GAY ICONS

Gay icons exist in the movies and two of the most well-known worked with Lee Marvin. Since June is Gay Pride month (which not so coincidentally is also a theme on TCM for the month) I thought it a good time to comment on Marvin’s work with these two prominent gay icons. It’s important to keep in mind that at the time of these two actors’ greatest popularity their sexual orientation was NOT known, as it would have meant professional suicide. This fact of course allowed them to become major stars and sex symbols to their admiring fans.
First up, Rock Hudson, an often mediocre actor at best but a wonderful and legendary light comedian with a charming air when most befuddled. Marvin’s films with Hudson were not memorable in and of themselves but they certainly helped his career. Released in 1953, Gun Fury and Seminole both top-lined Hudson in rather bland performances. Something, in my opinion, that was often the case with him in dramas, with the sole exception being the riveting performance he gave in Seconds (1966). Gun Fury was released in 3-D and allowed Marvin to put on his resume’ that he worked with the great Raoul Walsh as well as a friendship with Leo Gordon. Other than that…

Seminole, on the other hand, actually had scenes in which Marvin and Hudson interacted — albeit, briefly — throughout the movie.

(L-R) Lee Marvin as Sgt. Magruder and Rock Hudson as Lt. Lance Caldwell in Budd Boetticher’s SEMINOLE.

It was simply another programmer for Hudson, but for Marvin it meant working with cult director Budd Boetticher for the first time, who would go on to cast Marvin in Seven Men From Now (1956), one of the actor’s best performances. What did Marvin think of working with Hudson in the overtly macho period films? I have no idea. I do know, however, that for a man of his generation, he had some surprisingly forward-thinking ideas on the subject of homosexuality that he expressed in Playboy Magazine.
As to other gay icon, that would be Montgomery Clift, the legendary Method actor who’s tragic life Marvin witnessed firsthand.

Lee Marvin (left) and RAINTREE COUNTY costar Montgomery Clift photographed by Bob WIlloughby.

Marvin had gone on record as not being a fan of Method actors as a rule yet ironically, he claimed two of the best actors he ever encountered were Marlon Brando (when he cared) and Clift. Raintree County (1957) was the film he made with Clift and was also the film in which Clift suffered a disfiguring car accident early into the production.

(L-R) Lee Marvin and Montgomert Clift as ‘Bummers’ during the Civil War scene in Raintree.

Marvin’s performance in the film is one of his best while Clift is naturally just painful to watch, no matter how hard he tried. That aside, Marvin had his own theory on the accident’s cause which will not be expressed here, as it is strictly hearsay. Luckily, the tragedy of Clift’s forced hidden sexuality and disfiguring car accident does not hamper his legacy as a superb actor, thanks to his many extraordinary film performances.
As to the Gay community in general, Marvin had several run-ins with members of the community on a personal level. One such encounter was hilariously retold to me by Marvin’s friend and costar Bob Phillips and concerns Marvin’s dedication to the USMC. Another concerned one of his children and both tales can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank. So happy Pride, dear readers, and remember, Gay Icons may be everywhere but on film, they are often legendary.

– Dwayne Epstein

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RELEASED THIS DAY IN 1953: LEE MARVIN IN SEMINOLE

Lee Marvin’s earliest supporting roles are often overlooked, such as Seminole, released this day in 1953. The film itself is a typical Hollywood take on a fascinating aspect of U.S. history, as pointed out in Lee Marvin: Point Blank. In fact, when Marvin was in school Florida, he found the true story of the Seminole tribal chief Osecola so fascinating, he wrote a book report on the subject. He may have been equally thrilled to get the job in the film only to become equally disappointed once he read the script.

Original poster art for 1953's Seminole, in which 7th billed Lee Marvin is no where in sight.

Original poster art for 1953’s Seminole, in which 7th billed Lee Marvin is no where in sight.

TIME magazine aptly derided the film as “a swampy melodrama,” in which mean soldiers try to eliminate marauding Indians with a sympathetic White officer caught in the middle. Rock Hudson played the sympathetic officer Anthony Quinn played Osceola, and the the mean soldiers were headed up by RIchard Carlson. Marvin was listed SEVENTH down the cast list, but he did have a a substantial scene towards the end of the film.

Marvin (far left) is dutifully militaristic as Richard Carlson (left) and Rock Hudson (center) plot their next move.

Marvin (far left) is dutifully militaristic as Richard Carlson (left) and Rock Hudson (center) plot their next move.

 

Anthony Quinn as Osceola (left) and childhood friend Rock Hudson (right) ride off together in dubious battle.

Anthony Quinn as Osceola (left) and childhood friend Rock Hudson (right) ride off together in dubious battle.

The film’s director, the underrated Budd Boetticher, did point out how the run-of-the-film led to better things for Marvin shortly thereafter…..
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“…..[Marvin] played Sgt. Magruder and he was very, very good. [Seminole’s screenwriter] Burt Kennedy brought him in. He suggested Lee to play the second lead on my next picture with Randy [Scott]. Now Duke Wayne [as producer], and you can quote me on this, Duke was either a son-of-a-bitch or the best friend you ever had, depending on the mood he was in. Burt asked Duke, “Who should we use?” Duke said, “Let’s use Randy. He’s through.”
The result was one of Lee’s earliest lead roles and one of his all-time best performances: Big Masters in Seven Men From Now (1956).

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PARAMOUNT STUDIOS PROMO PICTURE FROM 1969

Paramount Studios Promo Picture: In 1969 the flamboyant young head of Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans, wanted to show off his new slate of projects and the stars that were in them and talked several of them into posing for this promo picture on the steps of the Paramount Pictures lot. Shown on the top row from the left are Rock Hudson, John Wayne and Yves Montand. Based on the apparent eyepatch, Wayne was obviousy still filming True Grit but was soon to work with Hudson in the post-Civil War film, The Undefeated. At the time the photo was taken, Hudson was working with Julie Andrews on Paramount’s  Darling Lili. Bottom row from the left are Lee Marvin, Robert Evans, Barbra Streisand, Paramount VP Bernard Donnenfeld and Clint Eastwood. Streisand and Montand were starring in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Eastwood was inexplicably still in costume for he and Marvin’s project, Paint Your Wagon. Big budgeted westerns and musicals, or in the case of Paint Your Wagon, a little of both.. Ahh, how the world has changed!

Note that in spite of the pretty impressive star power, it is the heavily bearded Marvin who successfully stands apart and alone form the pack.

paramount69

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