Lee Marvin Point Blank thanks to Corey Lueck.

Can’t thank you enough, Corey for those encouraging words! By the way, Corey informed me that he and his bandmates won several awards for the song and title album of The Ballad of Albert Johnson at the Canadian Blues Society Awards.  It’s also up for several more awards at the Independent Blues Awards to be held in Atlanta, Georgia in the Fall. Voting is open until August 31st, so feel free to give the boys some love by doing so on their website.
In the mean time, feel free to check out the nominated video that is truly kick ass!
Also, anyone still not familiar with my book can always find Lee Marvin Point Blank on Amazon.
Until then, Keep kicking ass in the free world!
– Dwayne Epstein

Clockwise from the botom: Bandmate Ron Roll, with Summer Reid, Corey Lueck and unidentified. Ahh, the tough life of Bluesmen (!).

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Smoke Wagon Blues Band, a veteran Canadian blues band has a new album entitled “The Ballad of Albert Johnson,” and as the author of Lee Marvin Point Blank, I had to find out more about them. According to a quote from the band’s harmonica-playing lead singer, Corey Lueck:
“When I was a kid I saw the American movie about it (“Death Hunt”) with Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin. I thought it was a cool story and then when I found out it was a Canadian story, I read up on it even more. We wrote the song and then we ended up naming the whole album after it.” 
 The quote came from an online article I came across in which the the band’s 25 year history and influences are recounted in a lively piece that can be read here. Personally, I love the look and the sound of these guys and the band name is terrific. I highly recommend viewing the animated video made to accompany the song as it’s a pretty imaginative retelling of the story Marvin as Edgar Millen and Bronson as Johnson enacted. 

Lee Marvin as Edgar Millen in DEATH HUNT.

One of the rare times Lee Marvin played a real-life character on film was RCMP’s Edgar Millen in DEATH HUNT.

I had a little trouble understanding all the lyrics but after multiple viewings of the video I got into it and liked it a lot. If I could describe it in one word that word be one often used to described Marvin and Bronson themselves: KICK-ASS!
Who knew Canada had such a rocking blues/jazz scene going on? I certainly didn’t! 

That said, I wish the talented gentlemen of Smoke Wagon Blues Band all the luck in the world on the upcoming award show to take place on February 22nd. 

In the mean time, feel free check out the computer generated video they made for the album’s title track as animated by Patrick Politowski. I think it’s a hoot!
-Dwayne Epstein


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Charles Bronson & Lee Marvin.

Screen grab image from the 1981 interview with Charlie & Lee.

Charlie & Lee, as in Bronson & Marvin, worked together several times in their respective careers but I can’t recall ever seeing them interviewed together..that is until now. Apparently, a local news show out of Fort Worth, Texas on NBC 5 was lucky enough to capture them together back in 1981 as they promote Death Hunt. The interviewer was Bobbi Wygant and she did her homework enough to ask some fairly intelligent questions. Case in point, knowing that they both worked with such legends as Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy early in their careers (Lee in Bad Day At Black Rock with Tracy and Charlie in Pat & Mike as well as The People Against O’Hara), she knowingly asked them to compare the two legends. 
  Marvin was an old pro at such things as he often promoted his latest endeavors on talk shows. Bronson, on the other hand, hated being interviewed and it shows in the way he constantly fiddles with his microphone cord. It’s a shame really as he comes off as intelligent and insightful in his comments. 
Interestingly, the comments they both make about the location shooting of Death Hunt is in direct conflict to what costar Angie Dickinson told me in Lee Marvin Point Blank. She had talked to Lee about the beautiful locale and his daily response to her is definitely worth reading about. 
One other thing worth noting. Watch the entire clip below as you see Wygant do something after the interview that is akin to what William Hurt did in the movie Broadcast News (1987) that Albert Brooks discovers and upsets Holly Hunter when she finds out. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the film but it’s certainly worth watching. Bronson and Marvin are still sitting there when Wygant does it which is quite bizarre. So watch below and enjoy!

– Dwayne Epstein

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