Lee Marvin Movie Quotes
Writing and researching Lee Marvin Point Blank allowed me good reason to watch ALL of his films and on occasion, he proved to be the best thing to watch. Take for example his official film debut, You’re in the Navy Now (1951) with legendary actor, Gary Cooper.  Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know how he got the handful of lines he spoke in the movie and its a pretty amusing story, thanks to the chutzpah of his acquired agent, Meyer Mishkin. The very fact that he spoke on screen for the first time makes it worthy of some memorable Lee Marvin movie quotes.

Top image shows Marvin waiting to go on camera while bottom image shows hm with costars Gary Cooper and Jack Webb.

Director Henry Hathaway cast Marvin initially as an extra, allowing him to appear throughout the film as a crew member, in this case, the radio operator. Marvin later claimed him he did the voices of 5 other characters offscreen in which he actually talked to himself! Other actors also made their debut in the film, including future Marvin costar, Charles Bronson. Bronson had a bigger role in the flop later retitled USS Teakettle. Marvin’s first words on camera? “Sorry, captain. I can’t get a rise out of them.”

Another example of Marvin’s early, albeit small contribution to film was in the all-star comedy We’re Not Married (1952). Played out like an episode of Love, American Style, it told the tale of 5 different marriages discovering that the clergyman (Victor Moore) who married them was not ordained. The film boasted the likes of Ginger Rogers, Fred Allen, Eve Arden, Paul Douglas, Louis Calhern, Eva Gabor, and a young Marilyn Monroe married to David Wayne (!). The last segment starred Eddie Bracken married to Mitzi Gaynor, who is pregnant with his child but Bracken is going overseas with his Army unit. It being the 1950s, the dilemma of Bracken’s offspring not being legitimate is a major crisis. Since it is the 50s, Bracken’s buddy, Lee Marvin, informs the C.O. that, “He don’t want his kid to be no oddball.”

Marvin & Bracken in the final segment of WE’RE NOT MARRIED.

Don’t you just love that 1950s euphemism for bastard? It’s one of my personal favorite Lee Marvin movie quotes.

And then there’s The Wild One.

Marlon Brando as Johnny and Lee Marvin as Chino in the world’s 1st biker movie, THE WILD ONE (That’s cult legend Tim Carey smiling behind Marvin).

Marvin comes in the middle of the film and commits grand larceny in his scenes with then red hot 50s icon, Marlon Brando. Everything Marvin says and does in the classic is memorable, from his entrance (waving like the prom queen on his chopper as he and his gang ride into town) to his final scene sneaking out of jail when no one is looking. I was lucky to find a letter he wrote his brother before the film was cast and his take on the project is reprinted in its entirety in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Hard to pick a favorite line of his as they’re all delivered brilliantly (“Call my old lady and tell her I’m in the can! Oh, the shame of it all!”) But the one I like best is the one with cultural resonance. When Marvin tells Brando: “We miss ya, Johnny. All the Beetles miss ya.” Apparently another ‘Johnny’ liked that line, too. Any guesses?
– Dwayne Epstein


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Despite the publication Lee Marvin Point Blank back in 2013, every now and again I still come across some frustratingly incorrect information regarding Lee Marvin and his career. The most recent example is an old film encyclopedia entry that is both snarky and incorrect in its facts. It came out around the time of Marvin’s breakthrough success in both Cat Ballou and Ship of Fools.
Granted, in the grand scheme of things, to paraphrase Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge, it doesn’t matter a flea’s fart in a windstorm but it is aggravating to one such as I when having devoted nearly two decades to researching the man’s life and work! What grinds my gears is such snarky statements as his Oscar win being for “One of the most trivial roles in his career.” And that’s the introductory paragraph!  It then goes on to state that Lee played football while attending St. Leo (he didn’t) and that he didn’t do any drama at St. Leo (he did). It talks of his wanting to work on Wall Street, that Henry Hathaway saw him on TV and then wanted him for You’re In the Navy Now, that the role of Kid Shellen was ‘barely’ written….Ugh! It’s enough to drive a film historian  to sobriety!
Don’t just take my word for it. Read the entry below compared to the work I did in Lee Marvin Point Blank and see for yourself. I’m surprised they didn’t mention that Bob “Captain Kangaroo” Keeshan saved Lee’s life in WWII. Yeah, it’s that bad….

No, it's not Boris Karloff. It's Lee Marvin in a p.r. still from SHIP OF FOOLS (1965) used as an image for the film encyclopedia's entry on the actor.

No, it’s not Boris Karloff. It’s Lee Marvin in a p.r. still from SHIP OF FOOLS (1965) used as an image for the film encyclopedia’s entry on the actor.

The film encyclopedia entry on Marvin that got almost as much wrong as it did right.

The film encyclopedia entry on Marvin that got almost as much wrong as it did right.


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This Wednesday marks Lee Marvin’s 90th birthday and in honor of him I’ll be posting some EXTREMELY RARE PHOTOS never before seen in tribute to his legacy. His first onscreen acting was in director’ Henry Hathaway’s 1951 service comedy, U.S.S. Teakettle with Gary Cooper. The partly true adventures of an experimental steam battleship was ignored by audiences, even after the film was re-released as You’re In The Navy Now….
teakettleadHow he made his screen debut in the minute role and the effect it had on his career is explained in detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank. But as small as the part was, playing the ship’s radio man, Lee still took it seriously, as did fellow New York actors making their debut Jack Warden and Charles Bronson

Filmed on location in Norfolk Virginia’s Naval installation, Lee relaxed on the set with another identified extra looking very much like an ad to join the U.S. Navy…..

In this rarely seen contact sheet below, Marvin confabs with costar Gary Cooper. While filming, Marvin accompanied Cooper to a gas station in which Cooper paid with a $10 check. “I’m going to frame this,” exclaimed the attendant. When Marvin later asked Cooper how many of his checks were ever cashed, the wily old star drawled, “About one in ten.”


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