FROM ADAM SANDLER TO LEE MARVIN IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS

People In The News: Adam Sandler (2004) published by Lucent Books, and then Lee Marvin Point Blank in paperback format as published by Schaffner Press in 2014.

Adam Sandler’s impressive comeback via his Netflix projects proves that talent will win out, especially following his recent disastrous, high-profile and expensive flops. Although not a huge fan of his output, I could have predicted his comeback, even though his core audience has grown up. How do I know? Bear with me…
A possible connection between Sandler and Lee Marvin is of course anything but obvious. However, with yours truly at the helm of this blog, there becomes one. To put it another way, there would never have been 2013’s Lee Marvin Point Blank had there not been 2004’s People in the News: Adam Sandler. Hardly clarifies, now does it? Heh, heh. I shall elaborate.
I came in contact with the good folks at Lucent (alternately known as Gale, Greenhaven and god knows what all) by good fortune and discovered their People in the News series. They promptly offered me either George Bush Jr, Eminem or Adam Sandler. The choice became obvious. Thank god Sandler made Punch-Drunk Love or I never would have survived!
They also informed me of certain writing requirements for each title in the series. Chief among them was to not only write each chapter chronologically (duh!), but more importantly, emphasize an important theme within each chapter. THAT dear reader proved to be the best lesson and ongoing exercise I ever got in biographical research and writing. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank may hopefully see the chapter themes as well as the overall theme of Marvin’s life and work. It was a direct result of my writing about Sandler and later other prominent contemporary figures. I actually wish those books were still being published but alas, the likes of Wikipedia’s popularity put an end to the series. Ahh, well. Such is life.
I came up with the chapter titles based on those themes I came up with in researching Sandler’s life and work, as shown below….

Copyright page and table of contents for Adam Sandler People in the News.

I also discovered no matter how easy you might think writing the introduction might be, ALWAYS write it last. It may seem obvious but it took me some frustrating rewrites to discover that the intro is the end game, since you never know what the main theme is until the project is written. Good lesson. It also created a new respect for Sandler’s output and his resiliency. I did the same with Lee Marvin Point Blank which proved to be the theme AND title of the book. My Sandler intro below, bears this out…

Introduction to Adam Sandler People in the News and the theme therein.

It must have worked since the the editors liked it and I did write several more as a hired gun. I never received royalties so I never knew if it was selling well or was well-received. Imagine my surprise when I saw this review on Amazon on April 29, 2015: “Delivered promptly and in excellent condition. My 11-year old son wants to be a comedian, and this was the perfect book for him and he even received school credit for reading it.”
Cool, huh? I guess discovering the theme of Sandler’s work, no matter how corny or distasteful it may be to some, proved successful, after all. Yeah, Sandler’s going to be around for a while, Hopefully, I will, too.

Here’s proof that I had nothing to do with the choice of photos used or the captions that were written. I would not have chosen this photo and if I did, I surely would have mentioned that looks on Dana Carvey and especially Phil Hartman’s faces.

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LIBERTY VALANCE PREMIERES APRIL 13, 1962

On this date in 1962, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance premiered and it’s production, reception and legacy is fully covered in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Readers will discover how the cast REALLY got along during the filming, what John Ford thought of his new but late-in-the-game stock company member, Lee Marvin, why Lee Marvin’s son considers it his favorite film, what he said when introduced to John Wayne and infinitely more! Most exclusive of all was an interview with the late, great Woody Strode and his personal take on what happened on set and why he loved Lee Marvin.
However, to honor the occasion, here a few strange tidbits from the past to pay tribute to the last great John Wayne/John Ford western that were not included in the book.

Pre-release movie magazine teaser ad for LIBERTY VALANCE.

This strange ad above is the kind of thing you just don’t see any more, and maybe that’s a good thing. What’s with the nursery rhyming scheme? Did the publicity dept, think anxious  film fans would put it to music and sing these little ditties to help promote word-of-mouth? Bizarre. Did these folks even seen the film? Andy Devine’s character of Sheriff Link Appleyard hardly lived to help ‘the ones in need.’ The one for Valance isn’t even accurate. He didn’t spread shame. He spread pain!
Then there’s this ‘Behnd-the-scenes’ article from the June, 1962 issue of Screen Stories.

Screen Stories 1962 article on the making of LIBERTY VALANCE.

You can already tell from the opening that a good portion of it was a result more of p.r. than it was actual onset reporting. That’s fine in the long run, I guess, but it also has some interesting trivia, such as the fact that the entire male cast were each 6-foot tall or taller!
Also has one of my favorite John Ford quotes: “We have a very fine cast of actors in this film, and John Wayne.”

Behind the scenes article, page 2.

And there’s this review, which explains why the movie took a while to get an audience. Not only does the reviewer spell Jimmy Stewart’s name wrong, he commits the ultimate sin of a reviewer by giving away the ending…and then rates the film a C-!

Movie rag…er…mag review of LIBERTY VALANCE.

Is it any wonder I dislike most critics? Ahh well. Never mind the critics. Just enjoy the great film for what it is: One of Lee Marvin’s best performances and a lasting testament to what John Ford contributed to the American Western: When the truth becomes the legend, print the legend.

Smack dab in the center is Lee Marvin in the March, 1962 issue of PARAMOUNT WORLD, promoting the release of Liberty Valance.

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FINDING THE RIGHT AUTHOR PHOTO FOR DWAYNE EPSTEIN

You would think using a photo of myself, Dwayne Epstein, for the cover of Lee Marvin Point Blank would be a rather simple matter. Not so when the situation was complicated by several factors. Topping the list was not liking how I look in photographs. In fact, there are damn few photos of myself that I like. There are a handful of exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between. One exception was a photo of me taken in New Jersey back in the late 80s.

Author Dwayne Epstein in New Jersey, circa 1989.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to use that photo but publisher Tim Schaffner balked at the idea, stating that it was too old and I no longer looked like that. He was right of course. So, I thought about this possibility, taken a few a years later when I moved back to California. Problem was that I no longer had the beard and…I no longer looked liked. Cool posters, though, huh? Unlike the beard, I still have them.

 

 

 

Long Beach, Calif, circa 1991

 

 

 

 
Then there was the idea of this photo, in which I posed with Robert Marvin in front of the Marvin family home in 1994. Problem was….that’s right, you guessed it. I no longer looked like that. Sensing a trend, here?

 

 

Robert Marvin and author Dwayne Epstein in front of the Marvin home in Woodstock, NY, in the mid-90s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally, I didn’t understand why this was becoming so difficult. It had not dawned on me at the time that my publisher was trying to politely spare my feelings. It reminded me a lot of that scene in The Professionals with Ralph Bellamy and Lee Marvin. You know the one. Early in the film, Bellamy’s character of J.W. Grant points to a newspaper clipping on the wall that includes an image of Marvin during the Mexican Revolution. He tells Marvin’s character, Henry ‘Rico’ Fardan, “Your hair was darker, then.” Silver-haired Marvin responds, “My heart was lighter, then.”

 

 

 

Ralph Bellamy and Lee Marvin in ‘that’ scene from THE PROFESSIONALS.

It had gotten so bad between the publisher and myself that he hired a professional photographer to take a more recent picture. The ones the publisher liked I detested and vice versa. I suggested that my girlfriend Barbara take the shot. End result? His choice was used for the hardcover and my choice, by Barbara, was used for the paperback. Want to know what they look like? Ha! Buy the book(s).

 

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