PRE-STARDOM: LEE MARVIN & THE LADIES

Unlike other male film stars, Lee Marvin didn’t have many romantic entanglements in his films, as readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank are fully aware. When he became a leading star that changed only very slightly but it was even more true in his pre-stardom days.
Oh, he interacted with the opposite sex on screen but certainly not in the manner that normally befitted a future superstar. Take for example 1953’s The Big Heat, in which he played henchman, Vince Stone. His girlfriend, Debbie, was played by Gloria Grahame and anyone who has seen the film knows how their relationship winds up.

A self-satisfied Debbie (Gloria Grahame) hands the phone over to an impatient Vince Stone (Marvin) knowing it’s his boss after she just chided Stone for jumping whenever the big boss calls, in Fritz Lang’s THE BIG HEAT.

Of course Marvin’s chivalry towards the opposite sex is on display earlier in the film in how he treats Carolyn Jones and the way he offers her a cigarette. Talk about foreshadowing!

Then there’s the way Marvin’s aptly named Slob interacts with Terry Moore in the bizarre 1955 cult classic, Shack Out on 101. From the pre-credit prologue until the film’s finale,

Terry Moore as Cotty tries to deal with the advances of Slob in SHACK OUT ON 101.

Marvin and Moore’s way of dealing with each other is one of the highlights of the film. Terry Moore detailed the way in which Marvin threatened her on camera when I interviewed her for Lee Marvin Point Blank and she was delighted with the results. Less delighted was Donna Reed about her equally terrifying scene with Lee Marvin in Hangman’s Knot (1952). Her reaction delighted Marvin but certainly not her.
It seems the only time Marvin was allowed to be halfway human towards women was on television, in which his versatility was put to better than use than on film….

A tender moment with Patricia Donahue in The Last Reunion episode of the NBC anthology series, GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATRE.

As Lt. Frank Ballinger, Marvin has a uncharacteristically tender moment on his show M SQUAD.

Television notwithstanding, once viewers were able to attach a name to the familiar face, Lee Marvin was back in movie theaters enacting some typical love scenes…

As hired killer Charlie Strom, Lee Marvin gently persuades blind receptionist Virginia Christine  to divulge some vital infomation in Don Siegel’s THE KILLERS.

Vivien Leigh drives home her point to Lee Marvin in their heated debate concerning women’s shoe styles in Stanley Kramer’s SHIP OF FOOLS.

On the brink of major stardom in the early 1960s, Lee Marvin’s roles in such films as The Killers and Ship of Fools had him treating the opposite sex very much in keeping as he had throughout his pre-stardom years of the 1950s. By the end of the 1960s, however, he was an undeniable superstar, in the clinches with the likes of Jane Fonda, Jeanne Moreau and the ever present Angie Dickinson. How did he deal with these ladies on camera as well as off? The subject of the next blog entry….and a good portion of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein

 

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MOVIE TIE-IN PAPERBACKS TO LEE MARVIN’S EARLIEST FILMS

Paperback Tie-ins
Ahh, Hollywood. If it’s ever possible to make a few extra sheckels via promotional ideas connected to a project, rest assured the studios will do it. A good example is the now quicky fading movie tie-in paperback, a former staple in bookstores, revolving drugstore book racks, bus stations, you name it!
Below are several examples of movie tie-in paperbacks to Lee Marvin projects even before he was a known entity.

heatviolent

Reissue covers of The Big Heat & Violent Saturday paperbacks.

Lee Marvin had important, scene-stealing roles in both The Big Heat (1953) and Violent Saturday (1955,) but you’d never know it from the pulp noir covers shown above.

 

Raintree County (1957) and the excellent Seven Men From Now (1956) also featured excellent Marvin performances but since he was yet to be established, his name are image is nowhere to be found. Author Burt Kennedy, by the way, wrote the screenplay for Seven Men From Now and would go on to become a noted western film director.

raintreeseven

Movie Tie-in Paperback covers of Raintree County & Seven Men From Now

 

msquadconfidential

Paperback covers for M Squad & Hollywood Confidential, featuring profile of Lee Marvin

 

When film success proved elusive, Marvin went to television and starred and co-produced the successful crime drama, M Squad. (1957-1960). The recognition resulted in such media attention as the tabloid collection shown above in which Marvin gave one of his most revealing interviews.

 

valancecomanchero

Movie tie-in paperback covers for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance & The Comancheros

By the early 1960s, film stardom was still out of his grasp but he did make impressive appearances in the John Wayne films The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and The Comancheros (1961) as shown above. Even his name was mentioned on the covers! Liberty Valance was an original story by Dorothy M. Johnson (“A Man Called Horse”)  but the paperback was novelized by the film’s screenwriter and frequent John Ford cohort, James Warner Bellah. Go figure.

 

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