What exactly is the momentous Marvin memento? Well, a little back story is required. When Lee Marvin came home after the war, he settled with his family in the upstate New York area of Woodstock. The closest friend he made those years after the war was David Ballantine. The two men shared many interests including fishing, hunting and gun collecting. Before Marvin knew what he was going to with his life, and even the years after he decided to become an actor, the entire Ballantine family had a great influence over his life. In fact, it was David’s father, E.J. “Teddy” Ballantine who opened Marvin’s eyes to a life as an actor. David’s brother, Ian, and sister-in-law, Betty, started the very succesful publishing company Ballantine Books. Betty was a trusted confidante to the former combat Marine, so much so that he was her insight that led me to discover Marvin’s PTSD which became a most important theme in Lee Marvin: Point Blank.
In the years following Marvin’s phenomonally successful acting career, his friends and family from Woodstock were never too far from his memory. He would visit whenever he could and when something reminded him of his friends back east, he was sure to let them know it. Case in point, this letter from 1969, written and mailed on Monte Walsh stationary….
ballantine envelope

The contents of the letter were 2-fold. First, a quickly typed letter to David in which Marvin recounts the following anecdote on the beach at Malibu….

Dear David,

You are going to think I’m full of shit but here it is. Yesterday I was walking down the beach amongst the driftwood and trash line and feeling a little possesive, my beach, when I spot this green Scotch bottle, a pint, and know the label used to read Ballantine’s. The cork is still in it and I think, the bastards, why don’t they leave the cork out and then it would eventually sink and not litter up ‘MY BEACH.’ Proceeding to do the same, I pick it up and lo….there is something in it. Ah Ha. Some children have secreted a secret map or call for help in it. Okay, I’ll play the game. I can not pull it out of the slim neck so I bring it back to the house and get a hammer and go out to the trashcan to break it. I DO NOT WANT BROKEN GLASS ON ‘MY BEACH.’ So doing, lo and behold. The rest is self-explanatory. I thought you might get a kick out of it, I did. Love to you all, & Pam,


ballantine letter




What was the 2nd part of the letter that Lee felt was self-explanatory and worthy of writing in the first place? It was of course, the following content of the bottle…..
ballantine content




International Appeal of Lee Marvin

As shown in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank, it didn’t matter if it was Europe, South America or Asia, Lee Marvin’s appeal knew no bounds and the international media took full advantage of it. As a matter of fact, after Lee and Betty Marvin divorced, she had had her full of seeing ex-husband’s image everywhere and decided to move to Europe. Stepping off the plane in Europe she was greeted by massive ads and banners advertising a new musuem photo exhibit highlighting a certain popular American movie star. Wanna guess who it was?

Whenever a new film of Marvin’s was set to open, pop culture magazines of the day ran such articles as the following pages below from Japan….


Lee Marvin in Japan




Lee Marvin in Japan 2


Lee Marvin in Japan 3

Despite the fact that French actress Jeanne Moreau was his co-star, Marvin’s appeal was so great overseas that when Monte Walsh went into general release, the first page of an Italian magazine’s 3-page article about the film was this simple image…


Lee Marvin in Italy


At the time of his death, in 1987, A French magazine ran the following article. By the way, anybody speak French?


Lee Marvin in France 1



Lee Marvin in France 2




Japanese Programs
Lee Marvin’s popularity in the 60s and 70s was not limited simply to the U.S. but drew worldwide acclaim. Consequently, it’s no secret that the Japanese populace loves American pop culture. If any proof were needed, check out the extremely rare Japanese Program covers to several Lee Marvin film programs distributed at the time of the film’s release (all of the films are detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank)….
professionalscvrFollowing The Professionals (written and directed by Oscar-nominated Richard Brooks), pictured above, is the equally rare Japanese program for Marvin’s underrated 1970 western Monte Walsh….
montecvrClearly, Japanese filmgoers enjoyed the American western and may even have seen allegories to their own samurai mythology, such as the way director John Sturges had by turning Kurasowa’s Seven Samurai into the Magnificent Seven or Sergio Leone turning Kurasowa’s Yojimbo into A Fistful of Dollars. Marvin’s 1974 failed western, The Spike’s Gang could have easily been done in a samurai-stye. By the way, check out the pre-Ocar Ron Howard….
spikescvrSpeaking of allegorical films, few were done as well as Marvin’s 1973 opus, Emperor of the North, pitting his rugged individualist hobo against Ernest Borgnine’s sadistic establisment railroad man. AT the time of it’s release it flopped for a myriad of reasons but luckily, through DVDs and cable, it’s find a new life….