Biographer Dwayne Epstein announced today in an exclusive conversation with this writer that the paperback edition of Lee Marvin: Point Blank is slated for release in early summer 2014. Published by Schaffner Press, the judiciously researched book devoted to the iconic Dirty Dozen ringleader will feature additional material, including tweaked text, a section called “Topics of Conversation,” an extended author Q & A, and an introduction by a major celebrity (fingers crossed that the mystery contributor is Marvin devotee Quentin Tarantino).
Marvin was a proud three-year Marine veteran of World War II, rising only to Private First Class since he usually exhibited a strong propensity for disobeying rules. Wounded during the Battle of Saipan in 1944, a campaign that resulted in the deaths of approximately 27,000 individuals on both sides of the conflict, Marvin was bestowed such accolades as a Purple Heart and an Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.
Severely scarred by the war's horrific battles amidst an alarming dependency on alcohol, Marvin explored his fascination for violence in a plethora of later film roles in the crime, action, adventure, military, and Western genres, respectively. Sam Fuller's The Big Red One and The Delta Force, the latter drawing innumerable inspiration from The Delta Force and costarring a karate-kicking Chuck Norris, are noteworthy blood-soaked additions to Marvin's twilight years in front of the camera.
When further questioned about a specific release date, Epstein said fans could look for the paperback to coincide with either Memorial Day or Fathers' Day..."for obvious reasons." Stay tuned to this column for additional details as they develop. In the meantime, the genial, albeit rapid-fire speaking author initially appeared on-the-record regarding his favorite pastime in "Battle Scars and Violent Interludes...", which is easily accessible if you click on the link.
DON'T GO ANYWHERE YET! A fellow member of the Greatest Generation, Audie Murphy personified American heroism. He enlisted at age 17 with the help of his sister, who lied about his age. Fighting three never-ending years in the freezing European campaign, the soft-spoken gentleman won 33 awards and decorations for valor on the battlefield, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. The most decorated soldier of World War II, he was credited with saving his unit by killing an unheard-of 240 German soldiers. To learn about Murphy's most popular film, "To Hell and Back", a runaway Universal blockbuster chronicling his Army experiences that stood unrivaled until Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" usurped it 20 years later, navigate to "When a Genuine American Hero Becomes a Star..." Coincidentally, Marvin shared the screen with Murphy in a 1952 Universal shoot 'em up B-Western entitled "The Duel at Silver Creek."
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Exclusive Interview: If Lee Marvin hadn't stubbornly insisted on taking the lead role in the derided musical "Paint Your Wagon," he might have had the opportunity to star in Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch" with celebrated cult actor Warren Oates. Though not a household name, Oates lit up the screen in a 25-year career cut inexplicably short by a heart attack at age 53 in April 1982. His hardscrabble Depression-era upbringing in the predominantly coal-mining community of Depoy, Ky., no doubt influenced his honest characterizations as the voyeuristic deputy of “In the Heat of the Night,” a good-natured outlaw gang member in “The Wild Bunch,” the psychotic pill-poppin’ villain in Lee Van Cleef’s “Barquero,” a tall-tale spewing car driver in “Two-Lane Blacktop,” the sympathetic title role of “Dillinger,” and Bill Murray’s constantly exasperated sergeant in the comical “Stripes.” His pre-eminent biographer, Susan Compo, speaks in a fascinating interview [i.e. "Warren Oates: A Wild Life"] about Oates’ hell-raising and humanity, best and worst movie roles, working alongside the mercurial Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, and what she might have said to Oates if their paths had crossed.
Exclusive Interview No. 2: Actress Lee Purcell was a familiar face to cinema enthusiasts in the '70s and '80s, appearing in such popular films as Charles Bronson's action flick "Mr. Majestyk", the cult surfing drama "Big Wednesday", the high school dramedy "Almost Summer", and Nicolas Cage's breakout movie, "Valley Girl". Incidentally, her first film was "Adam at 6 A.M.", only the second starring role for the phenomenal Michael Douglas. Produced by Steve McQueen's Solar Productions, "Adam at 6 A.M." slipped by with relatively little notice in 1970. In an in-depth commentary marking the 30th anniversary of McQueen's passing, Purcell remembers her mentor with a fiery passion, including the time he took her on a 100-mile-per-hour cruise in his Porsche down the bustling streets of Los Angeles.
Exclusive Interview No. 3: Kent McCray served as Michael Landon's best man and proverbial right hand on three beloved television series –Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, and Highway to Heaven. In a wide-ranging conversation commemorating Landon's 76th birthday ["The Brother That He Never Had..."], McCray recalls their strained debut encounter, Landon's burgeoning progress as a writer and director, a few memorable practical jokes, visiting a terminally ill teenager and ensuring her controversial last request happened, and what happened when the actor didn't have a driver's license at an L.A.
Exclusive Interview No. 4: Jack Kelly had a knack for making the ladies swoon. Possessing a svelte figure, the charming cowboy became a household name when he costarred with James Garner on the seminal comedy western series, "Maverick." His biographer, Linda Alexander, recently took it upon herself to expose the actor's body of work to a new generation, and an interview seemed like the perfect place to start. In "More Than Bret Maverick's Brother: Remembering Jack Kelly On His 85th Birthday"], Alexander reveals Kelly's entry into show business at the insistence of a bona fide stage mother, his quintessential "Maverick" episodes, the ongoing Bret versus Bart debate, how Garner's contract negotiations with the network affected his costar, and whether the two were friends in real life.
Further Reading: Charles Bronson appeared in an impressive 160 television and film productions, and he never received proper credit for his understated acting and screen presence. Many fans may not realize that Bronson's only network series, the crime drama Man With a Camera, debuted while his future buddy's more popular M Squad aired on a competing network. Incidentally, the duo made their film debut together in Gary Cooper's 1951 wartime comedy You're in the Navy Now and later shared significant screen time in The Dirty Dozen and Death Hunt. To read an extensive profile detailing exactly who the star was behind his hardened tough guy persona, featuring anecdotes from costars such as James Coburn, James Garner, Tony Curtis, actress Lee Purcell, and Elvis Presley's Memphis Mafia, head on over to the following link: "A Face Like An Eroded Cliff..."
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