LEE MARVIN MOVIE QUOTES: THE EARLY YEARS

Marvin Movie Quotes
As many fans know by seeing his films and reading Lee Marvin: Point Blank, Marvin had a unique ability to make memorable lines of dialogue in a film eminently quotable. Even in the earliest stages of his career, his resonant voice and often sarcastic delivery made Marvin movie quotes stand out from the rest of the cast and even the basic premise of the film. Personal friends and associates noted the same thing when viewing his films.

Lee Marvin (“Meatball”) and Claude Akins (“Horrible”) in Edward Dymytrk’s The Caine Mutiny (1954).

Take for example his almost throw-away line in The Caine Mutiny uttered when he and fellow sailor Claude Akins are carrying some heavy equipment through a passageway on ship and want to clear the decks:

“Lady with a baby, coming through!”

Adolph Heckeroth, Marvin’s boss at Heckeroth’s Plumbing in Woodstock, had a son, Bill, who took over the company, and remembered the line (and his father’s former employee) so well, he said he repeated constantly at work whenever he needed to clear the area.

During a conversation with Marvin’s son, Christopher, another one of the great Marvin movie quotes came into play. I was helping him do some gardening when a weed seemed a little harder to remove than first thought. Automatically, we both uttered the same line his father said to one-armed Spencer Tracy when their two characters first met in Bad Day at a Black Rock:

Henchmen Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin watch as Spencer Tracy gets off the train and prepare to confront him in John Sturges’ Bad Day at a Black Rock (1955).

“You look like you could use a hand.”
The laughter and high-fives continued for some time after.

And then there’s his less than stellar film and performance in the all-star cast 3-D opus Gorilla at Large (1954). Marvin’s good friend from his Woodstock days, David Ballantine  told me with tongue planted firmly in cheek that he considered it Marvin’s greatest role. Ballantine told me that his friend’s role as Officer Shaunessey, charged with keeping an eye on the title character, remains his favorite because….well, you’ll have to read Lee Marvin Point Blank to find that out. In the mean time, there’s this memorable Marvin line of dialogue given the weighty dramatic delivery it deserves….

Lee Marvin utters his memorable line to Lee J. Cobb in Gorilla at Large (1954).

“They haven’t made a gorilla yet that can out smart, Shaunessey!”

Hey, any actor can do Shakespeare but let’s hear Olivier bellow out that beauty!
– Dwayne Epstein

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EIGHT IRON MEN: LEE MARVIN’S 1ST STARRING ROLE

As  readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know, the actor’s career did not really ascend until the mid 1960s, but interestingly enough, he did get his first film lead in the early 1950s. Based on the play A Sound Of Hunting by Harry Brown, Marvin had actually played the role of Sgt. Mooney even earlier when he was still working as a stage actor in New York.

Lee Marvin (left) and unknown costar in a rare color image of a stage production of A SOUND OF HUNTING.

Lee Marvin (left) and unknown costar in a rare color image of a stage production of A SOUND OF HUNTING.

The original Broadway production was not a hit with theatregoers of the day, as it told a tale that many who were combat vets themselves were all too familiar with at the time. A small company of soldiers in Europe during the war are hoping to go home soon, but instead, discover they are due to return to battle. In the interim, one of their numbers gets pinned down in the crossfire of a German machine gun nest. Sgt. Mooney, the leader of the exhausted, dwindling company, argues with his C.O., fights to keep his men in line, but mostly is fraught with the ultimate decision of what to do with their comrade left out in the crossfire. Basically a character study, it gave the all-male cast ample opportunity to flex their acting muscles in a taut little drama.

A rare photo depicting the set and entire cast of the short-lived Broadway play, A SOUND OF HUNTING. On the far left is Sam Levene and next to him is Burt Lancaster.

A rare photo depicting the set and entire cast of the short-lived Broadway play, A SOUND OF HUNTING. On the far left is Sam Levene and next to him is Burt Lancaster.

The Broadway play opened at the Lyceum Theatre on November 20, 1945 and closed  after just 23 performances on December 8th. The play remains an interesting footnote mostly notably for the actor who originated the role of Sgt. Mooney. He was an untrained actor with a show business backgound as an acrobat following a stint in the Army’s Special Service Corp. A fledgling agent saw the play, liked the young actor’s presence and offered the young man a Hollywood deal with legendary producer Hal Wallis. The young actor was brash enough to state that he wouldn’t go to Hollywood unless he could produce his own projects. Amazingly, a  deal was made. The agent was Harold Hecht. The actor was Burt Lancaster. They formed Hecht-Lancaster Productions and the rest is of course history. When Hecht became an independent producer (minus his partner Lancaster), his greatest solo success was 1965’s Cat Ballou.

Sam Levene (left) and Burt Lancaster (right) in the original production of A SOUND OF HUNTING.

Sam Levene (left) and Burt Lancaster (right) in the original production of A SOUND OF HUNTING.

As for the film version, titled Eight Iron Men, it was produced by maverick filmmaker Stanley Kramer and directed by noir veteran Edward Dymtryk. The cast consisted of Marvin, along with Richard Kiley, Bonar Colleano, Nick Dennis, Arthur Franz, Dickie Moore and Barney Phillips. By the way, there was also two TV versions of the story. In 1955 Lux Video Theatre aired a version under the film’s title of Eight Iron Men with Russell Johnson (the professor on Gilligan’ Island), William Schallert (Patty Duke’s TV father), Gene Reynolds (co-creator of TV’s M*A*S*H), a grown-up Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer, and directed by Biuzz Kulik who would later direct Marvin in Sgt. Ryker.
Believe it or not, there was yet another version for TV under its original title of A Sound of Hunting which aired in 1962 on the antholgy series, Dupont Show of the Month. The cast was even more eclectic as it consisted of Peter Falk, Sal Mineo, William Hickey, Gene Wilder and Robert Lansing in the role of Sgt. Mooney.
All fairly interesting little tidbits to snack on but the real interesting tidbit remains the film’s working title. For reasons known only to the late Stanley Kramer, the working title of the film was completely different from what it was released as. Probably had something to do with the fact that the number count was all wrong. Whatever the reason, it was changed to Eight Iron Men from the working title of…wait for it..that’s right, The Dirty Dozen (!)
– Dwayne Epstein

Arthur Franz (seated), Marvin and RIchard Kiley argue the fate of their comrade in 1952's EIGHT IRON MEN.

Arthur Franz (seated), Marvin and RIchard Kiley argue the fate of their comrade in 1952’s EIGHT IRON MEN.

Lee Marvin as Sgt. Joe Mooney and shapely costar in a dream sequence ultimately cut from the final version of EIGHT IRON MEN.

Lee Marvin as Sgt. Joe Mooney and shapely costar in a dream sequence ultimately cut from the final version of EIGHT IRON MEN.

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