Domestic Lee Marvin is not something witnessed onscreen very often. Even more scarce is Father Lee. However, this being Fathers Day, it’s a good time to explore those rare occasions of domestic Lee in which, to my mind, only occurred twice on film and in both instances, they were not the classics the filmmakers intended.

A rare domestic Lee shown in THE KLANSMAN (1974) with Wendell Wellman playing his son Alan and Richard Burton as neighbor Breck Stencill.

In The Klansman, he’s Sheriff “Big” Trak Bascomb, married with a grown son preparing for college. A simple side plot to the rather unsavory and racially charged film that’s probably the worst film Marvin ever starred in, with costar Richard Burton fairing even worse. Unfortunately, the originally script by Sam Fuller was truncated which is a shame since it had a devastating un-filmed sequence in it involving Marvin’s son Alan Bascomb that I was able to get a copy of and write about here. In any event, the less said about the embarrassing film, the better.

(L-R) Lee Marvin as Flynn O’Flynn protects and defend daughter Barbara Parkins in SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (1976).

The other instance of Marvin playing a paternal character was the action/adventure film from AIP entitled Shout at the Devil. Costarring Roger Moore and Ian Holm, the film takes place in WWI-era Africa with Marvin as a big game poacher protecting daughter Barbara Parkins and battling her betrothed (Moore), as well as the Germans, in this weak entry in the actor’s canon of films.
Obviously, the type of films Marvin made did not often make for a domestic Lee audiences could appreciate. He played married characters in The Professionals (1966) in the film’s back story as well as in Point Blank (1967). In both films, however, his spouses did not fair well, in the screenplay.
There were instances in which characters in his films acted paternally towards supporting characters, such as the gentle way in which treated Sissy Spacek in Prime Cut (1972) and the mentoring he administered to the novice bank thieves of Spikes Gang (1974).
These symbolic examples aside, Lee Marvin was just not cut out for domestic bliss, once again, on screen and off. Of his four grown children, none of them were willing to go on the record with me for Lee Marvin Point Blank with the sole exception being his son, Christopher. His poignant afterword was a worthy and surprising addition to the text. So, with Fathers Day in mind, feel free to check out the book’s afterword and then watch a better Lee Marvin movie to enjoy.
With dad, of course.
– Dwayne Epstein


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2 thoughts on “DOMESTIC LEE

  1. Hi Dwayne,
    There’s only one film of his that I could never see again, and I wish he had never made, and that is “Dog Day”, because it’s just too dirty for me. But that’s not the reason for my commenting today.

    I think I have another domestic suggestion, like an “extra” no-lines scene. The 1952 film “We’re Not Married”. At the start of his segment which stars Eddie Bracken and Mitzi Gaynor, the train station platform shows the G.I.’s saying goodbye to their families/girlfriends. I think Lee is the guy holding the little girl with a boy and wife-like figure standing before him. Then of course, this character boards the train, and into a speaking part.

    • Hi Shawn,
      Good to hear from you again and as always, thanks for your response. I agree with you of course about DOG DAY as its distasteful European sensibilties made me want to take a shower after viewing it, despite Marvin’s presence.
      As to Lee’s presence in WE’RE NOT MARRIED, he’s actually more than just an extra with lines as he’s (20th) billed in the film and his character is named ‘Pinky.’ He has one of the best lines in the film when tells Bracken that his kid should not grow up to an ‘oddball.’
      While it’s true other characters he’s played in films may or may not have been married, I tried to focus on projects in which his marital status is known. I didn’t include the likes of SGT. RYKER in which Vera Miles played his wife as that was made for TV and later released in theaters. It’s also likely that he and Dorothy Lamour probably got hitched in DONOVAN’S REEF but it wasn’t shown on screen, just assumed by the viewer.
      Again, thanks for your response and all the best,

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