HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK!

As the title says, happy holidays from Lee Marvin Point Blank!
Lee Marvin: Point Blank by Dwayne Epstein (cover)
Although it’s already well into December, it’s still not too late to order your copy in its various formats listed below for yourself, for a family member, or good friend who is a Marvin fan, or just wants to know more about him and his fascinating life. I’ve always thought of a book as the perfect gift for someone, as it’s useful and relatively inexpensive compared to other items you can get. As Steve Allen said to me when I interviewed him back in 1997: “I will never understand why people complain about the cost of books. It’s still cheaper than a bottle of good liquor and lasts a hell of a lot longer.”
Even if you already have a copy — and thank you if you do — it’s not too late to consider it as a Christmas or Hannukah gift (Dec. 12th-20th) this year. Don’t let the fact that it’s been out for a while dissuade you, as it’s still selling pretty well. In fact, just a few months ago, the Kindle squeaked into Amazon’s Top 100….

Amazon’s List of Top 100 biographies, Sept. 2017.

Amazon ad for Lee Marvin Point Blank recently sent via e-mail.

Amazon has also taken to continue advertising the title among similar books, which is a good thing… and quite surprising for a four year old title!
As to the formats, they are below and links are included for purchase online via both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Amazons link are in boldface blue in the heading, while I placed the Barnes & Noble links at the end of each listing….
Hardcover: Still very much available and in stock as a new title. Includes 2 separate photo sections placed appropriately in the text, with most of them never having been published before. Cool & classic dust jacket, too, makes for a great holiday morning surprise, all designed by graphic design wizard Jake Kiehle! (Barnes & Noble)
Trade Paperback: Includes all of the text as the hardcover, as well as the photos, but is compiled in one section not two, as is common for trade paperbacks. There are extras, such as an interview with yours truly about the book and topics for discussion.  (Barnes & Noble)
E-book: Kindle or Nook: Amazon’s Kindle has proven to be quite popular so there must be something to it. I haven’t seen it myself but it sells more in that format than any other. Personally, I think it’s good thing as my agent, Mike Hamilburg, and publisher Tim Schaffner worked it out for me to get a larger percentage of the royalty in that format, so who am I to complain? (Barnes & Noble’s Nook)
By the way, the title is also available online as an Apple iBook, and at Powell’s BooksBooks-a-Million, and IndieBound, locating your favorite neighborhood bookstore by zip code.
And so, there you have it. An easy way to get the perfect gift for a loved one without the hassle of going to the mall. Of course, if you’d like to, the book is still available there, as well. If they don’t have it, demand it as your right as consumer!
As Christopher Marvin once told me, whenever he got anxious as a child for an upcoming event, his father advised him, “Relax, kid. We all get to Christmas at the same time.” Well, it is upon us and to one and all I wish you each happy holidays!
– Dwayne Epstein

Have a happy holiday season from Lee Marvin Point Blank…OR ELSE!

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LUMP-IN-THE-THROAT MOMENTS: TWILIGHT ZONE’s STEEL

As I wrote in Lee Marvin Point Blank, the actor proved to be more versatile on TV than he ever was on film so consequently, moments of genuine poignancy proved less elusive on the small screen with several ‘Lump-in-the-throats moments, with one in particular coming to mind; A Twilight Zone episode he appeared in back in 1963 that still resonates today.
Episode was “Steel, written by Richard Matheson and based on his short story. It’s one of Marvin’s best performance and given in less than a half hour’s time. It takes place in the near future with boxing outlawed due to its inherent brutality. Replaced by battling robots, former boxer ‘Steel’ Kelly (Marvin) and his partner Pole (Joe Mantell) have trundled their broken down robot, Battling Maxo, into town for his next bout. The problem is Maxo, like Kelly, has fought too many fights, so Kelly decides to go in the ring as a robot against the formidable robot opponent, The Maynard Flash.

Lee Marvin’s Steel Kelly disguised as ‘Battling Maxo” with Joe Mantell as his partner, Polo.

The viewer is obviously pulling for Kelly but the result is inevitable. Watching Marvin throughout the episode is an exercise in textbook poignancy. Whether witnessing his empty boasts of his prior career, or seeing him writhing in pain on the floor near the episode’s climax, his character elicits the same emotion as Death of Salesman’s Willie Loman. He is tragic, but he never gives in to the tragedy of his own situation, making him all the more torturous to watch.
Author Steven Jay Rubin’s new book, The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia garnered some major exclusives about the show and the Steel episode in particular.

Steven Jay Rubin’s excellent new book, THE TWILIGHT ZONE ENCYCLOPEDIA.

 

 

Most notably, an interview with the actor who portrayed Marvin’s robotic opponent, The Maynard Flash.  Former boxer and stuntman Chick Hicks stated to Rubin:
“I knew Lee Marvin for a long time, and he was a real man and a great guy. During the fight scenes, while filming I had two pieces of plastic over my eyes [to make me look like a robot] and I was pretty new to the business, so instead of putting little holes in them, so that I could have some air in there, I sweated and I was just looking at a blur most of the time, and I ended up hitting Lee a couple of times but the tough Marine that he was never complained.

‘Steel’ Kelly (Lee Marvin) taking some real punches as Battling Maxo from the more advanced Maynard Flash (Chuck Hicks) in The Twilight Zone.

He always would say, ‘Don’t worry abut it, Chuck. I know your problem.’ Yeah, he was a drinker, but a real great man underneath that plastic and skin.”
By the way, I’ll be interviewing Steve Rubin in an upcoming issue of Filmfax Magazine so be sure to be on the look out for it as he told me some things he left out of the book: *wink, wink*
-Dwayne Epstein

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ADVENTURES IN AUTHORING: ANSWERING NEGATIVE CRITICISM

A while back I was having dinner with my publisher, Tim Schaffner, when the subject of negative criticism of Lee Marvin Point Blank came up.
Don’t get me wrong, the overwhelming majority of reviews of the book have been largely positive and for that I am eternally grateful.

Paperback back cover of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK (designed by Jake Kiehle) highlighting some of the reviews.

However, the handful of negative criticism still stick in one’s craw. I can chuckle at it now but at the time, you can’t imagine how frustrating it is to be pummeled over something the critic claims authority over, yet in reality, knows nothing about….and then blames me!
What had bothered Tim was a review that not only raked the book over the coals, but also tore into what the reviewer thought was the awful editing of the book. Why did that bother Tim so much? He just happened to have been the editor! I told him I had read some other negatives too, but he emphasized to me in no uncertain terms that no matter how tempting it is: DO NOT RESPOND IN KIND. His point being that iit gives them a platform, brings you down to their level, and might even effect sales negatively in the long run if the review is believed.
He was right of course, but seeing as how this is my blog, to help support and supplement my book, run for cover if you are so inclined as I’m-a gonna fire back, once and for all. As James Dean said to Rock Hudson in Giant: “And there ain’t a dang thing you can do about it!”
Okay, Since I had told Tim I wouldn’t respond in kind, and to keep myself as honest as possible, I’ll just focus on two such reviews and I won’t be citing the source of the criticism. I’ll merely quote the inane comment anonymously and then show how frustratingly wrong they can be. Ready? I’ll start with the one that pissed off Tim so much. Here goes….

… Dwayne Epstein’s Lee Marvin: Point Blank isn’t anything close to definitive. A sloppily edited assemblage of interviews, it’s first-draft oral history in which readers with considerable patience can find Epstein issues several medical diagnoses derived from his own conclusions….Marvin fans who can get through all the throat-clearing tedium will find similar quotable bits in these underedited pages.

Heh, heh. Can you see why Tim, the book, editor got so pissed? No proof to back up their claim, no alternative response, not even an example of my ‘throat-clearing tedium,’ other than one sentence in which the quote is taken completely out of context. I hope the idiotic reviewer got paid well for his online rant because he may have kept a lot of well-meaning movie geeks from reading my book and discovering Lee Marvin for themselves. Sadly, it’s their loss.
And now, my personal favorite. There’s the one from a respected and long-in-the-tooth film journal that went to town on my facts. Strange scenario involved as well because the reviewer sent me the review and apologized as it was a last minute assignment for him, thus hinting that he may not have read the whole thing. Like a bonehead, I thanked him for his effort without reading the review first. Still kicking myself over that one. Here’s part of what bugged me….

Epstein does tell of Marvin—during the filming of Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One (1980), his last great role—taking the stage at a Roman-built amphitheater in Israel to recite a soliloquy from King Lear. That event is as surprising to the reader as it must have been to Marvin’s costars, as there’s no other mention in the book of Marvin having an affinity or aptitude for William Shakespeare or classical drama.

Hmm, do you think he may have missed the section in which Lee studied the classics at the American Theatre Wing (ATW)? Possibly. Then again, he probably also missed this image in the photo section (laid out by graphic artist Jake Kiehle), as well…..

Lee Marvin in LM:PB’s photo section shown in Shakespearean garb while attending the ATW.

I swear to you folks, try as you might, you just can’t make these things up!
Okay, enough ranting. Don’t go by my word as to the book’s value. Certainly don’t go by the word of an online movie geek or pompous film journalist, either. By all means, judge for yourself. Read the book. Find out about Lee Marvin. Rent or download some of his films. Then, do something revolutionary these days: make up your OWN mind.
– Dwayne Epstein

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