DADS & GRADS? LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK!

Dads & grads have always had a special designation for Father’s Day. Why that is, I have no idea. Always reminds me of corny ads from my childhood to this day….

Not too imaginative, I grant you, but you get the point. At least such ads aren’t nearly as gaudy and off-putting as the ones for Memorial Day and President’s Day sales. What does any of this have to do with Lee Marvin? Well if it helps, Lee Marvin had a dad and also was a dad.

(L-R) Lee Marvin’s father, Monte, Lee, and Lee’s son, Christopher, holding the family dog, Liberty.

It may or may not be as well known but Lee was not a grad. He left school a year before graduation to join the USMC during the war and never did get his diploma. After the war he attended night school briefly to try to get his high school diploma but never finished any of the necessary classes.
However, in 1969, he did receive an honorary degree of fine arts from the school that would have been his alma mater, St. Leo in Florida. It had become an accredited university and as such, extended an invitation of an honorary degree to the Oscar-winning actor.

Lee Marvin, 2nd from right, receiving his Honorary Degree from St. Leo, along with then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird, 2nd from left.

So, when it comes to such things as dads & grads, Lee Marvin sort of qualifies. Now, the bigger question is what exactly is the point of this blog entry? Well, if you’re looking for the perfect Father’s Day gift or a nice little something for the graduate in life, look no further than Lee Marvin Point Blank. Most dads are familiar with Lee Marvin’s work and are fans while most graduates can become a fan by learning more about him. Makes sense now, doesn’t it? Available on Amazon at a half-priced soon to be extinct hardcover, reduced price Kindle and trade paperback with lots of extras. Feel free to check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Oh, and happy Father’s Day!
– Dwayne Epstein

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AUTHOR ROBERT WARD, ROLLING STONE…AND ME

What do author Robert Ward, Rolling Stone Magazine and I have in common? Well, let’s go back a ways, before the internet, before smart phones, back to a time when the printed word was all hard copy and the so-called “New Journalism” still had an impact.
It’s 1981 and the week’s cover of Rolling Stone (Stevie Nicks in full ethereal thrall) gave no hint to the internal contents. I’m at a magazine rack (remember those?) perusing the issue and my eyes fall upon this image….

Inside image from Rolling Stone, 1981.

Rolling Stone’s inside image to its accompanying profile of Lee Marvin.

I immediately thought, “How Cool!” before realizing it’s actually a full article on Lee Marvin written by author Robert Ward. The article itself is terrific, one of the best interviews with the actor I’ve ever read..to this day!

Author Robert Ward's opening to his Lee Marvin article.

First page of Rolling Stone’s Lee Marvin profile by Robert Ward.

I actually buy the issue, drive over to my buddy Mike’s house and show it to him. Seeing as how he’s just as big a Lee Marvin fan as I am, I figured he’d enjoy the hell out of it, too. A few days later, when I ask him what he thought of it, the following dialog took place.
Mike: I didn’t know he lived in the Tucson desert. We could drive out there and knock on his door.
Me:  We step on his property and he’d probably punch us both in the mouth.
Mike: Yeah, but how cool would it be to honestly tell people Lee Marvin punched us in the mouth?

Okay, flash forward several decades and I’m working diligently on Lee Marvin Point Blank. Frustrated for an anecdote that would properly illustrated my book’s theme, I reread the Rolling Stone piece and it presents itself. By the way, such things are not the proverbial flashbulb over the head. More like a 2×4 to the back of the neck.
Well, I turn everything in and lo and behold, upon publication, even some folks who may not like the book comment on how much they enjoyed the opening anecdote. On a hunch I then do a Facebook search for Ward and not only find him, but he accepts my friend request. I was nervous at first since he remained good friends with Marvin after the article came out and shock of shocks, he had read my book and liked it! We exchange more pleasantries and he invited me to his home since I offer to sell him a favorite piece of Marvin memorabilia. We talk, he pulls out a copy of my book and then asks me to sign it to him.  He also offers me a copy of one of HIS books that he signs to ME. It’s a collection of his wonderful essays through the years and I could not be more honored….

Renegades

Cover of Robert Ward’s Renegades.

Robert Ward's inscription.

“For Dwayne
Fellow rider on the storm.”

The entire moment reminded me a little of a scene in Donnie Brasco. It’s the one where Johnny Depp and Al Pacino exchange Xmas gifts and it consists of each of them counting the wad of stolen money they give each other. No money of course, but Robert Ward and I signing each other’s books at the same time and then exchanging them was a similar image to me. Good guy, that Robert Ward.
Oh, and the opening anecdote used in my  book’s intro? One of my favorites. If you don’t know, then read, Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

P.S. Ward is also the author of the novel and screenplay of the criminally underrated Cattle Annie and Little Britches. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Poster for Robert Ward’s CATTLE ANNIE & LITTLE BRITCHES.

 

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PARAMOUNT PICTURES: THE BIG PUSH FOR 1969

Paramount Pictures, like every major studio in the 1960s, found itself in flux in dealing with the changing tastes and times of filmmaking. Everything was being tried as the feudalism of studio domination and the old production code was crumbling.
By chance, I came across a great little time capsule of this at a used bookstore and snapped it up. It was the business bible of the day and was referred to as The Film Daily Yearbook of Motion Pictures 1969 – The Fifty First Edition.

Cover of The Film Daily Yearbook, 1969.

The hefty tome encapsulated everything imaginable involving the film industry. The foreword of the more than 1,000 pages echoes the case for the changing film industry, stating, “Statistics are the accepted footprints of an industry’s progress and growth. Nineteen sixty-eight and the beginning of sixty-nine in the motion picture industry, both American and world-wide, were essentially a period of change. The record of those changes, major as well as minor, and their effect upon the industry will be chronicled on the pages of this, the 51st edition the Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures.”
The forward is accurate as the pages are overflowing with stats and facts and more than a few colorful splash ads of various major and minor productions. Paramount Pictures was celebrating an anniversary that year and ran the following to tout the fact….

Paramount Pictures double page anniversary ad.

In the interest of being a trendsetter in the industry and not afraid to spend big bucks on a given project, Paramount spared no expense to show off its big upcoming production for 1969. It was a roadshow extravaganza, to be sure, and it was advertised as such. Check out the ad they went with…..

Paramount’s big, splashy ad for 1969.

It seem practically laughable now that this is where the time and effort of Paramount Pictures went for the transition year 1969, especially in view of the final product’s initial reception. However, hindsight as they say is 20/20 and in truth Paint Your Wagon is not nearly as bad as its reputation. Jut ask the film’s legion of fans. More astounding is the fact that the film even got made at all. That story is told in detail in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank and must be read to be believed. In the mean time, so long cinematic year 1969, we hardly knew ye.
– Dwayne Epsten

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