THE OSCAR TRACK

The Oscar track is upon us since the nominations were announced last month, as shown here. I use the term “The Oscar track” as it’s the appropriate term used by Lee Marvin when he was interviewed by TIME Magazine’s Stefan Kanfer in the 1970s. Kanfer had the audacity to tell the actor he didn’t think his Oscar-winning performance in Cat Ballou was even close to his best performance. The writer was amazed to hear Marvin agree with him. Adding, “But y’know, you run this track, and that’s the track that the racers are on; it’s the Oscar track. It really isn’t based on skill as much as it’s based on luck and popularity.” Kanfer’s remembrance of the interview — along with his assistant, future Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Jay Cocks — is hysterically recounted in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Lee Marvin in POCKET MONEY and as he probably appeared when interviewed by Stefan Kanfer.


 As to the Oscar track, Marvin’s point is well taken. Now, normally this time of the month I’d be blogging about any upcoming Lee Marvin-related films on TCM but since the network is broadcasting “31 Days of Oscar” all month there’s a dearth of Marvin-related films. The sole exception is Ship of Fools, which is a shame since he made other films that were indeed on the Oscar track in one way or another: The Professionals (1966), and The Dirty Dozen (1967) received such recognition but truth be told, I think a few of his films SHOULD have been on The Oscar track and were not. 
 On the technical side, the innovations apparent in Point Blank (1967), such as the editing and the sound advancements (first film in which the actors were individually ‘miked’) and Conrad Hall’s breathtaking cinematography of Hell in the Pacific (1968) were certainly worthy. They may have ran out of the money since they were both directed by the very British John Boorman and both films did poorly when first released. I don’t know if either factor is the case but it’s a pretty safe bet. 
 I can say, for the purposes of this blog entry, two of Lee Marvin’s performances overlooked by the Academy were certainly worthy:
Monte Walsh (1970), remains an overlooked classic for which Marvin gave one of his most poignant performances.

Monte Walsh, 1970


As cited in detail in Lee Marvin Point Blank, several critics at the time of its release said the same and thought an Oscar nomination for Best Actor was practically a foregone conclusion. Sadly, It never happened. 

The Big Red One (1980): Sam Fuller’s semi-autobiographical yarn of his experiences in Europe during WWII allowed Marvin to give one of the best performances of his career, running a gamut of emotions from badass to empathy as a nameless sergeant pushing his young charges on a rifle squad, to the poignancy of caring for a young boy in a liberated concentration camp. 

The Big Red One, 1980.

It’s a pity both of these performances were overlooked and the reasons they were are as speculative as they are varied. Too bad there’s no such thing as a retro Oscar track. If there were, Marvin would win it in a walk.

– Dwayne Epstein

 

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CYBER MONDAY? LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK!

Cyber Monday is December 2nd and in the spirit of such blatant internet promotion allow me to join the passing parade of shameless self-indulgence with the inclusion of Lee Marvin Point Blank. Yeah, I know the book came out more than six years ago, but it is still very much in print, in demand, and worthy of discovery by those who have yet to purchase it. Why is that you ask? Well, for one thing, as my publisher pointed out, it’s a perennial, not bound by fads or current events that fade in short order. For another, it’s available in several formats, each with its own appeal.

Released January, 2013, the above image is from the hardcover edition of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK, still very much available.

 

First up is the hardcover. It remains the first definitive account of the life, work and legacy of one of the most important actors of the second half of the twentieth century. I spent nearly 20 years researching it and the result is 100 exclusive interviews of friends, family and co-workers, many rare never-before-seen photos, letters recounting his harrowing time in WWII and much, much more.  Within a year, the book was also anointed with several awards, such as winning the Bronze in Biography from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (“Ippy”) and being a finalist in Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards. Not bad for a first-time author, right?

 

 

 

Not long after the release of the hardcover, the Kindle became available via Amazon and the result was quite surprising. An enterprising publicist at the distributor, IPG (Independent Publishing Group), hustled the hell out of the e-book which ultimately made the top five on the coveted  New York Times Bestseller List, as well as the Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

One of the Kindle’s opening images, which was a NY Times best seller.

The following year, my publisher, Tim Schaffner of Schaffner Press, decided to up the ante with the publication of the paperback. He requested that I add some new material to the project….

Paperback cover with sunburst declaration of added material, as well as the medallion sticker awarding the Bronze in Biography.

Table of Contents listing the added data compiled by yours truly for the paperback version.

I was of course pleasantly surprised not only by how well it turned out but also by the addition of several pages consisting of positive feedback from prominent individuals, such as fellow biographers Marshall Terrill (STEVE MCQUEEN: PORTRAIT OF A REBEL), Bill Krohn (HITCHCOCK AT WORK), Stefan Kanfer ( BOGART: TOUGH WITHOUT A GUN), Frank Thompson (NOTHING SACRED: THE CINEMA OF WILLIAM WELLMAN) and others.  Who could ask for more? Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
So, there you have it. My pitch to put LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK on your Cyber Monday holiday shopping list. I realize that regular readers of this blog, (if there are any) may have read this all before but since the key to good promotion is “Tell them what you know, tell them again and then tell them what you told them,” I leave it to one and all to make up their own minds….so what are you waiting for? Do you part for Cyber Monday and get your copy now.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
– Dwayne Epstein

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LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK MAKES THE PERFECT FATHER’S DAY GIFT!

Still looking for the perfect, last-minute Father’s Day gift for this Sunday, June 17th? Well, look no further as LEE MARVIN: POINT BLANK  might be just the thing! For those who may have already purchased it, then you know all about it. A copy for any dad who’s a fan would fit the bill and if he’s not a fan, he jus may become one after reading it.
If you didn’t already know, it’s  the winner of the Bronze in Biography at the 2013 Independent Publisher Book Awards(IPPY), a finalist in Forewod Magazine’s Book of the Year contest, a NY Times & Wall Street Journal top ten best seller and, according to Time Magazine’s Stefan Kanfer, it’s “Unforgettable… a surprisingly intelligent and heroic figure springs from the page… Epstein looks at a complicated figure and presents him in a full-length, three-way mirror. And it is absolutely impossible to look away.”
Amazon’s website offers next day shipping AND gift wrapping! It’s available in three separate formats. First, as a collectible hardcover…..

My personal copy of the hardcover dust jacket forLee Marvin Point Blank (note the bronze medallion for winning the IPPY award), that is going to be quite collectible as it’s almost out of print!

Without the dust jacket, Lee Marvin Point Blank has this really impressive image engraved on it!

It’s also available in trade paperback with extra material added as shown in the starburst added for extra incentive….

Trade paperback cover of Lee Marvin Point Blank that’s identifiable by the Leonard Maltin quote and added star burst.

Lee Marvin Point Blank’s  paperback table of contents that delineates the exclusive extras.

If your father is fairly tech savvy, then you should know that Lee Marvin Point Blank is also available as an e-book in various incarnations. The most popular has proven to be Amazon’s Kindle. In fact, in June 2014, it made the NY Times bestseller list at number four! Pretty cool, huh? It’s described below as….

Screen shot of Amazon’s Kindle description of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

So, all that said, what are you waiting for? Reduced pricing, great extras, free shipping and gift wrapping, all add up to make Lee Marvin Point Blank the perfect Father’s Day gift. You’re welcome.
– Dwayne Epstein

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