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Thursday, May 17, 2007
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Lee Marvin and Gloria Grahame as mobster and moll in Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat."
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May 6, 2007 -- I'LL never forget the day Lee Marvin stood behind me on the checkout line at the Grand Union in upstate Wood stock.

On the phone the other day with Pamela Marvin, the actor's widow (he died in 1987, at age 63), I told her about that incident.

Then she got to talking about how she and Lee grew up in Woodstock, were "boyfriend and girlfriend" for a few years right after World War II, then went their separate ways for more than 20 years, until they finally got married in 1970.

She remembers the first time she saw Lee: "[He was] great, big, tall; very handsome, very charismatic - oh my God!"

These days, Pamela divides her time between Woodstock and Tuscon, Ariz., where we tracked her down.

She'll be coming east soon for the Film Society of Lincoln Center's 22-film salute to Marvin.

Pamela will introduce some of the flicks, and people such as John Boorman (whose 1998 screen portrait of Marvin is part of the series), Keith Carradine and Mark Hamill will be at a few of the screenings.

I asked if she had any favorite Lee Marvin movies:

" 'Hell in the Pacific' [1968] was one, very much so; and then, of course, 'The Big Red One' [1980]."

Both movies are on the program at the Walter Reade Theater, along with "The Big Heat" (1953), "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), "The Killers" (1964), "Ship of Fools" (1965) and others.

My favorite Marvin movie? Fritz Lang's steamy noir "The Big Heat," in which Marvin plays a nasty thug named Vince Stone, who disfigures his girlfriend (Gloria Grahame) with a pot of hot coffee.

Glenn Ford stars as Dave Bannon, a police sergeant who goes after the mob with a vengeance after his wife is killed by a car bomb meant for him.

Pamela will be signing copies of her 1997 biography of the actor, "Lee," Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble across from Lincoln Center.

The retro, "The Coolest Lethal Weapon," runs Friday through May 24. Details at filmlinc.com

* Free movies are rare, but here's one: The Japanese chiller "Ghost Train" (2006) will unreel at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Tribeca Grand Hotel (2 Sixth Ave.). The director is Takeshi Furusawa, who worked as an assistant to Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Admission is free, but reservations are required, at newyork-tokyo.com/rsvp

* If you, like me, enjoy films from the Balkans, visit the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival on Friday and Saturday at the Tribeca Cinemas. Full schedule:


V.A. Musetto is film editor of The Post; vam@nypost.com

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