Saturday, May 16, 2020

Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin was a star of westerns and war movies. He often played the bad guy, but whatever his role he played, I remember as his portrayals as tough, no nonsense, and direct.

He came by that honestly. He joined the Marine Corps in August of 1942. Served in the 4th Marine Division in the Pacific. He was with 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines when he was wounded by Japanese machine gun fire at the battle of Saipan. He spent a year recovering in Navy hospitals.

Got an acting start after the war, then into TV and film. Won the Academy award for Best Actor in 1965. He played a starring role in The Dirty Dozen. Here's the trailer. I had forgotten what a great cast this movie had.



He acted in over a hundred movie and television shows. Made a lot of money. Won a lot of awards.

When he died at the age of 63 in 1987, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. What did he want to be remembered for?



14 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

Maybe it’s just my imagination but it seemed they had faces then. Today I look at the soy faced smooth boys of Hollywood and none of them could play a role like that.

Mind you, nowadays half of the dirty dozen would be played by wahmen or queers....

jim rock said...

Filthie has the gist of it.

MrGarabaldi said...

Heh ASM;

When you saw Lee wear the gear in Dirty Dozen or the "Big Red one" you could tell he "Wore it for real". when he handled the grease gun in the "Dirty Dozen" he Knew how to use it. It spoke of experience...as well as the experience in the "Big Red One" as he handled the Garand. he was the Real deal.

Ol codger said...

BIG BRASS ONES! Completely absent in hollywierd today.

LSP said...

63... too young.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Semper Fi.

HMS Defiant said...

I had the duty the day he died and I remember sitting in the Chief's Mess and seeing the report of his death followed by a rather good tribute either out of Hollywood or maybe the local San Diego station. They played the trailer for Paint Your Wagon as he walked along and sang along to, 'born under a wandering star.' Captured the essence of the man perfectly IMHO.

Richard said...

My favorite was Liberty Valence. If you look at the clip of the steak confrontation, you can see that Marvin was actually a shade taller than John Wayne.

chris said...

"There are two kinds of people in his up-tight world: his victims and his women. And sometimes you can't tell them apart." That's the tagline from the 1967 Lee Marvin movie Point Blank. Can you imagine that tagline being used for a movie today?

STxAR said...

He reminds me of the guy that lead singing at the little country church I attended as a young man. Buck didn't have the prettiest voice but you didn't get lost when he was singing. Loud but on key. He had a distinctive voice. I don't think he missed a Sunday.

And he was in Korea during the war. Never mentioned a word about it until my son came back from Korea with his 2'nd ID patch. There was talk of mountains, valleys, cold, Katusa's, and much other in-country trivia. Buck never said a word about his service before then.

Those guys did the work, and didn't brag or moan about it. They just went on down the road and did what they did. That's what it means to be a MAN. At least in my mind.

Old NFO said...

Yep, he 'knew' how to handle weapons and wear a uniform, that always came through loud and clear. Dirty Dozen was and still is one of my favorite movies!

FlyingMike said...

In the still frame from the Dirty Dozen trailer, Lee Marvin's co-fake-kraut is Charles Bronson, who during WWII was a USAAF B-29 gunner in the Pacific, flying 25 combat missions and awarded the purple heart for wounds received in combat.

Unlike today, in the 1960s a fair number of the stars had real-world experience in either the second greater unpleasantness or one of the local sequels.

Aesop said...

Indeed.
Was doing an Internet wander the other day. Cary Grant's WWII service consisted of making movies, like Destination: Tokyo, about a US submarine tasked with infiltrating Tokyo Bay to secure weather and other data for the upcoming Doolittle B-25 raid. He later made Operation: Petticoat, in a somewhat lighter vein, and the boat used in several scenes during the movie, made in Key West in 1958 was the Archerfish. There was a picture of the Archerfish tied up alongside several other boats in Tokyo Bay for the WWII Surrender Ceremony, alongside the sub tender Balao. Serving aboard the Balao was one Seaman Bernard Schwarz. You might know him as Tony Curtis. The next time Curtis, Grant, and Archerfish were together was making Operation Petticoat.

Lee Marvin earned his Purple Heart for taking a 7.7 round through the butt offshore from Saipan, and was later shot again in the foot.
At a prior invasion at Tarawa, a former coast guardsman later commissioned a Lt j.g. in the Navy won a Bronze Star with combat "V" for using his landing craft to pick up a total of 47 Marines while under intense shore fire, in the surrounding waters from sunk or grounded landing craft. His name Was Eddie Albert, from Green Acres, The Longest Day, and The Longest Yard.

Jimmy Stewart, originally joined the Army Air Corps as a private. Taking additional flying lessons (he was already a rated pilot before the war) at his own expense, he was discharged to accept a commission, eventually working his way up to a full colonel and wing commander of a B-24 wing. While in command of that wing, one of the men under his command was a young radio operator, eventually staff sergeant, named Walter Matthau.

Ermes Borgnino did 10 years' service in the Navy starting in 1935, leaving as a gunner's mate first class. You know him as Ernest Borgnine, Academy Award winner, commander of the PT 73, and Lee Marvin's commanding general in The Dirty Dozen.
The PITA colonel who kept trying to bust Lee Marvin and his unit in
Dirty Dozen was Robert Ryan, who in real life had been a Marine Corps drill instructor at Camp Pendleton during WWII. Marvin had been previously busted down from corporal for being a screw-up; Ryan was in all probability a sergeant when he was discharged.
(cont.)

Aesop said...

(cont.)
David Niven had graduated from Sandhurst (the British version of West Point), resigned his commission and left the military to become an actor, but returned to Britain once war broke out to serve as an infantry and later a commando officer during WWII. One of his best and lifelong friends, assigned as his batman, which was the only way a Lt. Col. and a private could be seen together in the British Army, was Private Peter Ustinov.

Victor McLaglen, 1935 Academy Award winner, and frequent sidekick with and the other half of the epic fight with John Wayne in The Quiet Man, had served twice in the British Army, first as a member of the Guards Regiment at Windsor Castle, until he was kicked out because he'd only been 14 years old when he enlisted trying to get into the Boer War. He re-enlisted (legally) when WWI broke out, and served as an infantry Captain in the Middlesex Regiment with service in the trenches of France and the Middle East. At one point he was also heavyweight boxing champion of the British Army, and between his illegal and legal enlistments, he was a boxer, wrestler, and Winnipeg police constable in Canada.

Don Rickles made it to seamen first class in 2 years' service on a torpedo boat tender during the war. Just after WWII, Gavin Macleod, from Love Boat, Operation Petticoat, Pork Chop Hill, The Sand Pebbles, and the always-negative-waves Moriarity in Kelly's Heroes, was serving his time enlisted in the Air Force band.

That's just opff the top of my head. They were all better men than the current crop of pampered Hollywood princes, and made of much sterner stuff.

But the all-time best WWII war story was delivered by WWII USAAC fighter pilot and flight instructor George Gobel, who never left Oklahoma during the war, and pointed out to Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, and Dean Martin, that that's where they must have needed him , and reminded everyone that while he served there, "there was not one Jap aircraft got past Tulsa, and we didn't even have guns in our aircraft".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbpc-NJHcZ8