From Pamela with Love
By most accounts, Lee Marvin was a decorated war veteran proud but not boastful of his military service, an acclaimed actor always aware of the struggle behind so-called instant stardom, a functioning alcoholic who never let it show on screen and a caustic wit and rambunctious hellraiser when he did let go off-screen. After a failed first marriage to Betty Eberling and a litigious relationship with Michelle Triola that added the word palimony to the American lexicon, Marvin reencountered and soon married his childhood sweetheart Pamela Feeley in 1970, a union that stuck until his untimely August 29, 1987 death. Encouraged by director John Boorman (Point Blank, Hell in the Pacific), one of the Marvins’ closest friends in the actor’s last two decades, Pamela penned the 1997 memoir Lee: A Romance, which was judged a candid, affectionate and acutely personal portrait of a complex guy fond of simple, earthy pleasures. Ten years after that, in 2007, future Twilight Time co-founders Brian Jamieson (the Warner Bros. studio veteran who spearheaded filmmaker Richard Schickel’s 2004 reconstruction of Marvin’s late-career triumph The Big Red One, written and directed by Samuel Fuller) and Nick Redman (an authority on Sam Peckinpah Oscar® nominated for the 1996 documentary short The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage and director of the admired 2007 documentary Becoming John Ford) visited Pamela Marvin at the Tucson, AZ, home she and Lee Marvin shared and filmed her reminiscing about her late, great husband. Lee Marvin is already an indispensible part of the TT hi-def Blu-ray library via three scorchingly memorable movies: The Big Heat, Violent Saturday and Emperor of the North. But next week’s debut of TT’s disc of Lee Marvin’s Academy Award®-winning performance in Cat Ballou presented the ideal opportunity to share Pamela’s clear-eyed yet undeniably emotional memories from those filming sessions in the 34-minute Redman-directed Lee and Pamela: A Romance. The “macho” icon’s widow offers a touching portrait of a man infinitely more thoughtful and gentle than his public persona; having survived intense fighting and near-fatal wounds as a Marine Raider in World War II’s Pacific theater, he disliked the cartoonishy brutal violence of one of his greatest hits, The Dirty Dozen. She stoically discusses his lifelong struggles with alcohol as well as the serenity of his later life in the desert Southwest. Among the rareties glimpsed are private Marvin family photos and memorabilia, as well as home movies of the Marvins pursuing their annual grand passion of sport fishing trips in the oceans off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where across the years Marvin landed 11 marlins weighing over 1,000 pounds each. With stirring music composed by Christopher Caliendo (the 2005 extended cut of Peckinpah’s Major Dundee, also from TT), Lee and Pamela: A Romance makes TT’s Cat Ballou even more of a must-own. You can read interviews that Boorman (who wrote the foreword to the book Lee and Pamela: A Romance) and Pamela Marvin gave to The London Independent at the time of publication here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/how-we-met-john-boorman-and-pamela-marvin-1168277.html. Boorman’s own 1998 tribute, Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait by John Boorman, can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fg4e8gZups.