Marvelous Marvin

Lee Marvin (1924–1987) brought a distinctive brand of amused and often bemused virility to over 60 action films from 1951 to 1986, the best of which are being shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center from May 11 to May 24. Marvin won his only acting Oscar for his dual role as a drunken good-guy cowboy and a sober bad-guy cowboy in Elliot Silverstein’s rollicking Cat Ballou (1965), with Jane Fonda and Michael Callan. Other films in the series in which Marvin was especially memorable are Robert Aldrich’s Attack (1956), with Jack Palance and Eddie Albert; John Sturges’ Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), with Spencer Tracy, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine, and Marvin as a nervy henchman; Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953), with Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Alexander Scourby, Jocelyn Brando and Jeanette Nolan; Samuel Fuller’s The Big Red One (1980), with Mark Hamill, Robert Carradine and Bobby Di Cicco; John Frankheimer’s film version of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (1973), with Robert Ryan, Jeff Bridges, Fredric March in his last role, and Marvin as one of the most memorable Hickeys in any medium; John Ford’s great twilight western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), with John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Woody Strode and Marvin as Liberty Valance; John Boorman’s scintillating semi-abstract Point Blank (1967), with Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O’Connor, Lloyd Bochner, Michael Strong and John Vernon; and Budd Boetticher’s Seven Men from Now (1956), with Randolph Scott, Gail Russell, Walter Reed, John Larch, Donald Barry, and Marvin doing one ritualized, lightning-fast gun draw too many. For dates, times and the rest of the films being shown, check with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, All films are being shown at the Walter Reade Theater, at 165 West 65th Street.