Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lee Marvin Ain't Secondary to Me

Ahhh, another plea for sweet, transcendent companionship. A cry in the dark to join me in mutual cinematic exaltation as I show another film in in our Noir Series, Wednesday the 28th, 7:00PM, downstairs at Local 121.

The Big Heat (1953). A thoroughly nihilistic noir detective story well executed by German expatriate Fritz Lang, featuring the always underrated Glenn Ford a policeman who’s heart has turned black with vengeance. The world depicted here is a familiar noir universe—filled to the brim with suspicion, paranoia, and duality. The square-jawed and dogged Ford is both avenging angel and an impassive agent of destruction, infecting everything in his path in his lone-wolf pursuit of equity. Lang delves into the thin line between salvation and corruption, simultaneously toying with society’s notions of decency and innocence, which is to say, the treatment of women in this one is downright peculiar, even for a noir. Bonus points awarded for two great secondary players: Lee Marvin doing his young thug thang and Gloria Grahame as his dame with-a-heart.


Jeri and/or Phil said...
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Jeri and/or Phil said...

When I was a kid, my father would yell whenever Lee Marvin came on the TV screen. Oh, he yelled at plenty of other actors on the screen but when he yelled at Lee Marvin, it was different. He'd say "That guy almost got me killed on Saipan!" All of us were like "Yeah, yeah, sshh, we're trying to watch 'The Dirty Dozen'! Background info time: My father was a Navy Corpsman serving with the 2nd Marines, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Division during WWII - he was wounded in the battle for Saipan in 1944. My father didn't talk much about the war. But he did loathe "phony" actors playing soldiers and marines like John Wayne. So we kids just thought the Lee Marvin rants were just more phony actor bashing.

This past year, I was researching the battle for Saipan and remembered my father's Lee Marvin comments. So I checked out Lee Marvin's biography. It turns out Lee Marvin was in the 2nd Marines, 2nd Battalion, 4th Division. This Division landed on Saipan the same day as my father's Division just one beach over. Both Divisions then headed north up the island. So they WERE there at the same time! The thing that gets me is, how did my father recognize Lee Marvin's (eyes) face years later? He wasn't a famous actor during WWII. This one has me scratching my head. My father and Lee are gone now. Looks like I'll never know the whole story.