Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Three Lee Marvin films

Recently I have watched three Lee Marvin films: Seven Men from Now (1956), Point Blank (1967) and The Big Red One [restored edition] (1980). Lee Marvin was a good actor.

In Seven Men, a western, he is a villain, but his role is initially ambiguous. His granite face doesn't move much but his eyes make up for everything, expressing everything about his character. By the end I was rooting for him to survive, but instead he goes up against the sheriff one on one with inevitable consequences. This is a great movie, a gem of simplicity and style.

In Point Blank Lee Marvin is the protagonist in a John Boorman neo-noir thriller. The scenes at Alcatraz are great, and Angie Dickinson takes her clothes off (briefly). Even an amateur like me can see that this film was influential on a lot of 70's thrillers. One thing I liked is how people feel pain: a guy who Lee Marvin punches in the balls is rolling round in agony for ages. The Big Red One is a director's movie. Sam Fuller made a 270 minute version that was mercilessly cut, and it took 25 years for an unbutchered version to be released. It shows the war as a horror, and as a joke at the same time. I had always thought of Lee Marvin as a bit of a joke, but now I see he was a stylish actor. But you wouldn't want to mess with him.

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