The 1970s is now considered a golden age of American filmmaking as the studio system and production code became extinct and new filmmakers and revisionist ideas took hold. For Lee Marvin, that period was a mixed bag with a nary a hit film throughout the decade but several that went on to become bona fide successes with the passage of time. Monte Walsh (1970) for example, based on Jack Schaefer’s novel, found an audience years later but flopped when first released. Below are several paperback tie-ins from that very tumultuous decade….

1spikesPrimeOn the right is Prime Cut (1972) with Gene Hackman, a strange gangster/exploitation/action film that featured a mostly nude young Sissy Spacek and a whole lot of strange imagery. It has gone on to become quite cult phenomenon. On the left, The Bank Robber, retitled Spikes Gang (1974) for cinematic release that held promise but ultimately failed at the box office. Director Richard Fleischer explained why Marvin agreed to it in  Lee Marvin Point Blank (p. 204).




1973 was a banner year for two quality Lee Marvin projects that just didn’t click with audiences for various reasons. Book versions of two literate projects failed to even take advantage of ripe promotion at the time. Instead, Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh was in print highlighting the stage version fro the 50s, not the Frankenheimer film put out by the American FIim Theater in limited release then remained unseen for decades.

On the right is a recent reprint of the original source material for Emperor of the North written by the actual A No. 1 himself pictured in the center with his hobo cohort Cigaret, better know as writer Jack London.




Marvin attempted to recapture the fun of Cat Ballou with the 1975 AIP release of The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday but with a much more bawdy attitude. The result was lost on audiences. Worst yet, was the film adaption of William Bradford Huie’s well received novel, The Klansman, a well intentioned project that proved a dismal failure on every level. Marvin does get to pull a gun on O.J. Simpson, though.



 The downward turn continued with 2 films that were just a case of too little, too late. Shout at the Devil (right) was based on a popular European novel by Wilbur Smith but would have been more suited to the 1950s or 1960s as a film than its release year of 1976. Cold War spy thriller’s were also a thing of the past by the time the ill-fated Avalanche Express was released in 1979. It is not largely known that cult film director Monte Hellman actually took over the film when originally assigned directed Mark Robson died suddenly during production, as did costar Robert Shaw (Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 213-214)


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Actor Jeff Bridges, best known as ‘The Dude’ in the 1998 film The Big Lebowski, worked with Lee Marvin early in his career, when they costarred in the American Film Theater’s 1973 production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. For a young actor still not sure of himself, working with the likes of Marvin, Fredric March, and Robert Ryan in a classic piece of American theatre, the concept is both understandably a blessing and a daunting gauntlet!
Bridges graciously granted me an interview for my book Lee Marvin: Point Blank. He could not have been more gracious (despite his VERY busy schedule) in taking the time to do a phone interview with yours truly from the backseat of his car going from the set to his hotel room that evening. Not included in the book is the following statement Bridges gave me that was his overall apprasial of Marvin’s work:


“I remember that TV show he did, M Squad and movies, like The Big Red One. That was a good one. I also liked Cat Ballou, Point Blank, Monte Walsh and of course, The Dirty Dozen. He could do those films like no one else, the whole military thing. There was no one like Lee Marvin. There are other actors who are just as fine but no one did what he did, especially the way he did it.”
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