Cargo (2018) is an intense horror thriller that helped resurrect the career of veteran stage, film and TV actor Ron Thompson. The premise of the film is unique and underlines what can be done with limited means. Reminds me of what Roger Corman referred to as, “Brilliance on a budget.” From the first few seconds of the film to the very end, Thompson inside a cargo container is all you ever see as he desperately tries to raise the ransom of his kidnappers demand.

Poster art from CARGO in which the entire premise is explained in the tagline.

The other actors noted in the poster are simply well-cast audio voices and never seen. Doesn’t matter. The premise and Thompson’s enacting of it holds the viewer spellbound for an hour and a half. It shows what the medium is capable of when disbelief is suspended and imagination runs amok. Be prepared, however. Despite his sole presence, the film gets kind of gruesome ins some parts.
I mention all this simply because Ron is a friend of mine and I warily watched Cargo at his urging. I say warily because once he told me the premise I knew it would be a tough go as it’s not my preferred genre. I finally relented and I was NOT disappointed. It’s a paranoid-claustrophobic thriller of the first order and Ron is excellent in it!
By the way, you may know Ron best — as I do — from his dual performances in Ralph Bakshi’s underrated classic, American Pop (1981).

Poster art from AMERICAN POP with an inset of Ron Thompson today.

It’s an interesting thing in that he has had one of, if not THE most unorthodox career of any person that I’ve ever heard of. In fact, I had told him that because of his roller coaster career, I’d ask the publisher of Filmfax if they’d be interested in an interview with Ron but sadly, they passed on the idea. Damn shame as it’s a fascinating yarn and he’s a fascinating man.
I met Ron via Facebook, since he proved to be quite a Lee Marvin fan and graciously wrote a review of my book. The social media platform also helped resurrect his career. The contacts he’s made actually lead to his role in Cargo, and several other worthwhile projects. A few kudos then to Mark Zuckerberg, at least for that, and allowing Ron and I to hook up. It was a similar casual hook up with director James Dylan that got Ron the role. Once we kept in contact thru Facebook, Ron surprised me by showing up at my book signing for Lee Marvin Point Blank at Jeff Mantor’s bookstore, Larry Edmunds. I was not only pleasantly surprised to meet Ron in person, Ron was equally surprised to meet up with Mitch Ryan’s accomplice, Claudette Sutherland, whom Ron hadn’t seen since his school days!

(L-R) Yours truly, Ron Thompson, and Ron’s long lost school friend, Claudette Sutherland at Larry Edmunds Bookstore.

All told, such coincidences are pretty impressive some times so never underestimate them. As my father used to say, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Take a shot. Brace yourself and watch Ron in Cargo for FREE at the link he sent me… If you dare!
– Dwayne Epstein.

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Before Lee Marvin Point Blank was even published in 2013, the people and places it showed up with surprised even me. For instance, publisher Tim Schaffner sent an advance review copy to publicist Mike Phillips who chose to waste no time in digging in, even if it meant taking it along to his work out….

Publicist Mike Phillips shares the advance copy with fellow gym members.

Once it did come out, I was quite gratified to see where and with whom it showed up. Of course, how one reads it is entirely up to the reader. take for instance Lee Marvin fan, Bill Consolo, who seems to have found a Hebrew version….

Bill Consolo reads what appears to be a unique copy of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Of course, even some celebrities have taken to help promote the book. When I did a book-signing at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, I was fortunate to have Mitch Ryan, Lee Marvin’s Monte Walsh costar, agree to appear….

Mitch Ryan, clearly excited to get his copy of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

At the same book signing, and much to my surprise, I finally got to meet up with veteran stage, film and TV actor, Ron Thompson. He had a dual role in one of my favorite films, American Pop, playing both Tony and Tony’s son, Little Pete. Ron and I became friends via Facebook and we had talked about meeting up a few times. His appearances at the book signing and later, his favorable opinion (third from the bottom) of my work was one of the most rewarding personal experiences I’ve had thus far.  While he was there, he received his own surprise as the lady who accompanied Mitch Ryan was an old friend of Ron’s that he had not seen in years! See what can happen when you come to one of my book signings!
-Dwayne Epstein

(L-R) Author Dwayne Epstein, American Pop’s Ron Thompson and his long lost friend, Claudette Sutherland.


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Alex Ben Block, Veteran correspondent for The Hollywood Reporter and author of the first — and in my opinon, still the best — biography on the legendary Bruce Lee, recently agreed to write a review on Amazon for my book, Lee Marvin Point Blank. For reasons neither one of us can understand, Amazon will not post the review. Being the good-hearted mensch that he is, when I asked him if he would allow me to post it on my blog, he fully agreed. What a guy, huh?

The cover of my own copy of Alex Ben Block's THE LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE, published a year after Lee's 1973 demise.

The cover of my own copy of Alex Ben Block’s THE LEGEND OF BRUCE LEE, published a year after Lee’s 1973 demise.

Anyway, what he wrote is below, and I’ve posted it not for ego-boosting purposes (although I will admit, it is quite a rocket launcher in that regard!) but to enforce the point of how incredibly fortunate I am to have someone of his stature take note of my work. Hopefully, maybe it’ll encourage others to read it…or better yet, rediscover Lee Marvin and his films!
And so, I give you, Mr. Block’s assement of my work. Enjoy…….
“This is the definitive book on Lee Marvin, who had one of the great screen careers in the era bridging the final days of the Golden Age of the studios and the modern age of blockbuster movies. Dwayne Epstein deserves praise for his in depth research, often insightful writing and for bringing back some wonderful memories for this Cat Ballou fan. I enjoyed reading it and came away with a greatly changed view of Marvin, and much more respect for his career, and the way he lived his life – exactly as he wanted no matter who liked it or how the world saw him. Marvin leaves a rich cinematic legacy, a lot of interesting TV work, an impressive military record, years of hard core alcoholism and the cloud of an absurd “palimony” suit, in a colorful and full life. This book delivers it all in detail, with context, rich characters and a feeling of truth – all done in a flowing and interesting narrative that kept me reading until the very end.”

A photo of Alex Ben Block (right) with iconic 70s actor and personal favorite, Elliot Gould, at a recent Hollywood function.

A photo of Alex Ben Block (right) with iconic 70s actor and personal favorite, Elliot Gould, at a recent Hollywood function.


I don’t mind saying, I have been extremely fortunate to have several notable individuals praise my work, among them NY Times Bestselling biographer Stefan Kanfer,  Screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook, author & TV writer Phoef Sutton, biopic writer Larry Karaszewski, and more!
They all boggle my mind in terms of their praise but several stick out for other reasons. One of the those notables is Tracy Keenan Wynn. Son of the legendary actor Keenan Wynn and grandson of comedian/actor Ed Wynn, Tracy and his brother Ned were forthcoming with me in interviews in which they spoke of their father’s friendship with Lee Marvin. Of course, there is no guarantee that after the book comes out either one of them will like the results.

Three generations of a show business dynasty: (L-R) A young Tracy Wynn with his father actor & Lee Marvin cohort, Keenan Wynn, and vaudeville legend, grandfather Ed Wynn.

Three generations of a show business dynasty: (L-R) A young Tracy Wynn with his father, actor & Lee Marvin cohort, Keenan Wynn, and his grandfather vaudeville legend, Ed Wynn.

Tracy is the highly noted screenwriter of everything from The Longest Yard (the original!) to The Autobiography of Mis Jane Pittman. When I asked if he’d be willing to write a review of my book, his response blew me away…

“Author Dwayne Epstein’s newest book, LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK, is a detailed and accurate account of the good and not so good chapters of Lee Marvin’s personal and professional lives, off and on the screen. This is an in-depth study of one of Hollywood’s near mythical character actor/ leading man hybrid personas….the book is at once an in depth study and as well as a highly readable and entertaining overview of one of Hollywood’s most endearing and enduring action stars.”

Another wonderful surprise was from actor Ron Thompson. His performance(s) in Ralph Bakshi’s animated film American Pop remains one of my all-time favorites as he beleivable essayed the character of Tony and his illigetimate son, Pete. Because the film was rotoscoped, no one realized it was even him on screen!

A recent photo of good friend Ron Thompson (inset) and one of his two animated alter egos, Pete, from Ralph Bakshi's AMERICAN POP.

A recent photo of good friend Ron Thompson (inset) and one of his two animated alter egos, Pete, from Ralph Bakshi’s AMERICAN POP.

I made friends with Ron on Facebook a while ago and was extremely glad to see our correspondence blossom into friendship. Actually met him in-person once, too. When I asked if he’d write a blurb for my book, I had no idea he’d write what he did below. I’m telling you, folks, life is constantly full of happy surprises!

“As a young teen, I went to see Brando in The Wild One. I left talking about Lee Marvin.
I truly enjoyed Lee Marvin: Point Blank. It enlightened me on who the man was. Some of you may know I’m an actor. I could relate to a lot of the stories. Especially when he was a NY actor and ‘making the rounds’ and doing live TV. I was unaware that he had been a New York actor.
There are wonderful stories of his adventures in movie making. Dwayne Epstein paints a 3 dimensional picture of the man: A good, kind, thoughtful and extremely troubled man. I highly recommend Point Blank. Well done, Dwayne Epstein.”

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