Lee Marvin’s star finally ascended when he was in his 40s and the promotional material for his films, such as paperback movie tie-ins, prove it. Below are more examples….
As detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank, Roy Chanslor’s novel The Ballad of Cat Ballou (above left) was kicking around Hollywood for some time before it was finally changed and turned into a comedy farce with Lee and Jane Fonda in 1965. Hollywood provided the appropriate imagery on the cover to sell books. Frank O’Roarke’s A Mule For Marquesa was also changed when it made it to the screen in 1966. Writer/Director Richard Brooks offered it to Burt Lancaster & Marvin. Marvin loved it but when Lancaster read it, he thought he’d be playing the Marvin role. Brooks said he’d be boring in that role so Lancaster would be playing the dynamite expert. “I read the book and there’s no dynamite expert in it,” Lancaster reportedly told Brooks. “There will be when I’m done with it,” Brooks responded.
Marvin closed out the decade with the poorly received Paint Your Wagon (1969) which time has been more kind to than when it first came out. The same can be said for Point Blank (1967) which has become so popular with the passing of time, it resulted in this post-release tie-in in the 80s from Britain, shown above right.
According to costars Dwayne Hickman and Michael Callan (both of whom are interviewed and quoted extensively in Lee Marvin Point Blank), during the time that Lee Marvin & Jane Fonda worked together on Cat Ballou, they did not get along or care for each other very much. Jane Fonda thought the actor a boor who did not take acting seriously and Marvin thought her the spoiled Hollywood daughter of Henry.
Time has a way of changing one’s perspective as Jane Fonda wrote in her memoir:
“Cat Ballou was a relatively low-budget undertaking. It seemed we’d never do two takes unless the camera broke down. The producers had us working overtime day after day, until one morning Lee Marvin took me aside. “Jane,” he said, “we’re the stars of this movie. If we let the producers walk all over us, if we don’t stand up for ourselves, you know who suffers most? The crew. The guys who don’t have the power we do to say, ‘Shit, no, we’re workin’ too hard.’ You have to get some backbone, girl. Learn to say no when they ask you to keep working.” I will always remember Lee for that important lesson.” [My Life So Far. NY: Random House, 2006. page 161]
Below is a scanned picture from a 1965 Life magazine article profiling Marvin at the time of Cat Ballou’s release in which, despite the polite demeanor, the differences between the two actors could not be more obvious….