Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Many Deaths of Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin was a great actor, always bringing real personality to even his more villainous role. One aspect of this can be seen in his death scenes. Marvin's onscreen deaths never involved just falling over in a lump. In real life, he was a combat veteran who had served in the Pacific during World War II, so he knew what violent death really looked like.

So he nearly always added a bit of business to his death scenes. It would be wrong to say he was hamming it up. Instead, he was doing what any great actor should--making it seem like a real person and not just a movie character was dying. You might almost say his on-screen deaths were elegant and they are an important indication of just how skilled an actor he was.

Here's a compilation of four Lee Marvin death scenes, taken from The Comancheroes (1961), Seven Men from Now (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), and The Killers (1964).  None of the characters he played in these films were in any way sympathetic, but Marvin is still able to humanize them.

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