MEMORIAL DAY LOCKDOWN: A (FITTING) REPOST

Memorial Day lockdown is upon us and since it is indeed a Memorial Day lockdown, I’ve decide to repost a previous blog entry. This holiday won’t be like previous ones (at all!) but I think the sentiments expressed below have not changed…..


Memorial Day weekend is upon us and to most folks it means backyard BBQs, big box sales events, picnics and the traditional start of the summer. It also means something else. It means honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country. That sacrifice was not only made on the battlefield. I have come to learn while working on Lee Marvin Point Blank that every single person who ever saw combat was wounded in one way or another and the result was a traumatized existence. Whether it was Agent Orange, PTSD, alcoholism, or rampant suicide, clearly, not all wounds were the result of combat. One example is Lee Marvin, who died at the premature age of 63.


Thanks to the extreme sacrifice of others, I was lucky enough to never have had that experience. Of course, that raised the question of how could I write about it, as it was a defining factor in Lee Marvin’s life? Gratefully, his letters from the war were discovered by yours truly, and after putting them in chronological order and deciphering their content, I was able to let Lee Marvin write that chapter in his own words…As it should be.

Lee Marvin’s headstone at Arlington as memorialized by members of the BSOL.

 

 




Several members of the BSOL (Bastard Sons of Lee) visited his grave site at Arlington a few years back and decided to leave the appropriate tribute seen here…..
So, this Memorial Day weekend, as it should be every Memorial Day weekend, take some time to remember the real reason for the day. Reading a good book on a the subject may be a good way to commemorate. I can recommend one: *wink, wink*
And more importantly, despite the lock down….give thanks.
– Dwayne Epstein

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POINT BLANK REMAKE? NOT EVEN CLOSE!

“POINT BLANK REMAKE” blared the headline in Variety.    Of course, my initial reaction to the headline itself was one of mixed emotions. While glad to see attention was being paid to Lee Marvin’s neo-noir classic — which could enliven his work to a wider audience — I bemoaned the lack of originality constantly being shown by Hollywood bigwigs. After all, Even Point Blank itself, was not the first version of Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake) mysterious character….

Liner notes from the POINT BLANK soundtrack CD describes the films genesis, as well as a graph of its many incarnations.  The only one missing since the CD’s release is Taylor Hackford’s PARKER (2013), starring Jason Statham.

Then I actually read the article. Never heard of a 2010 version of the same title with a completely different premise. Never heard of Fred Cavaye. Never even heard of Frank Grillo. How in god’s name did they get away with naming a non-related film Point Blank...and then make an announcement to remake it? Bizarre!
By the way, readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are well aware of Lee Marvin’s complete immersion in the John Boorman original, as well as the films evolution to the screen and its current well-earned cult status. Those who haven’t read it are in for an eye-opener!

Original ad art for two of several versions of Richard Stark’s original tale that would make a great double feature.

About the only positive thing I can possibly take away from the Variety article is the prominence of Anthony Mackie in the project. Unlike Frank Grillo, I am quite familiar with Mackie’s film work, having been impressed with him in both Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2005), and even more so in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2008). As Sergeant JT Sanborn, Mackie is a standout in the now classic film in which he draws an interminably long bead on an enemy Iraqi soldier…

Actor Anthony Mackie drawing a bead on the enemy in Kathryn Bigelow’s THE HURT LOCKER.

That point may seem off topic, but in truth it is definitely worthy of a mention in a Lee Marvin-themed blog. No one can really tell for sure but it’s a pretty safe bet Lee Marvin himself would have been impressed with both Mackie’s performance and the film itself. It’s dealing with the current veteran’s trauma of PTSD and Bigelow’s unflinching detail of it would definitely be in Marvin’s wheelhouse.
With such films possible, why a Point Blank remake….that isn’t even a Point Blank remake? Boggles the mind. Better yet, how about a biopic on the man who put Point Blank on the map…and endured a lifetime of grappling with PTSD? Just a thought.
– Dwayne Epstein

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DISCOVERING LEE MARVIN’S PTSD

PTSD:
Between the solemnity of Memorial Day and the honor bestowed upon Veterans Day, another day could be set aside for those who served in combat and survived physically, but suffer with PTSD, every day of their lives. Why such a day? Because the numbers are staggering. I discovered through my research of Lee Marvin Point Blank that anyone who has ever experienced combat lives with PTSD. Believe me, I’m no expert on the subject but once I began researching Lee Marvin’s life and work certain patterns began to emerge. These patterns were the result of the interviews I conducted with individuals who were the most intimate with him, such as his brother, first wife, son, and so on. They were the ones who set me on the path of looking into his probable PTSD as they told me of his night sweats, screaming nightmares, trauma-triggered alcohol binges, survivor guilt, and more.

Artist Thomas Lea powerfully captures what the Marines called, “The Gooney-Bird Stare,” in the midst of one soldier’s ongoing nightmare in the jungles of the South pacific during WWII.

Not being an expert, I of course set out to find what I could via the internet and the like. Surprisingly, the best data came from a most unlikely source. My father had been a member of Jewish War Veterans (JWV), but when the membership of his chapter dwindled, he reluctantly joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). As a member, he received their monthly magazine through 2010, even after he passed away from Alzeheimer’s in 2005…as did his two combat veteran older brothers before him. I wonder if their experiences hastened their demise?
It was the April, 2009, issue of VFW that helped me understand what Marvin experienced. Historian Thomas Childers’ decades-long research into the phenomena as it specifically effected WWII veterans is exactly what I needed to set me on the path of understanding Lee Marvin’s war-induced trauma. As he wrote in the table of contents: “For far too long, the myth has persisted that all WWII veterans came home and readjusted without a hitch. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The article helped me immensely in understanding Lee Marvin and that understanding helped make Lee Marvin Point Blank a better book. I’ve been chided on occasion with negative comments on Amazon and the like that my research did not apply to Marvin. Really? Read Childers’ full article below (marked by highlights that helped my research) and read Lee Marvin Point Blank and tell me I’m wrong. Until then, may we never have to have any generation be scarred with the trauma of war. It’s a worthy goal.
-Dwayne Epstein

VFW cover

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