MARCH 2021 ON TCM

March 2021 is upon us and with it comes some Lee Marvin goodies from TCM. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank may see the connections to the choices and those who don’t, read on!
Below are the films, the reasons chosen and the airdates. Check local listings for time in your zone….

The Big Leaguer (1953), Saturday, March 6th:

(L-R) Director Robert Aldrich and costars Lee Marvin & Ernest Borgnine at the initial script conference for THE DIRTY DOZEN.


Since March is the start of the major league baseball season (although who knows with the pandemic upon us!), TCM has decided to air this interesting little gem. Edward G. Robinson stars in one of his final lead roles as the coach of the then New York Giants and what he must go through in scouting, training and choosing his young talent. It was the first film of the man who directed Lee Marvin in Attack!, The Dirty Dozen and Emperor of the North, one Robert Aldrich. It even has frequent Aldrich cast member Richard Jaeckel in it. Watch and see if you can detect Aldrich’s future talent. Oh, and speaking of the great Robinson, Lee Marvin recounts a terrific anecdote about meeting him at a Hollywood party that’s a favorite in Lee Marvin Point Blank

I Shot Jesse James (1949), Monday, March 8th:

(L-R) Director John Boorman is visited by Sam Fuller & Lee Marvin while filming THE BIG RED ONE in Ireland.


Speaking of Lee Marvin directors making their debut, this little programmer has the distinction of being the first film directed by maverick legend Sam Fuller. Fuller’s gut punch style of filmmaking is on full display here with the underrated John Ireland as the title character. I always liked what Scorsese said of Fuller’s style: “If you don’t like Sam’s movies, you just don’t like movies.” I got to know Sam at the end of his life and agree with Scorsese’s opinion. Marvin waited decades to work with Fuller (almost did a few times) but finally did in the underrated WWII-era film, The Big Red One.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Saturday, March 20th:

The mostly male cast of BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK: (L-R) Dean Jagger, Walter Sande, Lee, Walter Brennan, Russell Collins, Robert Ryan and Spencer Tracy.


Celebrate the first day of Spring this March 2021 with this classic modern western thriller. Mysterious one-armed Spencer Tracy heads an all-star cast in this taut suspense film with plenty of action thrown in along the way. It set the standard for such productions and Lee Marvin, in a minor role more than holds his own against such heavyweights as Robert Ryan, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine and Tracy himself. I was fortunate to interview costar John Ericson and the film’s Oscar-nominated screenwriter Millard Kaufman who became a good friend of Marvin’s over the years. The tales that were told are all in the book. 

The Caine Mutiny (1954), Sunday March 21st: 

Lee Marvin (“Meatball”) and Claude Akins (“Horrible”) in Edward Dymytrk’s THE CAINE MUTINY (1954).

Marvin was fortunate enough to work with some of the most legendary male stars in cinema throughout his lengthy apprenticeship. In fact, with the possible exception of Clark Gable, he worked in support of practically all of them! The impressive list includes Tyrone Power, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, the aforementioned Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman, John Cassavetes, Anthony Quinn, Randolph Scott and more! Here he is lending comic support to the great Humphrey Bogart in one of Bogart’s last and best performances. Bogart is the paranoid Captain Queeg of the U.S.S. Caine and few actors could portray mental illness as well as Bogie. Contrary to rumor, Marvin was not an uncredited technical advisor on the film, mainly because he had been a Marine and not a sailor, which Bogart was in real life. I interviewed the film’s director, Edward Dymytrk at the legendary Musso & Frank’s, and the anecdotes, as with others I spoke with, were put in my book. 

Stylishly filmed, this fight scene with Bogie and Tim Holt vs. Barton McLane in THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE is a classic.

The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1949), Saturday, March 27th: 

This classic is of course not a Lee Marvin film but he is on record as calling it one of his favorites, and for good reason. As he had in The Caine Mutiny, Bogart again shows his mastery in exploring a growing paranoia but this time its in the midst of a gold strike in the mountains of Mexico. Director John Huston guided his father Walter to a worthy Best Supporting Actor Oscar with Tim Holt along for the ride. Why did Marvin consider this film a favorite? The fight scene toward the beginning is the main reason. I completely agree with his reasoning and said as much in a previous blog entry. It’s considered a classic for a reason. 

So there you have it: March 2021 on TCM for Lee Marvin fans. By the way, there some other non-Lee Marvin related personal favorites being aired on TCM for March 2021 to also look out for:
Sweet Smell of Success (March 3rd); Boy Meets Girl (March 4th); Brute Force (March 5th); A Face in The Crowd (March 6th); Lust For Life & The Great Train Robbery (March 6th); Red River (March 8th); The Adventures of Robin Hood (March 9th); Fool’s Parade (March 10th); Straight Time (March 11th); Inherit the Wind (March 13th); The Quiet Man (March 17th); Ice Station Zebra (March 18th); Anatomy of A Murder (March 20th); My Favorite Year & Oliver! March 21st) Bugsy Malone (March 23rd); The Marrying Kind & Charade (March 28th); Mickey One (March 30th); The Candidate (March 31st). 

Thank the classic movie gods for TCM!

– Dwayne Epstein

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MERV GRIFFIN INTERVIEWS LEE MARVIN: 1985

Merv Griffin, the former big band singer and later TV talk show host/game show producer, interviewed Lee Marvin on his show many times. Marvin was a natural on talk shows, with his rolling eyes and mugging takes to the audience.

Screen capture of Lee Marvin being interviewed by Merv Griffin, circa 1985.

Long before the advent of streaming media or video-on-demand, the public could purchase box sets of old TV shows that came from the vaults that producers would pick and choose the “Best of…” Griffin’s long running show, first on a major network and then later in syndication, boasted many fascinating guests that I often looked forward to seeing on a daily basis. In 2006, he wisely entered the arena of public consumption by doing such a box set of his interviews.

Cover of Merv Griffin’s box set.

I wasn’t particularly a fan of the show as Griffin’s interview style was a bit annoying but the guests who agreed to be on his show was often worth tuning in for. Check out the graphics on the box set to drive the point home….

Back of the Merv Griffin DVD box set listing the remarkable guest list.

I wanted to post the interview he did with Lee on this blog a while ago but unfortunately, I’m not technically proficient enough to pull that off. Luckily, via social media someone else did and it’s quite a fascinating throwback. Griffin asks Marvin about working with the likes of Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny) and Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock),  answering similarly as he did in his interview with Charles Bronson. Best of all, Griffin includes a clip from an interview he did with Marvin and Jim Brown in England while they were making The Dirty Dozen.

(L-R) Jim Brown, Lee Marvin & Merv Griffin in The Red Lion Pub in England.

Okay, enough prologue. On with the clip linked below.
Notice how I never once mentioned my award-winning NY Times Bestseller, Lee Marvin Point Blank…..until now.
-Dwayne Epstein

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FASHION TRENDS & LEE

According to first wife Betty Marvin: “Lee’s screen appeal in a way was a lot like Humphrey Bogart, except that Lee was actually much better looking than Bogart.”

Fashion trends may seem an unlikely subject for a blog promoting Lee Marvin Point Blank. Choice of firearms may seem a more likely subject. However, based on what several folks have told me over the years about the man, fashion trends is a subject that does indeed deserve some undo recognition.
For example, Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin, told me, “Lee, of course, had a great body and looked great in clothes. Lee really had great style. His social wardrobe was just a knockout. We both used to love to dress up. He was very handsome….”

Betty Marvin (left) with husband Lee (bottom right) dressed approriately for a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Party.

 

A more recent example came from a friend via social media, Bill Consolo, who recently recounted this memory from his mother:

“My mom was out to dinner with friends at the now long gone Frascati, on the corner of Wilshire and Rodeo Drive. Of course there was a restaurant and a bar and the way mom told it to me was that she noticed Lee Marvin at the bar all alone. Mom knew who he was immediately because as she said when you saw him, he was just as you saw him on the screen. She said he was tall and lean and a very good looking man. What stuck out to her was that he was dressed in blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a pressed white linen dress shirt. Remember this was still the 1960s. My mom was well traveled at these places and knew plenty of celebrities but she said Lee stuck out in Beverly Hills like a sore thumb because she had never seen a man dress like that. Mind you, my mom thought there was nothing wrong with it either, because he looked so damn handsome.”

Backstage after winning his Oscar, Lee wore the requisite formal attire, but topped it off with the then fashionable chevron tie.

Having partied all night after his Oscar win, the next morning Lee held an impromptu press conference at LAX on the way back to the London set of THE DIRTY DOZEN, but still managed to look fashionable in boots, khakis, sport coat and bandana tie.

A 1980 People magazine article pictured Lee doing what contemporaries like John Wayne & Robert Mitchum would never do: Join the roller boogie craze, with fashion trend-y head band and Walkman.

Even in old age, Marvin set fashion trends with a crisp denim shirt and zippered suede vest topped off with a Stetson Open Road Fedora.

-Dwayne Epstein

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