Point Blank (1967)
“Wherever you go, trouble finds you out.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Indeed, Marvin stays uncannily calm, cool, and collected as he carries out his deliberate quest to first annihilate the seemingly untouchable Vernon, and then collect the money he is owed, going as high up as he needs to on the organizational food chain.
Peary writes that director “John Boorman’s cult film boasts interesting characters, choice locales (around L.A., at Alcatraz prison), and virtuoso camera and editing techniques.”
He adds that “the extremely violent action sequences are particularly well handled” and “the film’s audacious style and unusual dialogue have made it extremely popular in Europe.”
He points out that Marvin — fresh off of his Oscar win for Cat Ballou (1965) and filming in The Dirty Dozen (1967) — “has one of his best roles” playing “his scariest character since he played villains”; as described in TCM’s article, “Lee Marvin moves with the precision of a machine, cold, calculating, relentless; he could be the predecessor to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s annihilating cyborg in The Terminator (1984).”
It’s impossible to imagine this film without Marvin, whose central performance is — well, dead-on. He is a freaking Terminator, but can one blame him given all he’s been through? His single-minded violence stands in interesting contrast with smarmy Vernon, who menaces beautiful Dickinson:
… but not for long. Meanwhile, the movie is filled with jarring action sequences, memorable imagery, and creative use of location shooting throughout California.
This flick remains well worth a look, and has held up well.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
One thought on “Point Blank (1967)”
First viewing (4/26/22). Must-see, as a satisfying Boorman flick that should appeal to most ffs. As posted in ‘Revival House of Camp & Cult’ (fb):
“Most accidents happen within 3 miles of home.”
‘Point Blank’: How had I not seen this electric film before?!
On its surface, ‘PB’ is a simple revenge thriller: someone has done Lee Marvin’s character wrong – and LM wants the guy dead. What complicates things is that the wrongdoer (John Vernon) is ‘in bed with’ an oddly-Parallax View-esque outfit known obliquely (and therefore appropriately) as ‘The Organization’. Getting to Vernon is going to be difficult because he’s protected on all sides… by a whole, big buncha guys.
This was the first major film from John Boorman – if you put aside (and you should) his debut ‘Having a Wild Weekend’, the now-forgotten Dave Clark Five flick that wishes it were ‘A Hard Day’s Night’. (It’s basically unwatchable.)
What’s uncomplicated in plot becomes complex in the telling. When LM’s Walker was betrayed, his life became fragmented – which is reflected in Boorman’s structural use of editing in the film’s earlier sequences, and again in the latter part of the story. This judicious cutting isn’t just effective, it’s also meaningful in terms of Walker’s psyche. He’s constantly trying to keep up with ‘how the pieces fit’.
Helping him keep up is Angie Dickinson as his wife’s sister. Angie’s Chris herself is in with the mysterious mob but she’s not particularly vulnerable. … Or is she? (Dickinson isn’t called on to do much here – and her role risks being called ‘thankless’, but what she does with the little she’s given to do is admirable.)
Through large sections of the film, Boorman encouraged his cast to underplay, making the resultant effect creepier. There’s little room in the film for anything but serious business – except the one time that Walker makes a joke (quoted above). Marvin’s delivery of the line is priceless.
Co-stars: Carroll O’Connor, Lloyd Bochner & Keenan Wynn.