Lee Marvin: The Coolest Lethal Weapon
May 11 – 24, 2007
In celebrating the many faces of Hollywood’s steely-eyed hero, we dedicate this program to Pamela Marvin, Lee’s widow and the author of the book Lee: A Romance. She will introduce some films during the first & second weekend of this 20-film event. Other guests are also expected to attend and introduce some of the screenings. These shows are indicated by an asterisk (*) in the Program Overview.
Due to the efforts of Pamela Marvin and courtesy of Warner Brothers, we are delighted to screen a brand-new 35mm print of The Dirty Dozen. This classic 1967 film will be shown Sunday, May 13, at 8:15 p.m. and Wednesday, May 23, at 1:30 p.m. Please note that these screenings of The Dirty Dozen will replace the screening of Bad Day at Black Rock originally scheduled at 8:15pm on Sun May 13 and the screening of The Professionals originally scheduled at 1:45pm on Wed May 23.
The very mention of Lee Marvin’s name conjures up terror mixed with amusement, as no other screen meanie inhabited as many contradictory qualities as this natural-born, elegant lethal weapon. To director Robert Aldrich, Marvin managed to be “suspicious, cynical, sophisticated, anti-establishment, a son-of-a-bitch and a hero with a love for his fellow men.” He could even be romantic on occasion, sort of tender and a little sad. Whatever the description, one thing is certain: he introduced a new kind of violent spirit to film, both unexpected and untamable.
This long overdue retrospective of Lee Marvin’s work aims to show him in a variety of roles: westerns, comedies, dramas, and most authentically on the battlefield. A decorated Marine in World War II and a genuine war hero, Marvin was repairing a toilet at a community theater in Woodstock when he was asked to replace an ailing actor, falling in love with the new profession. In his early days, Marvin played heavies. Yet each of his villains is distinctive, as the actor progressed into playing quieter, more thoughtful cynics with a streak of unpredictable hostility. When Marvin matured and gained his signature silvery hair and amused smirk, he began to use his lean body as gracefully as a ballet dancer striding across the stage. With The Professionals, The Dirty Dozen and Point Blank, he became a bona fide star, though still a fighter for clarity, for the unconventional moment, for the psychological truth of each character. William Hurt––no slouch in the truth department himself––said that everything he learned about screen acting, he learned from Lee Marvin.
Calendar to view the schedule, film descriptions and, to purchase tickets online.
Read the article by Brynn White from the May/June issue of Film Comment magazine in which she pays tribute to Lee Marvin’s enduring tough-guy charisma.
In conjunction with the Film Society’s screenings, the Museum of Television and Radio will show two of Marvin’s television appearances, May 11-13 and 18-20: the timely The American, directed by John Frankenheimer, and People Need People, an Alcoa Premiere episode directed by Alex Segal.
Special thanks to Giulia D'Agnolo Vallan, Brian Jamieson, Jake Perlin and