DISCOVERING LEE MARVIN’S 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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TOP TEN LIST OF THINGS YOU CAN LEARN IN LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK

"Alright, dude, are you man enough for Lee Marvin: PointBlank?"

“Alright, dude, are you man enough for Lee Marvin: PointBlank?”

Top Ten List:
What are the top ten things (at the very least) you can learn about Lee Marvin by reading Lee Marvin: Point Blank? This particular Top Ten list, partial at best, is below. The answers, in narrative form, are in the book, which naturally you are MOST encouraged to check out…..

1. DESPITE A POPULAR URBAN LEGEND, LEE MARVIN AND BOB (CAPTAIN KANGAROO) KEESHAN IN NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM KNEW EACH OTHER IN THE USMC DURING WWII….OR MR. ROGERS, EITHER.

2. THE ACTUAL OUTCOME OF THE INFAMOUS PALIMONY CASE THAT IS STILL MISUNDERSTOOD TO THIS DAY. READERS ARE OFTEN SURPRISED NOT ONLY BY THE OUTCOME BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO MICHELE TRIOLA THE DAY THE VERDICT WAS HANDED DOWN.

3. LEE MARVIN’S LIFE-LONG LOVE AFFAIR WITH A PARTICULAR KIND OF MUSIC YOU WOULD NOT HAVE GUESSED IN A MILLION YEARS! I KNOW I DIDN’T BUT IT WAS CONFIRMED BY HIS WIFE, SON, FRIENDS AND CO-WORKERS. STORIES ABOUND BOTH FUNNY AND POIGNANT AS TO WHY AND HOW HE LOVED THIS PARTICULAR GENRE.

4. IN SPITE OF THE TYPE OF FILMS HE MADE, THE PERSONAL POLITICS OF LEE MARVIN IS OFTEN A BIG SURPRISE TO MANY OF HIS FANS.

5. HE WAS TRAINED IN SHAKESPEARE AND WOULD QUOTE THE BARD WHENEVER THE MOOD STRUCK HIM.

6. HIS LIFE IN WOODSTOCK AFTER THE WAR LONG BEFORE THE FAMOUS CONCERT AND THE TRUE STORY OF HOW HE GOT HIS ACTING START THERE. UNLIKE CONTEMPORARY ACTION STARS, HIS TRAINING EVENTUALLY GOT HIM TO THE BROADWAY STAGE.

7. HIS EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF HIS EXPERIENCE IN WWII AS IT HAPPENED THRU NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN LETTERS HE WROTE HOME TO FAMILY & FRIENDS AT THE TIME!

8. WAS NOT ASKED TO LEAVE ST. LEO ACADEMY FOR BOYS IN FLORIDA, AND, WAS IN FACT, GIVEN AN HONORAY DEGREE IN 1969 BY HIS MENTOR AND TEACHER.

9. THE ACTUAL FATE OF HIS GREAT UNCLE ROSS MARVIN, WHO DIED DURING THE PEARY EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH POLE THAT EVEN LEE MARVIN HIMSELF NEVER KNEW.

10. WHAT HE REALLY THOUGHT OF SUCH FAMOUS COSTARS AS RONALD REAGAN, CHARLES BRONSON, MARLON BRANDO, BURT LANCASTER, PAUL NEWMAN AND MORE!

11. HOW HE CREATED THE MODERN AMERICAN CINEMA OF VIOLENCE
Okay so there’s 11 instead of ten. There’s actually a WHOLE lot more exclusive info from my nearly 20 years of research on Lee Marvin’s life and career. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention!
Lee Marvin: Point Blank by Dwayne Epstein (cover)

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THE ARTOF WAR: PART II

In Part II of The Art of War, the imagery of actual warfare deepens. The artists experiences of WWII are even more graphic as they themselves plunge into actual combat. The source of these images are from a JUXTAPOZ article a few years back which detailed what the artists went through, as explained by author Annie Tucker:
“Imagine how different from the norm the creative process must have been for these artists, stripped of all the creature comforts that a typical studio houses and outfitted instead with sketchbooks, a few pencils, and about 60 pounds of military equipment apiece. In the midst of complete chaos — freezing cold or brutally hot weather, bullets whizzing by their heads, bombs exploding and men dying al around them — they couldn’t shake a burning commitment to let their fellow Americans in on what was really happening, without sugar-coating or glamorizing it in the form of PG-rated adaptations of events, including (as many movies would have us believe) as many pin-up girls, card games, and good laughs as actual combat. The artists wanted the civilians viewing their work to know that war is blood and guts and pain. It’s emotional heartbreak and desperation and missing your family. It’s seeing dead bodies with high school rings on their fingers and having men collapse in tears in your arms.”

 

 

 

 

Some artists, unable to ask their subject to stand still and pose, rendered such quick sketches as the following….

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Untitled Sketches by Eby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The painting entitled The Price, is a stark example of that experience, one Lee Marvin witnessed on a regular basis while fighting in the jungles of the Pacific Theater of Operation.  The image, reprinted in the coffee table book, LIFE Goes to War, included the following caption: “With the Marines on Peleliu, LIFE artists Tom Lea painted frightful scenes. This Marine had just landed. ‘Something exploded,’ Lea wrote. ‘He scrambled up from the ground as if embarrassed. He looked at his left arm and stumbled back to the beach. He never fired a shot.'”

ThePrice

HiVisibilty

Hi Visibilty Wrap by Hirsch

 

 

 

 

 

On occasion, the subject had no choice but stand still for the artist, at least briefly….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stare

1,000 yard Stare by Lea

 

 

 

 

The damage inflicted in warfare goes beyond just the physical. The Marines called the look ‘The Gooney-Bird Stare.’ Artist Tom Lea dubbed it the 1,000 Yard Stare, and with good reason…
“Battle fatigue hollows the eyes of a Marine at Bloody Nose Ridge. Lea recalled: “Last evening he came down out of the hills. He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. He gouges Japs out of holes each day. Two thirds of his company has been killed, but he is still standing. So he will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?'”

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