Here's more of the American Theater Wing interview with Lee Marvin that I've been posting all week. In this excerpt, Lee remember Henry Hathaway with fondness (instead of the fear and loathing most others recall him with) and dishes Raoul Walsh's propensity for not bothering to watch a dialogue scene while it was being shot, choosing to role a cigarette instead. Marvin also somewhat touchingly reveals that the whole reason he became an actor was due to a childhood infatuation with the movies. It's a refreshingly honest thought, given that actors of Marvin's supposed stripe usually claimed that they became actors because the pay was good or it helped them get laid or they couldn't get a job at the factory etc. etc. This was part of the generation of actors who were secretely embarrassed by their profession. But Marvin came shortly after this generation and was, as I mentioned earlier, well-bred and raised. His tone is always sincere, never self-aggrandizing and--beneath the hard-living exterior--one sees a somewhat old-fashioned 'gentleman', a thoughtful and modest sort who would never throw a cup of scalding hot coffee in a dame's face...

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  1. That quality you mention in Marvin's personality, of the old-fashioned-gentleman school, is something you also see in Humphrey Bogart, in spite of an earlier career playing snarling thugs and gangsters. Bogie also came from a well-to-do background, which probably also emphasized well-bred behavior.

    Interesting how Marvin smokes a cigarette -- you can actually hear him suck on the filter, as if he's trying to get as much out of it as he can.

  2. Bogie is a good comparison, coming as he did from a patrician and proper Manhattan background. More importantly, both men shared an underlying empathy which made their tough guy roles more nuanced--you saw the damage that lay underneath their crusty exteriors.

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