“How Bad Could I Be? What Would I Do? What Could I Do?”

Lee Marvin on playing the diabolically violent Liberty Valance in John Ford’s masterpiece (one of them, anyway), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:

“It was fun for me to play that dangerous guy. It was a dangerous kind of a character. One of the bad facets of yourself that you blow up. Well, that’s intellectual. I don’t hang out there too much, you know. But still: how bad could I be? What would I do? What could I do? So I think one of the fun things of acting is to put on the bad rags, and get paid for it too, and not kill anybody.”

This entry was posted in Actors and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “How Bad Could I Be? What Would I Do? What Could I Do?”

  1. DBW says:

    One of my favorites. This photo is right before he threatens to put one right between Jimmy Stewart’s eyes. A couple of Liberty’s minions are played by Strother Martin and Lee Van Cleef–both of whom I always enjoy watching. And Lee Marvin is fantastically nasty in this. Throw in the Duke, Andy Devine, and a great speech from John Carradine, and you’ve a got a really fun flick.

  2. sheila says:

    So nasty – and legitimately frightening. You know? It’s hard to make a villain legitimately frightening – especially when you are up against someone so powerful as John Wayne. But Marvin is relaxed, he laughs a lot, and yet you get the sense that you never know what he is going to do. Shoving the newspaper into Peabody’s open mouth is one of the most violent moments in the picture!

    And John Wayne plays heartbreak like no one else. Maybe because he’s so fearless, but also juxtaposed against his powerful physique … he always brings me to tears in this, his devastation at losing the girl – and he shows it by his gestures – the way he lights his cigarette, the way he almost loses his footing as he walks – like Life has suddenly become a howling wilderness, the air full of broken glass.

    So good!

  3. sheila says:

    Oh man and yes, Valance’s minions are truly DERANGED!

  4. DBW says:

    Think back, pilgrim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.