Dick Cavett, not quite the ‘King of Late Night’ that Johnny Carson was, actually gave Carson a run for his money for a while there in the talk show wars of the 60s and 70s. A former writer for Carson, his style was a little more urbane and his guests slightly more intellectual than Carson’s usual array of Carl Sagan and Charo or Merv Griffin’s infamous ‘theme shows’. Cavett sometimes had headline making events on his show, such as the feud that happened live on the air between Norman Mailer and Gore VIdal, or the time Yippie co-founder Jerry Rubin punched redneck Governor, Lester Maddox.
Screen grab of Lee Marvin’s appearance on the old Dick Cavett show, circa 1970.
Personally, I liked the show best when Dick Cavett went one-on-one with such guests as Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn or Marlon Brando for the entire episode. Recently, I discovered a YouTube video of Cavett doing just that with Lee Marvin, although it was only a segment and not the full episode. That aside, it’s a wonderful time capsule capturing Marvin had the height of his cinematic popularity. He comes off contemplative, naturally humorous and in appearance, every inch a charismatic movie star. Cavett actually seems a little nervous talking with Marvin but then again, that’s not surprising based on how imposing Marvin looks next to him.
In watching the clip, it’s a little startling to see how much Marvin smoked at the time. That and his drinking would of course wreak havoc in a fairly short time, as shown in another interview with co-star Charles Bronson.
Oh, one more thing. Watch the short clip to the end when Marvin surprises his host and audience with his amazing candor concerning his war wound. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank were able to read some of the letters he spoke of concerning his mother’s reaction to his getting wounded.
All that said, here now is a wonderful blast from the past. I give you Lee Marvin, circa 1970…
When a high-profile magazine, such as Esquire, wants to sell copies of their latest issue back in 1970, they put the biggest star in the world on its cover (Lee Marvin Point Blank, p. 175). It would be natural to assume that would mean this same big star would be profiled within its covers. The magazine, which at the time measured a whopping 10×13, had a caption that would lead the reader to believe it as well. “Evil lurks in California. Lee Marvin is afraid. See page 99,” Okay, turn to page 99 and what’s to be found? On page 99 you find the beginning o a multi-layered article on why evil does indeed lurk in California. At that moment in time it meant the Manson family, the murder of Robert F. Kennedy and a slew of other well-known atrocites. Keep in mind, this is the same magazine that thought it would be cute to have a cover photo of Lt. John Calley smiling as he’s shown surrounded by a group of Vietnamese children and villagers.
In any event, Marvin may indeed have been afraid, but you’d never know it from Esquire…or from the cover photo!
Monte Walsh remains one of Lee Marvin’s best yet least seen films. I was extremely fortunate to interview co-stars Jack Palance and Mitchell Ryan about the making of the film and it’s all in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
The wonderful score by John Barry (Lyrics by Hal David) with the song “The Good Times Are Comin'”sung by the wonderful Cass Elliot (she hated being called ‘Mama Cass’) underscores the elegiac quality of this sadly forgotten western and one of the best films in Lee Marvin’s career that sets the mood of the film from the outset, as it should be. Give a listen…