THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY REFERENCES LEE MARVIN

The Lincoln Highway, a recently published bestselling novel by Amor Towles, references Lee Marvin in an early part of the story. The story takes place in the 1950s and concerns four unfortunate juvenile delinquents attempt to return to their small hometown in Nebraska, only to be forced to go to New York City. Early on, one of the main characters encounters a fight and the author approaches it this way:

“Alan Ladd in Shane.
Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity.
Lee Marvin in The Wild One.
You know what these three have in common? They all took a beating. I don’t mean getting a pop in the nose or having the wind knocked out of them. I mean a beating. Where their ears rang, and their eyes watered, and they could taste the blood on their teeth. Ladd took his at Grafton’s Saloon from Ryker’s boys. Sinatra took his in the stockade from Sergeant Fatso. And Marvin, he took his at the hands of Marlon Brando in the street of a little American town just like this one, with another crowd of honest citizens gathered around to watch.” 


Believe it or not, The Lincoln Highway is not the only bestseller to reference a Lee Marvin film. While researching Lee Marvin Point Blank I was made aware of an an ever better example. Author James Michener gave praise to Monte Walsh (1970) in his popular 1976 novel, Centennial: 

“‘Have no fear [a character says]. I’m taking you to a masterpiece.’ And he dd. Monte Walsh, a low-budget picture starring Lee Mavin Jack Palance and Jeanne Moreau, unfolded with such simplicity, such heart-tripping reality, that a strange mood developed. Everyone who had any knowledge of the Old West sat transfixed by the memories the film engendered, but those who had known the religion only secondhand felt irritated at the wasted evening. Masterpieces are like that; they require an active participation and offer nothing to those who are unwilling to contribute.”

It never ceases to amaze me how much influence the work of Lee Marvin has had on popular culture, both retro and contemporary. Of course if you want to know why he’s still so influential, read Lee Marvin Point Blank.

– Dwayne Epstein

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A FISTFUL OF LOVE

“A Fistful of Love,” an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aired January 2, 1959 starring Lee Marvin, proving the actor’s amazing versatility in a poignant tale of an aging boxer.

Lee Marvin as boxer Pete “The Pittsburgh Kid” Pulaski in A FISTFUL OF LOVE.

it’s a simple yet elegiac tale told very much in the style of Rod Serling’s groundbreaking TV and movie script for “Requiem For A Heavyweight,” which aired live in 1956 and later filmed in 1962. In fact, the stylized opening to “A Fistful” is almost identical to Requiem For A Heavyweight
  When I was researching Lee Marvin Point Blank I was amazed to discover the depth and breadth of the actor’s TV work. He proved infinitely more versatile on the small screen than he ever was on the big screen. Even when it came to military-themed stories, as the only time he ever portrayed Marine (which he was in real-life) was on television. Consequently, I devoted an entire chapter just to his TV appearances.
  At the time he appeared on “Fistful” it was during the golden age of television in which anthology programs were sponsored by large corporations that cranked out dozens of unique stand-alone stories without recurring characters. As a result, the quality ultimately suffered. Veteran TV and film director put it best when he said to me, “You must understand that anthology TV is a very difficult form. The canvas is very small in which to develop. Consequently, it wasn’t very good unless you were doing sci-fi or something of that nature. Audiences had to latch on in Scene 1, Act 1 with the character. That’s why anthology never worked. The successful shows were rare ones.” Martinson’s concept probably explains the longevity of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” 
  Several of the supporting cast may look familiar. Marvin, portraying a boxer named Pete Pulaski, aka ‘The Pittsburgh Kid,” is managed by Buddy Lester, probably best known for his appearances in several Jerry Lewis movies. Speaking of Jerry Lewis movies, Pulaski’s trainer is the rotund character actor Stanley Addams. Addams was a friend and neighbor of Lee and Betty Marvin best known for playing Lewis’s bellicose boss in The Errand Boy (1961). 
Written and directed by veteran Allen Miner, he probably got Marvin to do the show based on having written directed several episodes of “M Squad,” which Marvin co-produced. So, with all that in mind, return for a moment to early 1959 and the black and white city realm of a boxer’s faded glory. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein


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JOHNNY CARSON, LEE MARVIN, JUNE, 1980

Johnny Carson, the once and future king of late night talk shows, had Lee Marvin on The Tonight Show as a guest fairly frequently whenever the actor was promoting an upcoming project. In the summer of 1980, he did just that when The Big Red One was about to be released (the clip they show of it is terrific!)

Lee Marvin’s dapper entrance on Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW gives his customary greeting to Doc Severinsen and the band.

I discovered the entire show was posted on YouTube thanks to frequent blog follower, Shawn Marengo, god bless her. As she aptly pointed out to me, Marvin looked quite dapper in his 3-piece, apparently custom-made suit. May have been one of the handful of suits he purchased for the infamous palimony suit, according to his lawyer, David Kagon.

Screen grab showing Johnny Carson & Lee Marvin discussing THE BIG RED ONE.

Marvin and Carson were good friends, although I don’t know if they ever socialized outside of the show. Not that it matters as they have a very easy report with each other, as shown in the way Marvin subtlety corrects Carson on the pronunciation of the film’s title. They also joke amusingly about WWII reunions with former Marine Colonel Ed McMahon brought into the conversation. Marvin does fib a bit when he says he never goes to such reunions as his first wife gave details of his presence at such reunions to this author in Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Since the show was still in its one and a half hour format, feel free to do as I did and skip over the segment of Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes to get to Lee Marvin at around the 51 minute mark. Ironically, although he probably isn’t aware of it, Marvin’s good friend James Whitmore is in a commercial during his segment to hawk dog food. There’s also a humorous segment with Buck Henry that Marvin sticks around to participate in. Remember when talk show guests used to do that?

Anyway, without further ado, I give you The Tonight Show, circa June 25, 1980. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein

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