THE SIMPSONS: “THANK GOD FOR LEE MARVIN!”

The Simpsons, Fox’s long-running prime time animated series, may not seem like a suitable blog post for all things Lee Marvin, but fans of the show may know different. Rolling Stone magazine posted a list of the shows best episodes and the musical clip episode from the show’s ninth season ranked among them. What does this have to do with Lee Marvin?

Lee Marvin & Clint Eastwood animated on The Simpsons.

As I said, long standing fans of the show probably know why and it’s good to know that Rolling Stone feels the same. 
 The clip below says it all and is a wonderful example of what the show did best when it was at its best. To set up the episode that consisted of musical clips from past shows, The Simpsons had gone out to rent a video but argue over what to watch, with Marge and Lisa preferring a rom-com, while Homer and Bart naturally prefer something a little more macho. They land on Paint Your Wagon (1969), since it stars Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, which Bart and Homer assume would fulfill their masculine viewing needs. 
    As an aside, I first watched this episode with my best friend, one Mike Barrow, another Lee Marvin fan and diehard aficionado of The Simpsons. He had come to visit me in my new apartment in Long Beach but before we caught up on old times he said a new episode was on and we HAD to watch it. I was in the earliest stages of researching Lee Marvin Point Blank so we had much to talk about…AFTER viewing the episode. We turned on the TV to catch the episode and imagine our immense surprise when we see the opening! 

Mike Barrow and the author back in the day.

Naturally, after it aired, we had even more to bond over! Keep in mind, this is the guy with whom I watched The Dirty Dozen (1967) with on video so often, it got to the point that he would just call me up and start to hum the the film’s main theme and I would respond, “Sure, come on over.” Now that’s a buddy. 
All that said, for those who may have missed it, below is the clip in question. Watch. Enjoy. And remember, “Thank god for Lee Marvin! He’s always drunk and violent!”
– Dwayne Epstein 


 

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RICK SPALLA: 1960’S LEE MARVIN DOCUMENTARY

Rick Spalla, an independent TV producer of entertainment news shows of substance (i.e. not TMZ or Entertainment Tonight), was one of the first people I sought when I began working on my Lee Marvin biography. I had learned of a TV documentary he had done on Marvin back in 1969 and was desperate to see it and find out more about it. Glad I did.
Don’t recall how I managed it back in those pre-internet days of the 1990s, but I secured an interview with Rick Spalla who graciously let me view the show in his studio on a moviola he set up. The 16 mm film was hardly HD, and stopping and starting it to take proper notes was a challenge, but it was well-worth it for the nuggets of info I was able to mine and put in the book.
Spalla died in 2001 and I never did get to see the show again, that is until now.

Lee Marvin being interviewed by Joe Hyams on location in Oregon during PAINT YOUR WAGON as they enjoy the rehearsal of The Nitty Gritty Band.

Imagine my surprise when Facebook friend and fellow film biographer, Gabriel Hershman, wrote me recently to tell me the show has been posted on YouTube! He sent me the link and I viewed it again as if for the first time. It really was well-done and holds up extremely well, in my opinion.
In fact, it reminded me of the quote I got from Spalla as to how his idea for the show came about: “Initially, I was planning to do the show about Keenan [Wynn] and his racing. Keenan invited Lee along. Then, over the years, Lee just got to be such a big star, we had to do one about him once the series started.”

Closing credit from the show PORTRAIT: LEE MARVIN.

Several of the people interviewed for the show had passed away by the time I began working on Lee Marvin Point Blank. Thanks to Spalla, I was able to get quotes from the likes of Keenan Wynn, Robert Ryan, Jack Webb, and others all of which went in the book. Readers know I also got first person exclusives myself with the show’s other guests, like Terry Moore, Eliot Silverstein, Angie Dickinson and more, so feel free to check those out, as well.
All in all rediscovering the show on YouTube thanks to Gabriel Hershman, was a revelation.

Author Gabriel Hershman’s biography of Albert Finney (above) is HIGHLY recommended.

Marvin was candid and whimsical during the on location interview, the film clips are well-placed and the anecdotes told about him are wonderful.

As to Rick Spalla’s opinion of his subject, he told me: “He lived life to the fullest. He loved living. We went down to Mazatlan so I could film him fishing and he was in heaven. He called it ‘Margarita time.’ On the first day he caught 6 sailfish and a marlin. When he was fishing, he was like a kid with a toy. As if he had all the toys in the world. He’d catch a fish and couldn’t wait to throw the line out again. It was like a movie or something. After the first day, he wanted me to go out with him again, but I had enough.”
Luckliy, for the rest of us, we can now see what he meant. So, without further ado, I give you Portrait: Lee Marvin, part one and part two. or click the images below. Thanks again, Gabriel!

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JOHN MITCHUM ON LEE MARVIN

John Mitchum, veteran character actor of countless films and TV shows, was also the younger brother of the legendary Robert Mitchum. He once wrote a book in the late 1980s about his life and experiences in Hollywood that’s overflowing with anecdotes and sometimes bawdy tales.

Paperback cover of John Mitchum’s memoir, THEM ORNERY MITCHUM BOYS.

I discovered the book, titled Them Ornery Mitchum Boys after my book, Lee Marvin: Point Blank, had already been published. It concerned me at first as I had always been a fan of his “Big Brother Bob,” and thought there may be something therein I may have missed out on for my research. Luckily, I had interviewed John Mitchum during a visit to the Lone Pine Film Festival and was able to get some wonderful quotes from the man at the time.
Since that time, I purchased a copy of the book on Ebay and was happy to discover it was also signed by the author!

Signature of John Mitchum.

That said, I was able to enjoy reading the tales of John and “Big Brother Bob” without trepidation that I had missed out on any important talking points John may have included, since he did indeed work with Lee Marvin on M Squad and also Point Your Wagon.  By the way, if you want to see some of “Big Brother Bob’s” best work, check out his astounding trilogy of films fro the early 70s: The Yakuza (produced by my agent, the late Mike Hamilburg) The Friends of Eddie Coyle & Farewell My Lovely. if they don’t make you a fan of his world-weary cynicism, then nothing will.
Anyway, below is the section of tales John wrote about Lee that includes thoughts on Jean Seberg, Ty Cabeen, and more. Enjoy…
– Dwayne Epstein

John Mitchum’s take on working with Lee Marvin.

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