Lee Marvin! Hit Man, Tough Guy & Emperor, Too! Hollywood’s Coolest Tough Guy!

It’s that time of year when you have to decide who you like – and everyone likes someone who knows how to play it cool…the “coolest” guy in the room…


Meet Hollywood’s Coolest Guy

George Clooney is currently Hollywood’s “coolest” guy, with Brad Pitt probably close behind…but looking back, there were a number of “cool” guys like Paul Newman, Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum, but it is time to introduce you to one of Hollywood’s all-time coolest guys – Lee Marvin!

Lee Marvin died in 1987 after a career full of “tough” roles – he was known for his gravelly voice, shock of white hair and his 6 ft 2 inch height…

Let’s look at three roles that cemented his reputation for being tough…


Point Blank – Directed by John Boorman – 1967.

You want “cool”? Then check out “Point Blank”, where his single-minded determination to get what’s his lays waste to anyone who gets in his way, with a “coolness’ that permeated every frame of the film. Check out this trailer!

The plot of “Point Blank” is simple, and that is what makes it SO GOOD: After being double-crossed and left for dead, a mysterious man named Walker single-mindedly tries to retrieve the money that was stolen from him.

Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Carrol O’Connor star in this classic action thriller. Lee Marvin plays Walker, a guy who just wants his money – nothing more, NOTHING LESS, as he tells O’Connor:

Brewster: You’re a very bad man, Walker, a very destructive man! Why do you run around doing things like this?
Walker: I want my money. I want my $93,000.
Brewster: $93,000? You threaten a financial structure like this for $93,000? No, Walker, I don’t believe you. What do you really want?
Walker: I – I really want my money.
Brewster: Well, I’m not going to give you any money and nobody else is. Don’t you understand that?


Walker: Somebody’s got to pay.

When Lee Marvin says “somebody’s got to pay”, he means it, because he is just that cool…and tough.

SOMEBODY’S GOT TO PAY!

That’s the plot – he wants his money back, and heaven help those who stand in his way…

He’s not only the toughest of tough guys, but he’s also the coolest guy in the room by far…

Marvin was a movie star for decades, with such smash hits a “The Dirty Dozen” and “Cat Ballou”, but “Point Blank” was the film that made him the coolest guy in Hollywood…

Lee Marvin confirmed just how tough he was when he took on Ernest Borgnine in a fight to the death – on a moving train!

Emperor Of The North Pole

Lee Marvin goes toe-to-toe with Ernest Borgnine in this violent battle of wills set in the great depression. Check out this tough as nails trailer:

Interestingly, right after the film was released, nervous Executives decided that audiences might be confused with the title “Emperor Of The North Pole” – worried that people would think the movie was about Santa Claus – so they shortened the title to “Emperor Of The North”!

Here is the plot: during the great depression, hobos rode the rails…like “‘A’ number one”, played with the ultimate coolness by Marvin….and these hobos are truly hated by Shack – played by Ernest Borgnine – Shack is a sadistic railway conductor who swears that no hobo will ride his train for free.

That’s the set up – as Marvin puts his life at stake to become a local legend – as the first person who survives the trip on Shack’s notorious train.

And the rest of the movie is the battle for supremacy, a violent, no hold barred battle of these two tough guys…

You first meet Conductor Borgnine as he torments a young kid who makes the fatal mistake of riding Shack’s train:

Shack: Got yourself a game leg, hey kid? You should have jumped off! That would have been the smart thing to do. You should have jumped Kid! I got to hand it to you kid, you’re smart. You play both sides against the middle. Have your self a high old time. But now it’s lasted long enough. Oh, you can keep running kid, but you’re running out of train!
[Shack laughs as the hobo falls over the cupola of the caboose]

[Steadying his sledge-hammer]
Shack: But now I’m going to show you what happens to people who ride on my train without a ticket.

Yep, he then “uses” the sledge hammer on the hobo…

The film’s title refers to a joke among hobos during the Great Depression that the world’s best hobo was “Emperor of the North Pole”, a way of poking fun at their own desperate situation since somebody ruling over the North Pole would be ruling over a wasteland.

Keith Carradine co-stars as a young drifter. It was Director Robert Aldrich’s intention that the characters played by Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin and Keith Carradine represented the Establishment, the Anti-Establishment and the Youth of Today.

This is a great film about the depression, the rough world of hobos trying to survive, and great acting and action from Lee Marvin…

For his next film, Lee Marvin saves a naked Sissy Spacek from the mob…here’s a teaser:


Prime Cut – Directed by Michael Ritchie – 1972

Lee Marvin plays his toughest role ever, as an “Enforcer” for the Mob, who heads to Kansas City to get the money that Gene Hackman owes the Mob..

Oh yeah, Hackman’s not really interested in paying back what he owes…and from then on out, the fight is on!

Hackman plays a cattle rancher who not only grinds his enemies into sausage, but sells women as sex slaves.

The movie was considered highly risqué for its time based on its level of violence, as well as its graphic depiction of female slavery, including a scene depicting the auctioning of young women in the manner of beef cattle.

Gene Hackman digs into his role as the bad guy, but it’s Marvin to kick ass and takes no prisoners. There is a scene where Marvin and Sissy Spacek are chased through a wheat field by a shredder…a great action sequence.

Marvin and Spacek have a great rapport in the film, as he takes on a “father figure” role to help her escape from the bad guys…

A couple of years before she catapulted to stardom in “Carrie”, Sissy Spacek co-stars, and does a great job in the role…

This was Sissy Spacek’s feature film debut – and involves a lot of nudity.

Marvin and Gene Hackman have a number of great scenes together, a couple of tough guys chewing up the scenery in a great B-movie.

But at the end of day, nobody beats Lee Marvin, the coolest guy in town.

Check out these films, as well as his others, like the classic war film “The Dirty Dozen”…this is one tough guy!

Now here is the irony of this post: Lee Marvin won the Oscar for Best Actor of 1965 – in a comedic role!

Marvin won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Actor for his comic role in the offbeat Western “Cat Ballou”, starring alongside Jane Fonda. He may have won an Oscar for comedy, but he was Hollywood’s coolest tough guy…



Categories: 70's Cinema, Awards, Film Noir, Grindhouse, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies

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2 replies

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  1. Incredible Cinema With A Capital “E!” My “Movies A-Z” Countdown Continues! – johnrieber
  2. 70’s Gritty Action Movie “Prime Cut!” Lee Marvin! Gene Hackman! Sissy Spacek’s VERY Revealing Debut! – JR-Sploitation!

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