Actors: Lee Marvin
Favorite introduction: Charlie Storm in the Killer (1964)
Funny facts: In this remake of the classic film Noir the Killers (1946), directed by Don Siegel, Lee Marvin plays a professional hitman who was sent to kill Johnny North (John Cassavets) along with Clue Gallagher. Marvin received top billing, the first in his acting career.
The project was originally for the small screen. The head of Universal Studios at the time, Liu Wasserman, saw how well the movies worked on TV and decided to develop works exclusively for that format. The TV movie Johnny North was adapted into theatrical release The Killers (1964) for two reasons: it was too violent for TV and Lee Marvin was too good.
According to Marvin’s biographer Dwayne Epstein, Marvin’s dedication to intensity and his craft (despite being shown in a drunken state on set) “turned an otherwise medium project into a full-fledged watershed production where Lee Marvin was the catalyst.” Epstein said: “As a silver-haired, granite-faced, middle-aged man of violence, Lee Marvin came to represent the concerns of the time.” Although it was Marvin’s favorite movie, it was the least favorite of co-star Ronald Reagan. He disliked playing the role of a villain, a rarity for the actor and this was his last film before it turned into a career in politics.