Menu

Farewell, Marvin of the Movies

His name was Marvin Eisenman, but most of his film-buff pals knew him as Marvin of the Movies. He wasn’t a trained archivist or a professional librarian, but he kept careful track of all 42,000 movies in his collection and offered copies to friends, friends of friends, filmmakers, researchers, and scholars. He never asked for a nickel in return, so far as I know. His reward was the satisfaction of providing movies to people who wanted to see them. It was just as simple as that.

Marvin just passed away at the age of 83, and I will miss him—and his boundless enthusiasm. A mutual friend admitted to me that he was “the opposite of a critic.” He liked everything.

When I was working on a revised edition of my Classic Movie Guide I decided to add some B-movie musicals of the 1940s that Bruce Goldstein had screened at Film Forum in New York. The only problem: I hadn’t seen a number of them. So I called Marvin. As I rattled off titles (Mister Big, Moonlight in Havana, Earl Carroll Sketchbook) he’d—

—respond, “Got it…just got an upgrade on that…I think I have that on vhs,” and so on. A week later I had a stack of DVDs on my doorstep. Some of them looked great while others were barely watchable, copies of copies of 16mm transfers or old broadcasts, but at least I could check them out.

Marvin spent most of his career managing grocery stores, including the fabled Hollywood Ranch Market, where he got to meet a number of actors and others in the movie industry. When his wife became ill some years ago he bought his first video player, to amuse her, and discovered that he could not only watch old movies, but acquire them.

It’s an early Anthony Mann credit, but you won’t find it on Netflix. Marvin of the Movies had a copy.

As he accumulated films, first on vhs and then on DVD, he started trading with other collectors around the world, always on the prowl for a rare or elusive title. If you challenged him to dig up something rare he took it almost as a dare and usually came through. At last count, on his computer, he had 42,000 titles including feature films, shorts, cartoons, and television episodes.

The story goes that one day producer Howard Koch was looking for a screening copy of The Manchurian Candidate, which had been out of circulation for many years. He called Marvin, who said he could provide a copy. Marvin then heard Koch say, “Hey, Frank, he’s got it!” That earned him an autographed photo from Old Blue Eyes, one of many souvenirs he collected for doing similar favors.

Sure, some people with clout could call a studio archivist, but setting up a screening of a 35mm print isn’t a simple matter, and a projectionist has to be paid. And studios can’t be bothered with requests from every former star or supporting player who wants to get ahold of a film they made years ago. Marvin was only too happy to help, and made the process a matter of a phone call.

Marvin Eisenman leaves behind his second wife Elaine, three children from his first marriage, five stepchildren, sixteen grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and a large number of friends and fellow movie nuts who will be eternally grateful to this genial gentleman. He was a fixture in our lives, and it will be hard to deal with his loss. God bless you, Marvin of the Movies.

To see Marvin in action, click HERE.

30 comments

  1. Joe W says:

    Sorry for writing out the web address, but this site does it to prevent Spammers. When you get to the site, type in his name and you will see a couple of pictures of him along with his LA Times Bio.

  2. Joe W says:

    I loved listening to Marvin on Ira Fistell. The two of them really connected and Ira let Marvin into all of our lives, especially with his remarriage and other things. I have created an online memorial to him and hope to pay my respects to his grave soon. You can find it on Find A Grave dot com under his name.

  3. Douglas says:

    Twenty years ago I wrote Marvin about an old movie from the 1950s ["The Frogmen"]. I only got to see part of it when I was 12 years old because my dad had an appointment and I had to leave the theater. Marvin sent it to me…..it made my day and I was eternally grateful.

  4. roz says:

    miss you dad so much, there are so many times i have needed you since you are gone

    love you

  5. rosalun says:

    MISS YOU AND MORE EACH DAY, i MISS TALKING TO YOU AND i MISS YOU ASKING HOW YA DOING, lOVE YOU DAD

  6. me says:

    I love you and miss you more and more every day, thank God I have the videos you made with barbara schroeder

  7. Bryan Gershkowitz says:

    I look back at this article today and many other times over the last 2 months. I was so lucky to have my Papa Marvin but he was also so lucky to have all of you! I cannot ever remember a time where Papa Marvin couldn’t make me a copy of the movie I was looking for. With the smile that could light up a room and his hair perfectly styled he was indeed an angel. He means so much to me as I carry his lessons with me today. He is still very missed and I find it hard to believe he is no longer her in body, yet only here in spirit. He made my life so amazing and I will be eternally grateful for everything he added to my life. To everyone he was Marvin of the Movies, but to me he was my amazing Papa Marvin. He is still so much missed. IT was only the last two weeks of his life that he was truly ill and so when i see pictures of him so lively and grasping the goodness life has to offer, I forget that he is gone. His presence is still very much with the movie industry that he loved so much! He is still very much a part of everyones life, even though his has ended. Papa Marvin I will never forget you. There is no way to describe you other than simply amazing. I love you and miss you tremendously. You were a wonderful person and are an amazing spirit.
    Love always,
    Your Grandson,
    Bryan Gershowitz

  8. Mary Love says:

    Marvin, my dear and precious friend – nearly 40 years – it would take a book to list the extraordinary virtues and goodness that I know to be true of you. A few: Caring and helpful (to everyone), amazing intellect; keen wit: sharp sense of humor; uncomplaining; Uncompromised sense of justice and honor; zoie de vivre. A gentleman always. Your friendship has enriched my life. I thank you for being you.
    Remain in God’s bliss, until we meet again. “Softly be thy resting place, my friend”. You have left a major footprint. Mary Love

  9. Stephen Rebello says:

    Just beautiful, Leonard. What a remarkable and irreplaceable man Marvin was.

  10. Jamie says:

    I am Marvin’s great niece. I am so thankful that I was able to have such a great person in my life. Every time I saw him he asked me if I saw a specific movie and was always eager to make me a copy for me. I feel blessed that he was in my life and the memories I have of him will stay with me forever. One of my favorite memories was calling the radio station to talk to him about a movie I had seen. Even though it is unreal that he has passed away but I am grateful for the times we shared. I feel blessed that I was one of the few that got to say farewell to such an incredible man.
    I love you Uncle Marvin… you will be in my heart always and forever <333

  11. Emilie Eisenman Covington says:

    I was Marvin’s first cousin, our fathers were brothers. I remember when we were children we spent every Saturday at our Grandmothers in Boyle Heights. All the cousins would go to the movies in the afternoon, but Marvin would go by himself across the street because he loved to watch the “cliff hangers”
    Marvin was 5 days younger than I am and always teased me about being older. We have remained very close with lunches and phone calls all these years and I will miss him very much.
    Your cousin, Emilie

  12. Woody Wise says:

    Marvin has been my friend for over 30 years. Not much I can say that has not been already said. I will miss him as will the hundreds of movie buffs and friends whose life he has touched.
    Woody Wise

  13. Michelle McClintock says:

    I was shocked and saddened to find that Marvin made his transition. I live in one of his rental properties and would enjoy listening to his old stories and sage life advice. I regret that I didn’t get to say goodbye and only wish I knew that the last time I saw him would be the last time. Marvin was one of the most friendly, energetic and kind men that I’ve ever met. He will be missed. God Bless to the family.

  14. Randy Skretvedt says:

    I remember hearing Marvin on Ira Fistell’s KABC radio show. He had a boundless enthusiasm for old movies and loved to share them in every possible way. I try to emulate him with old records! God bless you, Marvin. Thank you, Leonard, for writing this beautiful tribute.

  15. Claire Lockhart says:

    I was at Eddie Brandt’s last Christmas looking for my favorite childhood Christmas movie: THE HOLLY AND THE IVY. (I’m British.) Eddie’s wonderful staff informed me sadly they’d had a copy but it hadn’t been returned in many, many years. Suddenly this lovely older man, who was making small talk with me about B-Westerns and Republic serials, casually told a staff member he had a copy he would happily give them. And so I had a copy of THE HOLLY AND THE IVY just in time for Christmas. My boyfriend and I joked later that the man hadn’t really existed and was, in fact, a Christmas angel. But he turned out to be Marvin of the Movies. Thank you, Marvin. I’ll always remember you fondly.

  16. Matt Levy says:

    The world will miss this man. He was a kind and fair person who always helped when people needed it. I personally will miss you and thank you for your friendship.

    Love

    Matt

  17. Rosalyn Savage, Judy Rundle & Leon Eisenman says:

    Farewell to our beloved father on your final journey. You are missed and we will cherish your memory forever.

    See ya

    Rosalyn, Judy and Leon

  18. Stephen Michael Shearer says:

    Dear Leonard,

    Thank you so much for this loving tribute to a man who will be so very missed.
    There is a reason people like Marvin of the Movies was placed on this earth. His own dedicated passion for movies was more than selfish, self-indulgent pleasure. It was his breath of life. And like a good deciple, he gave of his knowledge and acute wisdom of film to everyone he met.
    We are in debt to Marvin for preserving and generously sharing our cultural film history.
    Possibly what this world should have right now are more people like the memorable Marvin Eisenman.

  19. Lon Goddard says:

    I am heartbroken. Marvin Eisenmann was the true crusader in the world of films. He was and is a cinematic legend and he was my friend. “Marvin Of The Movies” had so many more, knew so much more and loved films so passionately more than anyone on else earth, that he simply cannot be gone. I will not let him be gone and therefore, he is not. He will always be right here yakking with me on the phone late at night while recording everything in the world, because everything is possible in the movies. Talk to you tomorrow, Marvin.

  20. Richard W. Bann says:

    I used to see Marvin at Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee when I’d go in there to get a screener on some obscure title. Eddie himself just passed as well. They will be missed. Both men loved and knew old movies, all movies.

  21. James Tate says:

    Great guy. Got to meet him last summer. Spent a day cruising with Marvin.

  22. Barbara Schroeder says:

    So glad I had the chance to meet and interview Marvin, who blew me away with his recall and memory. His best line was about what he would do if he didn’t watch movies, “What would I do.. read?” he asked incredulously, “It takes too long!”

    When he saw the story we did on him (link above) he was very happy, said he loved the last shot, and he giggled a bit. A true original!

    Warmest condolences to his family.

  23. Larry Gassman says:

    I really didn’t knowMarvin but heard him almost every Friday evening on Ira Fistell’s show on KABC Los Angeles. Frequently my twin brother John and I did Ray Briem’s show wich would deal with Old Time Radio. marvin would frequently call in to talk about stars of film who also were featured in programs from radio’s golden age. Marvin wa a true film resource and a wonderful man who will be missed.
    Larry gassman

  24. Karen in NYC says:

    What a lovely tribute. I am sorry I missed out on knowing this wonderful gentleman, but I celebrate his life and amazing generosity.

  25. Bookeyes says:

    I just clicked on the YouTube segment on Marvin you listed as a link in this story.
    How brilliant of Marvin to choose life over atrophy. That’s a lesson for us all.
    Thanks for sharing this story. Thanks to all people who’s passion saves and preserves our creative heritage.

  26. RANDY T. says:

    The end of an era.

    Marvin, I never knew when we first met all those years ago that you would come to mean so much to me and, in many ways, alter my life. We met on that common ground legions have shared with you—our love of old movies. But you, as a man and a friend, came to be so much more. I know your spirit and good cheer will always be with us. And, yes, I’ve probably contracted more than a speck of your cantankerous streak (don’t deny it!) along the way.

    You might have referred to your calling as “beyond” an addiction. Truth be known, it was your quest. And it was endless. You were our point man. To the last, you kept a pace that would leave the most die-hard fanboys gasping for breath and grasping for knowledge. You mattered to so many and sparked the lives around you in countless ways.

    Stay close to us.

  27. Bryan Gershkowitz says:

    Papa Marvin you are incredible. i love you so much and you were the most amazing Papa I could ever have. You deserve the best and this article is an amazing way to say goodbye to you. You are so loved and so missed and I am glad that everyone sees the amazing person you are. Thank you for helping everyone always! I love you and you have made my life so great!

  28. Steve says:

    A very moving tribute.

  29. Rosalyn Eisenman Savage says:

    My father IS MARVIN OF THE MOVIES. He was extremely ill for the past two weeks, however, he believed he was going home to live a quieter life. On Easter Sunday the doctor told him his chances were extremely slim. My father loved his family and friends but his true love was movies and film. All of his movie friends filled his life and I believe gave him a strong reason to live. He felt it was his duty to be there for all of you. I am trying to reach as many of his contacts as possible. If you want to contact me regarding my dad, please email me at rxs3646@lausd.net and we will respond. Thank you for loving my dad as much as we do and I will close by saying as my father said “HOW YA DOING?”

  30. BARBARA says:

    THANK YOU!
    THANK YOU!
    THANK YOU!

    Marvin would have loved it!

Leave a Reply

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Ad

PODCAST

 photo MALTIN_ON_NOVIES_AD2_zpsboz6pvfm.png

PAST MALTIN ON MOVIES PODCASTS

APPEARANCES/BOOKING

 photo MALTIN_APPEARANCESON_NOVIES_AD_v2_zpscy41sntv.png

Ad

CALENDAR

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031