Lee Marvin on the big screen at American Cinematheque

Lee Marvin

One of the screen’s top tough guys, Lee Marvin (1924-1987) is being honored with a film program at the American Cinematheque. The series starts Friday, Feb. 8, and runs until Feb. 21; movies will be shown at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica and the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

The tribute to Marvin will include “Point Blank,” “The Killers,” “Cat Ballou,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” a rare print of “Hell in the Pacific” and “The Professionals.”

The New York native and former Marine (a Purple Heart recipient) was working as a plumber’s assistant when he stumbled into acting. Marvin was a natural for roles in war movies and later expanded his range to tackle more complex, nuanced parts. One of our faves: the menacing, misogynistic Vince Stone, who scalds his girlfriend Debby (Gloria Grahame) with hot coffee in 1953’s “The Big Heat.”

Jim Jarmusch

Director Jim Jarmusch once told me at a film festival (with a not completely straight face) that he had founded a group called the Sons of Lee Marvin for tall dudes with deep voices. Maybe Jarmusch will show up at a screening, provided he can find a seat with extra leg room.

Special guests to honor Marvin include “Cat Ballou” director Elliot Silverstein, author Dwayne Epstein, actor Clu Gulager and Lee Marvin’s son, Christopher Marvin. Epstein will sign copies of his book “Lee Marvin: Point Blank” at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Aero Theatre lobby before the “Point Blank” screening.  I am eagerly awaiting my review copy of Epstein’s book and am told I will receive a copy to give away to a reader. Stay tuned.

See the American Cinematheque website for the complete Lee Marvin lineup. Additionally, there are French crime films and thrillers featured in the AC tribute to composer Michel Legrand, which runs Feb. 8-26.

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