Thursday, March 14, 2013

Top 10: Lee Marvin Films

Lee Marvin was always fun to watch, with that look on his face like he knew he could fuck you up if he had to but he'd rather not.

Lee Marvin with his hardboiled attitude, voice described as the sound of a gurgling drain pipe and prematurely grey hair is an icon of late 20th century American cinema, comparable perhaps even to Humphrey Bogart in the early part of the century.

Naturally even Quentin Tarantino mentions him in one of his movies.

To celebrate the arrival of Crime Factory Publishers collection of short stories about Lee Marvin arriving in my mailbox this week (reviewed yesterday) I thought I'd select a few favourite moments from his career.

A two and a half hour western musical featuring a singing Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. Novelty value only.

9.  The Delta Force (1986) Dir. Menahem Golan

Again, I'm not saying that this is a good movie, but Lee Marvin the total badass opposite Chuck Norris the Chuck Norris in what is essentially a free for all shoot em up and exhibition of badassery? Of course it's worth watching once.

8. Cat Ballou (1965) Dir. Elliot Silverstein

His Academy Award winning role as a drunken gunfighter in a comedy western. Who'd have ever thought it of him?

7. Prime Cut (1972) Dir. Michael Ritchie

Marvin as an Irish mob enforcer tries to bust up Gene Hackman's rural Kansas sex slave farm abetted by a frequently nude Sissy Spacek. Yep, another classic American crime film from the 70s.

6. The Killers (1964) Dir. Don Siegel

When Marvin isn't on screen in this there's an energy missing, the perfect example of what he brings to a picture.

5. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) Dir. John Sturges

A minor role in what is a classic film, opposite a one armed Spencer Tracey; Lee Marvin takes one for the team as he gets knocked out in a bad way and still manages to keep his "black" hat on.

4. Hell in the Pacific (1968) Dir. John Boorman

A commercial failure but a critical success this was one of Marvin's favourite pictures; he starred opposite Toshiro Mifune as a shot-down American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain find themselves stranded on the same small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean.

3. The Big Heat (1953) Dir. Fritz Lang

Classic film noir from Lang featuring Marvin as a crazed bad guy with a penchant for smashing hot coffee pots on the faces of dames.

2. The Dirty Dozen (1967) Dir. Robert Aldrich

You've got Lee Marvin, 12 dirty badasses, an awesome training camp and a non-stop, bullets-flying-everywhere-attack on a Nazi castle in France.

1. Point Blank (1967) Dir. John Boorman

Marvin as the iconic Walker out for revenge in Boorman's stylish adaptation of Richard Stark's Hunter.

What's your favourite Lee Marvin moment? Perhaps you're yet to discover the power that is Lee? Let me know in the comments. And don;t forget you can buy LEE, the new collection of short stories from Crime Factory now.


  1. Interesting list. I love Lee Marvin's work, but I've only seen two (Bad Day at Black Rock and The Dirty Dozen) of the films you listed. More homework. :)

    1. I tried to give as wide a variety as possible, but Marvin was so good in so many pictures that to pick ten is a real challenge and doesn't do him justice. If I'd seen The Big Red One before making this list I almost certainly would have placed it high.