While still cataloguing my mound of research material utilized forLee Marvin: Point Blank, I recently stumbled across yet even more lost nuggets from the man’s film debut that to my mind have remained unseen for decades…
In the top photo from Marvin’s film debut, USS Teakettle (1951), Marvin can be seen second from left running towards costar Millard Mitchell in this scene in which one of the steam driven boiler’s explodes. Also visible, wearing a low-brimmed sailor cap, is Jack Warden, who also began his lengthy film career with this film. In the center is veteran comedy actor, Harvey Lembeck who, along with Charles Bronson, also made his screen debut in U.S.S. Teakettle. Not pictured is the film’s above the title stars, Gary Cooper, Eddie Albert, Jack Webb and Jane Greer. By the way, the film flopped, in spite of 20th Century Fox rereleasing it under the less subtle comedy title, You’re In The Navy Now.
The bottom photo depicts cast and crew setting up on shot on the ship’s bow with Marvin pictured far right wearing radio gear. He had been hired merely as a background extra but fate loomed large for the actor early on in the production as agent Meyer Mishkin recounted to me in Lee Marvin: Point Blank (pp. 75-76).
This Wednesday marks Lee Marvin’s 90th birthday and in honor of him I’ll be posting some EXTREMELY RARE PHOTOS never before seen in tribute to his legacy. His first onscreen acting was in director’ Henry Hathaway’s 1951 service comedy, U.S.S. Teakettle with Gary Cooper. The partly true adventures of an experimental steam battleship was ignored by audiences, even after the film was re-released as You’re In The Navy Now…. How he made his screen debut in the minute role and the effect it had on his career is explained in detailed inLee Marvin Point Blank. But as small as the part was, playing the ship’s radio man, Lee still took it seriously, as did fellow New York actors making their debut Jack Warden and Charles Bronson
Filmed on location in Norfolk Virginia’s Naval installation, Lee relaxed on the set with another identified extra looking very much like an ad to join the U.S. Navy…..
In this rarely seen contact sheet below, Marvin confabs with costar Gary Cooper. While filming, Marvin accompanied Cooper to a gas station in which Cooper paid with a $10 check. “I’m going to frame this,” exclaimed the attendant. When Marvin later asked Cooper how many of his checks were ever cashed, the wily old star drawled, “About one in ten.”