Lee Marvin’s 44 Mag

In my other post I wrote about how I came to know actor Lee Marvin. In this one I’m going to write about how I came to own the Smith & Wesson Model 29-2 that he used in the movie Point Blank (1967).

The Year was 1979 and Lee (with his second wife Pamela) were living in Tucson, Arizona. This was the first time I visited him in his Arizona home. It would be the home he would live in with Pamela until his death in 1987.

This particular day in June of 1979 Lee and I were alone. My parents and brother, along with Pamela were out shopping and seeing the sights of Tucson. Lee’s kids weren’t living with him at the time. I didn’t mind not going with everyone else, Lee’s house was full of all kinds of fascinating things that could keep a teenage boy like me occupied for days.

Most interesting to me was Lee’s trophy room, what he simply called “his room.”

It was a huge area in the front of the house with a vaulted ceiling and large windows that filled it with sunlight. The room was jam-packed with everything Lee loved, his hunting and fishing trophies, art, books and a beautiful gun collection.

The gun collection was what captivated me the most that day and I was slowly taking in every gun he had displayed there. Lee Marvin loved guns and had a rather large collection. He had a penchant for quality, well-made firearms and he owned numerous examples of antique and modern ones that he displayed along the tall walls of that magnificent room.

Lee had two favorites, Smith & Wesson revolvers and Winchester Model 70 bolt action sporting rifles, and many fine specimens of each. His love for them could be seen in his movies roles as well, in films like The Killers (1964) and Point Blank. The scoped Winchester rifle that contract killer (James B. Sikking) uses in Point Blank was Lee’s. It was there on the wall too.

This day Lee didn’t seem in the best of moods and was definitely drinking more than I recalled. He wasn’t angry or agitated, he just seemed down. Several weeks before his ex-girlfriend Michelle Triola won a minor victory in her ongoing “Palimony” lawsuit and perhaps that was why he seemed more sullen than the Lee I remember from previous (and future) visits.

I was closely examining (not touching) the guns displayed on the walls when Lee’s distinctive voice broke the silence, “which one do you want?” I didn’t even know Lee was in the room, I thought he was somewhere else in the house. But he was there all right, back in a dark corner, sunk in an old weathered leather chair that he favored and sipping on a drink, straight bourbon I bet.

He repeated himself, “which one do you want?”

I thanked him for the thought but didn’t take him too seriously. I knew no thirteen year old could be given a gun, and while I would have loved to have one it certainly wasn’t going to happen.

I told all of this to Lee and he let me go on talking for a moment, then finally he agreed and said since he couldn’t give me a gun today he would leave me one in his will. Again he asked which one did I want.

Well, I played along. To be honest with his drinking I didn’t believe that Lee would remember the conversation the next day. Besides, he was Lee Marvin, Lee Marvin doesn’t die! After a short consideration I picked out the S&W Model 29-2 that he used in the movie Point Blank, a particular favorite of mine, and thought nothing more of it.

The conversation was forgotten until I was reminded of it in early October of 1987, about a month after Lee’s death. I was contacted by his will’s administrator and told I had inherited the S&W. Because of federal law the revolver would have to be shipped to an FFL dealer in my state. The attorney sent his contact information and requested that I have a dealer send their license so the gun could be shipped to me, a final gift from a man that I admired practically my entire life.

I picked up the Smith & Wesson on October 29th 1987 and it has been in my possession since then. It will stay in my possession until the day I die.

As I stated at the beginning this is the revolver that Lee used in the movie Point Blank. Actually, it is one of two used in the movie. Lee owned them both.

The first gun was a Model 29 (no dash) made in 1959. The second gun (mine) was a 29-2 made in 1965. The two guns were identical; both had a blue finish, 4-Inch barrel with a red ramp front sight insert, and target “Coke Bottle” grips.

My gun is what’s known as the “Hero” gun. It is the gun that Lee carries for most of the movie. For the film the Paramount prop department removed my gun’s hammer nose (firing pin) so that it was impossible for it to fire. After filming was completed the revolver was restored to working condition.

The 1959 gun was the “stunt double” for the movie. It is the gun that Lee actually fires in the film, for instance the scene where he shoots up the wife’s bedroom or the scene when he blows away Carroll O’Connor’s phone. In those specific scenes where the revolver was actually fired it’s this second gun being used with high intensity blanks. Every other scene in the film is my gun.

Along with the gun came the box and the sales slip from when Lee first bought the Smith & Wesson. The handwritten yellow receipt tells me that he originally purchased it from Mike’s Sporting Goods in West Covina, CA, 9/18/1965. Besides the gun Lee also bought two boxes of Remington Magnum ammunition. The total cost including tax was $152.55.

The revolver is in very nice shape even though it has been fired a bit. Lee was a man that always took care with his guns. I fire it on rare occasion but mostly I’ll get it out of the safe and just handle it, and remember the truly great guy that I had the honor of knowing, “Uncle” Lee.