A FISTFUL OF LOVE

“A Fistful of Love,” an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aired January 2, 1959 starring Lee Marvin, proving the actor’s amazing versatility in a poignant tale of an aging boxer.

Lee Marvin as boxer Pete “The Pittsburgh Kid” Pulaski in A FISTFUL OF LOVE.

it’s a simple yet elegiac tale told very much in the style of Rod Serling’s groundbreaking TV and movie script for “Requiem For A Heavyweight,” which aired live in 1956 and later filmed in 1962. In fact, the stylized opening to “A Fistful” is almost identical to Requiem For A Heavyweight
  When I was researching Lee Marvin Point Blank I was amazed to discover the depth and breadth of the actor’s TV work. He proved infinitely more versatile on the small screen than he ever was on the big screen. Even when it came to military-themed stories, as the only time he ever portrayed Marine (which he was in real-life) was on television. Consequently, I devoted an entire chapter just to his TV appearances.
  At the time he appeared on “Fistful” it was during the golden age of television in which anthology programs were sponsored by large corporations that cranked out dozens of unique stand-alone stories without recurring characters. As a result, the quality ultimately suffered. Veteran TV and film director put it best when he said to me, “You must understand that anthology TV is a very difficult form. The canvas is very small in which to develop. Consequently, it wasn’t very good unless you were doing sci-fi or something of that nature. Audiences had to latch on in Scene 1, Act 1 with the character. That’s why anthology never worked. The successful shows were rare ones.” Martinson’s concept probably explains the longevity of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” 
  Several of the supporting cast may look familiar. Marvin, portraying a boxer named Pete Pulaski, aka ‘The Pittsburgh Kid,” is managed by Buddy Lester, probably best known for his appearances in several Jerry Lewis movies. Speaking of Jerry Lewis movies, Pulaski’s trainer is the rotund character actor Stanley Addams. Addams was a friend and neighbor of Lee and Betty Marvin best known for playing Lewis’s bellicose boss in The Errand Boy (1961). 
Written and directed by veteran Allen Miner, he probably got Marvin to do the show based on having written directed several episodes of “M Squad,” which Marvin co-produced. So, with all that in mind, return for a moment to early 1959 and the black and white city realm of a boxer’s faded glory. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein


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IN THE NEWS

In The News, the title of short little updates on current events between Saturday morning cartoons (remember those?) on CBS and hosted by Christopher Glenn in the late 1970s, was an interesting addition to the animated line-up. It’s now become a regular feature for yours truly as I troll the internet for interesting possible subject matter regarding Lee Marvin. 

  Granted, I’ve been able to maintain this blog for several years based mainly on the exclusive info I garnered researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, and it’s been fascinating to do so. However, every now and again, I run out of ideas and do indeed, troll the ‘net, only discover tidbits I was not aware of previously. 

Example: I came across an article on the Psychology Today website in which the learned author deals with the question, can someone really be scared to death? He answers the query (minus a plethora of medical jargon) and adds a favorite tale of his in which he goes into great detail. The article can be read here as I was impressed with how much the episode of The Twilight Zone entitled “The Grave” influenced author Troy Rondinone, Ph.D. even though it aired way back in 1961.

Conny Miller (Lee Marvin) considers the bet made by Steinhart (Lee Van Cleef) with a Bowie knife.

Conny Miller confronted by Pinto Sykes sister Ione (Ellen Willard) in “The Grave.”

 



Starring Lee Marvin (natch!) and a terrific supporting cast, the old west version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” obviously still resonates with some folks, despite the weak denouement. 


It’s still a wonderfully erie and well-produced episode despite the ending and is worth re-viewing every time it airs.
By the way, the images from the episode seen here are from author Steve Rubin’s wonderful book, The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia, which I highly recommend.

Also in the news, and surprisingly so, is an article in last month’s Chicago Magazine website citing “M Squad” as the best show ever aired about the famed Windy City, which can be read here

Lee Marvin as Lt. Frank Ballinger in front of a Chicago map on M SQUAD.


   And speaking of Chicago, another Op-Ed article in the news, this time in the Chicago Tribune’s site, makes the same pronouncement regarding several films that came out this year not really being able to be as good as Marvin’s earlier efforts, among others.



For a man who’s been dead more than three decades, it’s quite heartening to see that he’s still very much with us…..in the news. 

* Dwayne Epstein

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FILMFAX, STEVE RUBIN, TWILIGHT ZONE, LEE MARVIN & ME

So, what do the Twilight Zone, Filmfax Magazine, author Steve Rubin, Lee Marvin and yours truly have in common? A simple phone call. Filmfax publisher/managing editor, Mike Stein, calls me up and asks if I’d be interested in doing an interview with Steve Rubin, author of The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia. It’s a trifecta in my mind since The Twilight Zone has always been one of my favorite shows, I’d get work in two issues in a row of the quarterly magazine and Steve Rubin is actually a friend of mine. How could I say no?

Filmfax #151 cover which includes my interview with author/friend Steve Rubin.

Turns out, Rubin is a wonderful person to interview as we are simpatico on several levels. He also has an impressive resume of other written work an is an independent producer of some quality films. Our talk drifted in many directions for that reason, but the core of the conversation, of course, was his wonderful new tome on The Twilight Zone. Do not let the term ‘encyclopedia’ leave you cold. It’s anything but a dry and uninteresting read like most encyclopedias. The format fits the word but the writing style certainly doesn’t. It’s chock full of great, fun facts that is quite accessible and undeniably addictive.

The cover of Steve Rubin’s new book, THE TWILIGHT ZONE ENCYCLOPEDIA.

How does Lee Marvin play into this? Well, in Lee Marvin Point Blank I devoted an entire chapter to Marvin’s TV work, discovering some gems along the way. As most fans know, Marvin appeared on The Twilight Zone in two great episodes. I didn’t write much about them but Steve certainly did. One of Marvin’s best performances was in the Richard Matheson penned episode, “Steel,” and Rubin enviously interviewed co-star Chuck Hicks!

The Twilight Encyclopedia’s entry of “Steel.”

Part 2 of Rubin’s entry on “Steel.”

All told, both the interview and the book are worthy reads. Below is my introduction to the interview, but don’t simply take my word for it. Check out Filmfax #151 for yourself at your nearest bookstore or newsstand. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
-Dwayne Epstein

Steve Rubin Filmfax interview introduction.

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