Saturday, March 08, 2014

Lee Marvin, American badass long and excellent Film Comment article on Marvin a sample

Ballad of a Soldier: Lee Marvin

By Brynn White
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Brynn White surveys the The ouvre of Lee Marvin, American badass
Lee Marvin liked to fight the Second World War. He fought it all the time! He fought it killin’ everyone that was coming up the highway. But then when I got in the picture he started just starin’ at me. And he stared at me and he stared at me. I knew something was gonna happen to me bad right then. And then he would jump right at me, jump right over to the sideways at me and there I was, fighting the Second World War. I’d go sideways over the couch, he’d go sideways over the couch. I’d jump over behind the couch and here he’d come Ku-thud, Ku-thud, Ku-thud so I couldn’t quite get away from him.—June Carter Cash

Cash reminisces on her most recent record as if she never did quite get away from Lee Marvin, as combative offscreen as on. One thing’s for sure: he earned his place in silver screen history as honestly as his burial plot at Arlington.

Legend has it that he caught the acting bug when a local theater production lost their leading man and asked the guy fixing the toilezt to fill his shoes. An acting amateur, perhaps, but this wolfish plumber had experienced the primitive disappointment of failing to secure the souvenir teeth of a dead Japanese soldier he’d shot with his father’s .45 (someone beat him to it) and the humiliation of his evacuation from the front lines due to a buttock wound, which, years later, would be self-deprecatingly reduced to an interview punchline. Small wonder his hair had turned completely white by his fourth decade. At the age of 21 Marvin knew enough of humankind’s cruelty; he knew its horrors as well as its seductive draw. He knew what real violence looked like, and this knowledge seemed to haunt his every move. As one of only three to escape slaughter in his marine platoon’s ambush, he was all too attuned to the absurdity and guilt of survival. “You’ve only got one thing to lose, your life . . . But what’s that?” he tells Burt Lancaster in The Professionals(66) in a prototypical Marvin (anti-) recruitment speech. When it’s your turn to go, it’s your turn to go, and so when Angie Dickinson attempts to sidestep her well-earned fate in The Killers, Marvin effortlessly barks, “Lady, I just don’t have the time.”

He was just as no-nonsense in the real world: a guy who tossed a prankster roommate out of a second-story window with the same nonchalance as he did the initial script of Point Blank. No, Hollywood didn’t change Lee Marvin much, it just gave him a playground within which he could wage internal battles with himself over his cowardice, failure, masculinity, violent inclinations, and quest for a reason to crawl out of bed every morning. “To show my strength is nothing,” he once said of his acting. “To show my weakness is everything.”

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1 comment:

Tony Renner said...

I don't think I'd ask the guy cleaning the toilets to fill my shoes!