JIM JARMUSCH AND THE SONS OF LEE MARVIN

Picture this: I’m in the earliest stages of researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, standing in the middle of the public library, when I read the Film Comment article written by director Jim Jarmusch that reveals the first mention I’ve ever heard concerning the Sons of Lee Marvin. I was still slightly on the fence at the time about whether I should undertake the project at all, that is unti I read Jarmusch’s article.
Being a lifelong film buff I had read much about the legacy of film stars following their passing. The cult surrounding stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and others are well know to myself and the general public. Such reverence is often shown via film revivals, books and other venues. However, in all the years I have encountered such things I have never encountered anything as what Jarmusch talks about in his unveiling of the Sons Of Lee Marvin. It literally made me laugh out loud when he retold the anecdote concerning fellow member Tom Waits and the real son of Lee Marvin. I was shushed by the librarian and warned if I repeat the guffaw I’d be asked to leave. I acquiesced to the glares and stares of the other patrons but figured in my head, what the hell, it was worth it. My appreciation of Marvin expanded and my curiosity deepened. Quite simply, the more I found out about him, the more I liked him.
This article, by the way, was part of series in Film Comment in which film makers were asked to list their “Guilty Pleasures,” films they know are bad but they like anyway and with a given reason. Jarmusch dedicates one 10th of his entire list to his favorite Marvin films! So, without further ado, below is the original article that helped pushed me over the edge into dedicating myself to researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Oh, and by the way, the story about Waits and Christopher Marvin is pure b.s. but sounds great, doesn’t it? If you want to know the truth, from Christopher Marvin himself. you gotta read Lee Marvin Point Blank.

The original article by Jim Jarmusch in Film Comment.

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HAPPY 64TH BIRTHDAY TO SONS OF LEE MARVIN FOUNDER JIM JARMUSCH

Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are quite familiar with the connection indie film director Jim Jarmusch has to the legacy of Lee Marvin. Jarmusch turns 64 today and in honor of his birthday, allow me to recount the tale.

Cult director and Sons of Lee Marvin founder, Jim Jarmusch

Jarmusch has been avoiding mainstream success for decades by making and occasionally appearing in his own indie films (Mystery Train, Down by Law, Stranger Than Paradise, Dead Man, Ghost Dog, etc). He’s also an avowed Lee Marvin fan, dying his hair white in tribute. Consequently, when I was still in the earliest stages of research of Lee Marvin Point Blank, I came across his tale, or at least his version of it, of how his ‘secret’ organization, The Sons of Lee Marvin, came into existence. I was standing in the middle of the Buena Park Public Library perusing back issues of Film Comment magazine. They used to have a semi-regular column called “Guilty Pleasures,” in which renowned filmmakers detail their love of movies they know are not very good but they love them anyway. I was not yet fully sold on committing myself to a Lee Marvin bio, but when I read Jim Jarmusch’s account of how The Sons of Lee Marvin came to be as part of his column, I was shushed for laughing out loud. It helped sell me on the idea of the book as in all my years of reading and researching films and stars I have never come across such an amazing tale! I was hooked.
In the interim, I was to discover (and later join), a shadow organization known as the BSOL. How they came to be introduced to the real son of Lee Marvin is also an intriguing exclusive of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

The main logo for The Bastard Sons of Lee.

A logo for the more accessible organization known as the BSOL, sometimes seen in Pasadena’s Doo-Dah Parade.

But I digress. The point here is that like all talented filmmakers, even fiercely independent ones, like birthday boy Jarmusch, has a knack for creating mythology. I was to discover how much of a mythology it is when I ultimately met and made friends with Christopher Marvin, Lee’s actual son. As Lee Marvin Point Blank readers know, Jarmusch’s tale of Chris Marvin and Tom Waits is, how shall I say it? As our current POTUS has coined it, an “alternative fact.” To know the truth, read Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, enjoy this page from my research binder in which Jarmusch himself recounts the tale in his Film Comment article. Happy birthday Mr. J. and keep the mythology growing! Enjoy……

The original FILM COMMENT article in which Jim Jarmusch explains the formation of the Sons of Lee Marvin.

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BIOPIC: WHO COULD PLAY (OLDER) LEE MARVIN? PART II

BIOPIC

Okay, gang, here’s Part II of Who Could Play Lee Marvin, but this time around, the discussion concerns older actors who would play the older, more well-known Lee Marvin. Of course, it’s purely conjecture but it’s interesting to note that in the section in Lee Marvin Point Blank in which I consider some of the films Lee might have made, several of these actors do indeed pop up.

One in particular, who would have my vote if he were not 68 years old is the great Tommy Lee Jones. Alas, age has taken its toll on the wizened Oscar-winner, but there are other possibilities.
What must be kept in mind is not only the Marvin look, but the fact that Marvin was 6 foot, 3 inches, posessor of an amazing and resonant voice and one of the most original screen presences ever. Several more enligthened folks than myself have said that for these reasons NOBODY could play Marvin and perhaps they’re right. However, it’s fun to consider the possibilites as seen below….

Lee Marvin, in his prime, as a reference point...

Lee Marvin, in his prime, as a reference point…

To begin with (and again, this list of possible actors for a biopic is strictly alphabetical),

Australian-born rock singer, Nick Cave

Australian-born rock singer, Nick Cave

My personal choice, actor Thomas Haden Church

My personal choice, actor Thomas Haden Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Sons of Lee Marvin” charter member Nick Cave (there are several others on this list) is an Australian-born rock singer and Bad Seeds front man who is also 6’2″ and is currently 57 years old. The resemblance is striking but other than a few indie films he hasn’t done much acting…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My own personal choice, as well as that of my girlfriend, is actor Thomas Haden Church. Oscar-nominated for his role in Alexander Payne’s Sideways (2004), Church is a well-known character actor and fan favorite ever since his supporting role on the NBC sitcom “Wings.” He’s the youngest actor on this list at 55-years-old and stands 6 foot even. He also posesses a deep, resonant voice and his resemblance is striking.

Cult director and Sons of Lee Marvin founder, Jim Jarmusch

Cult director and Sons of Lee Marvin founder, Jim Jarmusch

 

 

 

 

Film director Jim Jarmusch may be one of the world’s biggest Lee Marvin’s fans. As the founder of the mysterious organization “The Sons of Lee Marvin” he keeps the flame alive with his fellow brethren and even bleached his hair white to maintain the resemeblance. According to Lee Marvin’s actual son, the late Christopher Marvin, much of what Jarmusch expounds on the secret group is more mythology than fact but it does keep the great man’s name out there. Besides his white hair, Jarmusch is also, like Lee, six foot, two inches tall. I wonder how he did that?

 

In 2011 playwright Nick Zagone mounted a production of his original play entitled, “Lee Marvin By They Name” in the city of Modesto, Calif. Veteran actor Jack Souza — who’s hieght and age eludes me — remains so far the only actor to acutally play Lee Marvin in a dramatic production, hence his inclusion here. Wish I could have seen it as the play itself, as graciously submitted to me by Zagone, is actually pretty good.

Regional actor Jack Souza shown in character as Lee in Nick Zagone's play "Lee Marvin Be Thy Name"

Regional actor Jack Souza shown in character as Lee in Nick Zagone’s play “Lee Marvin Be Thy Name”

Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton

Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton

 

 

 

 

A long time ago, I casually asked Lee Marvin’s first wife, Betty who she thinks could play Lee Marvin in a film. Her answer took me by surprise as it was none other than Billy Bob Thornton. She knew Marvin as well or better than anybody so I deign to her knowledge and experience in casting her vote for 59-year-old, five-foote-nine inch Thornton but for myself, I just don’t see it.

 

 

And then there’s singer/actor Tom Waits, also a charter member of The Sons of Lee Marvin. His run-in with Christopher Marvin is documented for the first time in Lee Marvin: Point Blank and it’s a version that makes more sense than Jim Jarmusch’s since Christopher played drums on Waits’ album, Mule Variations. Unfortunately, the six foot tall Waits is already 65-years-old and that famous whiskey rasp could never do justice…..

Singer/Actor Tom Waits

Singer/Actor Tom Waits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two last minute additions I completely forgot about and was recently reminded of AFTER posting this blog that absolutely MUST be considered and included. Thank you, Barbara and Claudia….

J.K. Simmons

J.K. Simmons

 

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston

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