A while back I raised the hypothetical of who could play Lee Marvin in a biopic based on my book, Lee Marvin Point Blank. Those previous posts can be found here, by the way: Part I and Part II. Since the response was so very positive, now I’d like to pose yet another hypothetical: Which director, working today, has a style and vision that best suits the kind of film a Marvin biopic would be? I’d appreciate the thoughts of any reader interested in chiming in. As for myself, I have a couple of possibilties, a dirty dozen if you will of more than appropriate contenders. Truth be told, I do indeed have my favorites. So, the order, to avoid the appearance of favoritism, is strictly alphabetical…..
Guillermo Del Toro:
The Pan’s Labrynith director is on record in conversation with Robert Rodriguez as being a very big fan of Lee Marvin’s films. He told Rodriguez in a 2015 interview: “When I was a kid, my favorite movie, was a Lee Marvin movie. Lee Marvin, James Coburn, these were guys who were not handsome. They had real faces. Tough guys. One of my favorite movies was Emperor of the North [directed by] Robert Aldrich with Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. The fight at the end with the axe and the chain, it’s an amzing movie. I want that on the screen. I’m not interested in young people’s movies.” As a visionary director, the imagery he could lend to a film about Marvin is indeed intriguing.
The young upstart director of the surprise blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy has also stated his appreciation of Lee Marvin and that can only be a plus to what he might add to the mix. Okay, I admit I haven’t personally seen the film as I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the plethora of comic book-based movies that has infected the market of late. But, the fact that he had a surprise hit with the subject based mostly on his interpretation of the source material — at least from what I read, anyway — makes me optimisitc. The St. Louis native is a Troma Films alumni and didn’t make it into mainstream filmmaking until mainstream filmmaking became a little quirkier than it had been previously. Sort of like the way Lee Marvin didn’t become a leading man until the mid-sixites, when Hollywood morphed into the culture’s changing tastes. I like that.
This once prominent director (48 Hours, Streets of Fire, The Long Riders) and screenwriter (The Getaway, The Drowning Pool, Hickey & Boggs), might be considered less than up to the task as he is now in his 70s and has not had a mainstream hit in some time. I, however think otherwise. The director of Charles Bronson’s best vehicle, Hard Times, as well as several other gritty, muscular films, he’s on record as stating Point Blank was an inspiration for him in terms of its spare style and writing. Heavily influenced by European and Asian action films, Hill has said recently, “I hadn’t had a good-sized hit in quite a while. And, frankly, I went through a couple of experiences that left me pretty disgusted with it all, and I was thinking the time had passed. I was just sitting at home reading magazines and looking out the window….” A Lee Marvin biopic might be just the tonic.
We all know the Oscar-winning director started out as an actor — from The Andy Griffith Show to Happy Days — but do you know his connection to Lee Marvin? He costarred with him in the 1974 film, Spikes Gang, along with Gary Grimes and Charlie Martin Smith as Marvin’s young gang of neophyte bank robbers. Even more impressive, Howard, a gifted storyteller when it comes to film making, is on record as stating that Lee Marvin’s The Dirty Dozen turned him into a huge movie fan: “It was perfect. I was twelve, thirteen years old; going through puberty. Here was this totally macho rock ’em-sock ’em, heroic action movie — one of the best ‘mission’ movies ever made,…Everything about it, top to bottom, was cool. And it turned me on to the movies. In a lot of ways, it made me want to go to the movies every single week to try and have the kind of experience that would just take you away.” As far as I’m concerned, such enthusiasm can only enhance a Lee Marvin biopic.
The mastermind behind the Sons of Lee Marvin, director Jim Jarmusch has not been shy about his admiration for Marvin. Granted, the organization he founded with fellow Marvin fans Tom Waits, Nick Cave, etc. may be more fictional than fact (Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank no what I mean), but the admiration is undeniabe. As a filmmaker his work seems to drag at times, but a subject such as Marvin’s life & times may possibly change that. His New York underground ‘indie’ roots are still on display in his work but who knows? That may be a good thing. Ether way. he is defintely in the running.
Best known for resurrecting the Batman franchise with Christian Bale, this British filmmaker has also made some wonderfully intense and thoughtful thrillers, such as Memento and Insomnia that are head and shoulders above the Batman films. Although I grew up loving the original DC Comic (Jim Aparo & Neal Adams’ renderings being my favorites) I for one am not a fan of the rebooted franchise(s). I think Bale and many others were miscast . Nolan’s direction of the action scenes are so muddled that it’s almost impossible to keep track of who is pounding who. My thinking is that Nolan’s take on a Marvin biopic would be (hopefully) less like Batman and more like Insomnia.
In Part II the possibilites are continued with some less the obvious surprises. Stay tuned!