Film

Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait

by

Maybe it’s me, but Lee
Marvin might have been the most mesmerizing, original presence American movies have ever known. With his
torpedo-shaped head, alligator eyes, snoring-dinosaur voice, and lightning-strike body English, Marvin was larger than most of his movies, a sentiment
apparently shared by buddy John Boorman, who salutes his late drinking buddy in this BBC-AMC-produced doc. Boorman folds archival glimpses of Marvin riffing on Merv Griffin et al. into new interviews with William Hurt, Jim Jarmusch, and Pamela Marvin, but mostly Boorman addresses the camera directly, sharing both carousing stories and memories of Marvin’s own barely articulated but potent moviemaking insights. (Boorman credits Marvin with teaching him, on Point Blank, how to direct actors, mostly by resisting dialogue when silence would do.) Accompanying the doc are two Marvin semiclassics, Boorman’s own Hell in the Pacific (1968) and John Ford’s The
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
(1962), in which Marvin rounded out his years as a snarling
villain.