TUCSON ARIZONA & LEE MARVIN

Tucson Arizona, a city with a surprising history of filmmaking (mostly westerns, of course) was also the home to Lee Marvin the last few decades of his life. Recently, I came across an online photo spread of Tucson’s rich celebrity enriched images which can be seen here
If you don’t want to scroll all the way down to find Lee Marvin like I did, here’s the image below…

Original caption: “Sarah Gorby and actor Lee Marvin hold baby javelinas before a fundraising dinner at the Tucson Racquet Club for the Sarah Gorby Wildlife Rehabilitation Fund in 1983.” Anybody know what the hell a javelina is?

 

Of course, the plethora of film & TV actors captured in photos at work, play and various other venues is certainly worth scrolling through. Pretty impressive as it runs the gamut from the 1950s to today and features everyone from John Wayne (natch!) to Ted Danson! Particular favorites are Groucho Marx and Jayne Mansfeld. The info is intriguing, as well, despite the fact that Jack Lemmon never made a movie called It Happened One Night (1934) but did costar with June Allyson in a 1956 musical remake called You Can’t Run Away From It. Also, the Paul Newman movie in which he’s getting his boots shined was not Pockey Money (whatever that is!) but Pocket Money (1972), costarring the subject of this blog. 
 Speaking of the subject of this blog, the fact that he did reside in Tucson Arizona played a pretty significant role in my biography of him, Lee Marvin Point Blank finally seeing the light of day. Publisher Tim Schaffner, a Tucson resident himself, was pondering whether to publish my work or not Told me that when he noticed his local video store having a speical on Lee Marvin movies, several folks told him some Lee Marvin stories. Hey, every little bit helps! 
 As for Lee Marvin stories, social media can help in the strangest ways. It didn’t make the book but rocker Brad Brooks had his own interesting tale to tell I wrote about here. He later told me he met the man while he worked delivering water to the Marvin home and the serial rapist was real! Just goes to show ya, you never know where or how Lee Marvin can pop up in the world!

-P.S. Been so busy on other projects I haven’t had time to blog in a while. With that in mind, allow me to wish a wonderful yet belated happy 90th birthday as of September 30th to the legendary Angie Dickinson! She is a class act I was fortunate enough to interview for my book and unpublished selections can be seen here. All the best, Angie!
– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button

SUMMER UNDER THE STARS, 2021

Summer Under the Stars is a month long event broadcast by TCM in which they show the films of one particular actor each day in the month of August. They’ve been doing it for years and this year they finally get around to honoring Lee Marvin, I believe for the first time. 

TCM’s line up of Lee Marvin films for August 28th. All times are Eastern Standard Time.



Normally, I like to showcase the films of Marvin to be shown on TCM at the end of the month for the upcoming month but this is worthy of some early acknowledgement. It’s not just for the obvious inclusion of Marvin’s films, but the fact that they are being shown pretty much in chronological order. It allows the viewer to see the progression of his career over time and recognize that even from the inception, his performances were always scene-stealing moments of the highest caliber. As costar Clu Gulager told this author back in 1997: “It turned out, Lee was, in my view, one of the foremost actors of his time. You never know about actors in their formative stages. Lee formed fairly early and became a great actor fairly early. Whereas, an actor like Paul Newman for example, who is today a great actor, did not form as early. I’m just showing you by way of contrast, we all have our time. Like Lloyd Bridges for example became a great actor in his older age. I think Marty Landau also. You just never know. But Marvin he just always was great.” 
The films chosen by TCM for their Summer Under the Stars tribute to Lee Marvin is a decent cross section of his work, despite the presence of a few often aired films, such The Dirty Dozen, Point Blank and Cat Ballou. Luckily, they are also including the likes of rarely shown Pocket Money and Gorky Park
It’s also worth noting the date chose to honor Marvin, as it’s a one day before the date of his death of August 29th, 1987. That will probably will get mentioned by one of the on air hosts. There’s some other worthy subjects throughout the month along the way, such as Gloria Grahame on the 17th and the airing of The Big Heat. As for me, I’m also looking forward to the likes of Robert Mitchum (August 6th), George Segal (August 10th), Jane Fonda (August 13th), Robert Redford (August 18th), Tyrone Power (August 22nd) and James Cagney (August 30th), among several others. The calendar can be found here.
Of course, anyone interested in finding out more about the making of any or all of the films being shown on Lee Marvin day for Summer Under the Stars, can find them all exclusively covered in Lee Marvin Point Blank.  

– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button

HECTOR ELIZONDO

Hector Elizondo, veteran character of many movies, TV show and stage appearances, was interviewed by a website recently concerning his lengthy and amazing career. Not a fan of this particular website so I won’t name it here. I am, however a huge fan of Hector Elizondo and was pleasantly surprised when he spoke of the influence Lee Marvin had on his work. Any Garry Marshall film shows off Elizondo’s versatility (1984’s The Flamingo Kid is a personal favorite) but discovering his anecdote on working with Lee Marvin on Pocket Money was a revelation! I wished I had interviewed him about it myself for Lee Marvin Point Blank but didn’t remember them having any scenes together. It’s okay, though, as I did get PLENTY of other exclusives that did go in the book. So, with that in mind, below is the part of the interview in which the great Hector Elizondo relates his tale of Lee Marvin’s influence.
Oh, one more thing. As Marvin fans know, Elizondo is mistaken when he says Marvin was a Ranger in the Army. He was of course, a scout/sniper in in the USMC. That aside, enjoy this rarely told tale!

Lee Marvin as Leonard in 1972’s POCKET MONEY.




Well, the secret to playing a bad guy… I was aided in this by another wonderful actor, Lee Marvin. We were on our way to camera when we were doing Pocket Money, and I said, “Lee, excuse me, I have to tell you something. I’m usually not a gusher…” And I wasn’t, because by then I was already a veteran actor from the New York stage. But I said, “I gotta tell ya, I just love the way you play bad guys.” And he stopped and he looked at me. And, you know, Lee was tall with a deep voice—he was a Ranger in the Army, by the way, so this guy was a tough fella—and he said [Gruffly.] “I’ve never played a bad guy in my life.” And I said to myself, “Okay, this is another teaching moment!” 

Veteran character actor, Hector Elizondo.



He said, “Have you known bad guys?” I said, “Well, yeah, I’m from Harlem, New York. I’ve known a few bad guys!” He said, “Uh-huh. Did they think they were bad guys?” And I thought, and I said, “Not one.” “Uh-huh. No, they thought they had a job to do, that they were victims. They didn’t think they were bad. They were just doing their work. They have a point of view. You can’t play a ‘bad guy’ because then you’re playing a stereotype in a cartoon.” And that helped me in Pelham 1-2-3 [1974]. I didn’t play him like a bad guy. He had a job to do, that’s all. I had some inner thing that people read into, but that’s up to them.

Oh, and Lee told me something else: he said, “If the camera likes you, that’s something ephemeral. You can be as ugly as the dog’s breakfast, but if the camera likes you… You can be playing bad guys for the rest of your life, but for people to pay the price for a ticket to see you, something has to come through about you that cuts through the bad-guy stereotype.” So after Pretty Woman [1990], I don’t get a chance to play bad guys anymore! [Laughs.] I mean, I love Pretty Woman, of course. I just find that interesting.  

– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button