A key aspect in researching Lee Marvin Point Blank was discovering an appropriate theme, and in the case of Lee Marvin, that theme emerged as his screen persona’s involvement in facing evil. He knew about facing evil from his time in the USMC, of course, but it would be some time later in which he could articulate what that meant to him through his acting career.
In the early 1960s, Marvin met Dr. Harry Willner when the actor was cast in the TV drama “People Need People.” It was based on Willner’s breakthrough experiences using group therapy to help traumatized war veterans. Marvin gave a harrowing, Emmy-nominated performance. He also became good friends with Willner, and helped him launch a version of the story to help prisoners in San Quentin!
Over the years, WIllner and Marvin continued to stay in touch and on occasion, helped each other with various projects, which included helping young veterans deal with their own PTSD. Shortly before his death, Marvin agreed to speak at a conference WIllner organized on the subject of facing evil, later compiled in a book WIllner published of the same name. Below, are Marvin’s comments which Willner used as the book’s dedication. The actor was articulate, thoughtful and, as his words bear out, highly insightful when it comes to facing evil….
The cover of Dr. Harry Willner’s compendium, FACING EVIL.
Lee Marvin’s comments from his talk at Harry Williner’s conference, one of the actor’s last public appearances.
Picture this: I’m in the earliest stages of researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, standing in the middle of the public library, when I read the Film Comment article written by director Jim Jarmusch that reveals the first mention I’ve ever heard concerning the Sons of Lee Marvin. I was still slightly on the fence at the time about whether I should undertake the project at all, that is unti I read Jarmusch’s article.
Being a lifelong film buff I had read much about the legacy of film stars following their passing. The cult surrounding stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and others are well know to myself and the general public. Such reverence is often shown via film revivals, books and other venues. However, in all the years I have encountered such things I have never encountered anything as what Jarmusch talks about in his unveiling of the Sons Of Lee Marvin. It literally made me laugh out loud when he retold the anecdote concerning fellow member Tom Waits and the real son of Lee Marvin. I was shushed by the librarian and warned if I repeat the guffaw I’d be asked to leave. I acquiesced to the glares and stares of the other patrons but figured in my head, what the hell, it was worth it. My appreciation of Marvin expanded and my curiosity deepened. Quite simply, the more I found out about him, the more I liked him.
This article, by the way, was part of series in Film Comment in which film makers were asked to list their “Guilty Pleasures,” films they know are bad but they like anyway and with a given reason. Jarmusch dedicates one 10th of his entire list to his favorite Marvin films! So, without further ado, below is the original article that helped pushed me over the edge into dedicating myself to researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Oh, and by the way, the story about Waits and Christopher Marvin is pure b.s. but sounds great, doesn’t it? If you want to know the truth, from Christopher Marvin himself. you gotta read Lee Marvin Point Blank.
The original article by Jim Jarmusch in Film Comment.
In researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank, it was mandatory that I deal with the relationship between Lee Marvin and his pariah, Michele Triola, whether I like it or not. In doing so, one comes across a pretty strange array of, shall we say artifacts? I would check Ebay regularly (among other sources) for any rare or hard to find info on Lee and came across the above entitled items for sale. Naturally intrigued, I bid on and won it, but when I questioned the buyer of its origins, he was very mysteriously evasive. In other words, I have no idea if any of the images ever saw the light of day or even who the photographer was, for that matter. The contact sheet was undated so any time frame is purely conjecture. I’m pretty sure it was before she met Lee Marvin on the set of Ship of Fools in 1964. I’d venture a guess that the pictures were taken in the very late 50s or early 60s.
“Oh hi, Lee. Yes, I was just going to call you and…Oh hold on. I have Glenn Ford on the other line….”
Please forgive the attempted humor in the first caption. I just couldn’t help myself. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank will of course get the reference but others probably won’t. In that case, read the book to find out.
Which reminds me of something else I’d like to point out. Several reviewers stated that I was unduly and unnecessarily cruel in my assessment of Ms. Triola and to that I say they should have done the research that I did as that is where the assessment comes from. I didn’t get a chance to interview her, although I made several attempts to do so. Readers know the comments and stories concerning Michele Triola came directly from interviews I conducted with individuals with firsthand knowledge of her and her relationship with Lee. People such as Lee’s palimony lawyer, David Kagon, stuntman Tony Epper, business manager Ed Silver, and many others all went on the record about her and I found it interesting that even though they may not have known each other, they all told similar ribald tales about her. Want to know what they were? Read the book. In the mean time, feel free to check out the contact sheets below….
Contact sheet for unknown Men’s Magazine featuring Michel Triola.