Marvin Movie Quotes
As many fans know by seeing his films and reading Lee Marvin: Point Blank, Marvin had a unique ability to make memorable lines of dialogue in a film eminently quotable. Even in the earliest stages of his career, his resonant voice and often sarcastic delivery made Marvin movie quotes stand out from the rest of the cast and even the basic premise of the film. Personal friends and associates noted the same thing when viewing his films.

Lee Marvin (“Meatball”) and Claude Akins (“Horrible”) in Edward Dymytrk’s The Caine Mutiny (1954).

Take for example his almost throw-away line in The Caine Mutiny uttered when he and fellow sailor Claude Akins are carrying some heavy equipment through a passageway on ship and want to clear the decks:

“Lady with a baby, coming through!”

Adolph Heckeroth, Marvin’s boss at Heckeroth’s Plumbing in Woodstock, had a son, Bill, who took over the company, and remembered the line (and his father’s former employee) so well, he said he repeated constantly at work whenever he needed to clear the area.

During a conversation with Marvin’s son, Christopher, another one of the great Marvin movie quotes came into play. I was helping him do some gardening when a weed seemed a little harder to remove than first thought. Automatically, we both uttered the same line his father said to one-armed Spencer Tracy when their two characters first met in Bad Day at a Black Rock:

Henchmen Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin watch as Spencer Tracy gets off the train and prepare to confront him in John Sturges’ Bad Day at a Black Rock (1955).

“You look like you could use a hand.”
The laughter and high-fives continued for some time after.

And then there’s his less than stellar film and performance in the all-star cast 3-D opus Gorilla at Large (1954). Marvin’s good friend from his Woodstock days, David Ballantine  told me with tongue planted firmly in cheek that he considered it Marvin’s greatest role. Ballantine told me that his friend’s role as Officer Shaunessey, charged with keeping an eye on the title character, remains his favorite because….well, you’ll have to read Lee Marvin Point Blank to find that out. In the mean time, there’s this memorable Marvin line of dialogue given the weighty dramatic delivery it deserves….

Lee Marvin utters his memorable line to Lee J. Cobb in Gorilla at Large (1954).

“They haven’t made a gorilla yet that can out smart, Shaunessey!”

Hey, any actor can do Shakespeare but let’s hear Olivier bellow out that beauty!
– Dwayne Epstein



Some of the many comments I’ve receive from folks who have read Lee Marvin Point Blank concerns his drinking. There are some who understandably enjoyed his more humorous exploits during those less informed and politically incorrect times. Others have said it changed their opinion of the actor and not for the better. For myself, in doing the research for the book, so many of those stories not only took a much darker tone, I also discovered how distasteful dealing with these incidents had become. After a while, it became downright morbid and forced me to make a conscious decision about it. Instead of constantly ticking off such events in the man’s life, I chose to only include particular stories or events that shed some light on the man’s character. In doing so, I think the result was more enlightening, but of course, there were still some readers who felt shorted, or worse, still thought I over-emphasized the problem simply by the inclusion. Just goes to show, you can’t please everybody.
With that in mind, I found a few images from my research of Lee imbibing that did not make the book but is  included here…or what’s a blogosphere for?

A 15-year-old Lee Marvin (far left) and friends at New York's 1939 World's Fair.

A 15-year-old Lee Marvin (far left) and friends at New York’s 1939 World’s Fair.

The first photo, which to my knowledge has not been previously published, shows a barely in his teens Lee Marvin with some friends enjoying beer and cigarettes at the NY World’s Fair. Since the fair ran from April of 1939 to October 1940, one can only assume Marvin & company went during the summer when school was out. Of course, with Marvin’s academic history, drinking beer and smoking would be a minor consideration for him if he had already ditched class for the day.

Some time in the late 50s, Lee Marvin holds court behind his home bar while wife Betty holds her gaze on her husband's intake.

Some time in the late 50s in their Uplifters Ranch home, Lee Marvin holds court behind his bar while wife Betty (far right) holds her gaze on her husband’s intake.

When Lee and Betty Marvin married and eventually bought a house for their growing family, it was in an area of Santa Monica known as “The Uplifter’s Ranch,” whose history was as colorful as its name. Established in 1913 by several wealthy (and well known) gentlemen, according to Betty Marvin: “The old Uplifters Ranch, it was in the early days, remember the producer Sam Briskin? That era. He had our house. It was a men’s club, a private club for people in the business. They were log cabins and before Will Rogers had polo fields, there were pole fields down below. The men would all go there without their wives and they would play polo and they would drink and play bridge and go crazy. It was a wild club. They had a big pool and stuff. Anyway, Sam Briskin’s wife, and the women found a way to get in. They put up curtains and such…When I found this house it was a mess. Berle, her name was, Johnny Weismuller’s wife, they had all those boys and the place was filthy, chewing gum on the walls. But the bones of the house was great. The architecture was wonderful. When we went there, there was still potholes in the road. It was a private road even though out of spite one of the last widows gave the property to the city so it became a city park. Nobody knew it because there was only one entrance and exit. It was a city park but we still the owned the road in front and half the road in back. No one used it except the kids of the neighborhood and the bus stopped across the street to the little old schoolhouse down the hill….An acre of land with these big old oak trees and avocado trees. It was wonderful. It was so right for us…” And so, The Uplifters Ranch. Not that he needed one but the history proved a perfect place for Lee to imbibe, under his wife’s watchful eye.

Late 1960s: Lee (seated), his father Monte (center) and brother Robert (right) settle an argument in Marvin Woodstock home.

Late 1960s: Lee (seated), his father Monte (center) and brother Robert (right) settle an argument in Marvin Woodstock home.

A little later in life, Lee visited his family in Woodstock for the holidays and is pictured with his brother and father in the 1960s (judging by the actor’s hair), as they peruse an atlas to settle a disagreement. Also, you don’t often see Lee Marvin wearing reading glasses. So, why is this picture included? If you examine the photo a little closer, you might notice the glass on the edge of the end table. It is doubtful the clear liquid is water, probably closer to gin or vodka. It certainly would be the case, if only having to deal with the pajamas that inebriated Robert is wearing.



Since March 20th, was the first day of Spring (although you’d never know it by some of the weather across the country), I thought I’d add something appropriate for the time of the year, that naturally includes Lee Marvin.
As I’ve stated previously, I was extremely fortunate in my research for Lee Marvin Point Blank to be able to get Lee’s older brother, Robert, to open up to me. It wasn’t easy at first, as he had never done so before, but once he did, the results were incredible. I genuinely believe it’s one of the many encounters that has made the book a better portrait of the man than anything else that has been published about him before. Robert allowed me full and unfettered access, and whenever I found a new archival treasure, I brought it to him to get the story behind it. The overwheleming majority of these discoveries can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin: Point Blank as we sat for hours on end with him regaling me with amazing tales with a tape recorder between us. In fact, his wife Joan asked me at one point, “What are you and Robert talking about so much?” I answered truthfully, “Just his childhood and life with Lee.” She then paid me a wonderful compliment by stating, “I only asked because I have not heard Robert laugh so much in years!”

In Woodstock back in the mid-90s as Lee Marvin's brother Robert drives home a point to me during Sunday Brunc. I know it's Sunday as he's wearing a tie, as he said his mother always told him to do on Sundays.

In Woodstock back in the mid-90s, as Lee Marvin’s brother, Robert, drives home a point to me during Sunday brunch. I know it’s Sunday because he’s wearing a tie, as he said his mother always told him to do on Sundays.

One of the best parts was showing him pictures, such as the montage of photos shown below. To be present as he laughed or teared up over the long-forgotten images cannot be duplicated in words. I can, however, add the following transcript of our conversation…..

Dwayne: Was this Halloween, this shot of you and Lee and your mother?
Robert: That’s out in Jackson Heights. Look at the hat my mother is wearing. Isn’t that something? That was the way the girls dressed. That was the style and it looked pretty good, too. That was the Spanish Gardens Apts. It still exists too, I think.
D: Was that where you lived? (nods) Was that the name of the complex…
R: Yes it was.
D: Let me ask you a tough question. I’m assuming you were dressed for Halloween. What were you guys dressed up as? Do you recall?
R: I’d be a scarecrow…maybe its Thanksgiving. My brother’s dressed as, I suppose, a green pea, maybe. No, wait a minute! It was a Spring celebration at school so it must have been like March, or something like that.
D: School pageant kind of thing. Look at that chubby face on Lee.
R: And my dear mother. God.
D: Pretty cool, huh? You’re lucky you have this stuff. Some families don’t even have these.

Top pictures from the left: Young Lee Marvin (left) holds his mother Courtenay's hand along with older brother Robert (right). On the right, both Marvin brothers are smiling for their fathers camera. Bottom pictures: Lee's parents, Courtenay and Monte Marvin, smile in front of their Spanish Gardens apt. in Queens N.Y. On the right, a much happier Lee 'Green Bean' Marvin smiles for the camera.

Top pictures from the left: Young Lee Marvin (left) holds his mother Courtenay’s hand along with older brother Robert (right). On the right, both Marvin brothers are smiling for their fathers camera.
Bottom pictures: Lee’s parents, Courtenay and Monte Marvin, smile in front of their Spanish Gardens apt. in Queens N.Y. On the right, a much happier Lee ‘Green Bean’ Marvin smiles for the camera.