Saturday, November 19, 2011

468. Point Blank (1967)

Running Time: 92 minutes
Directed By: John Boorman
Written By: Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, from the novel The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake
Main Cast: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O'Connor
Click here to view the trailer


I actually started watching this a couple of night ago, but just didn't have the energy to give it my full attention. As I started and watched the first five minutes of "Point Blank", I kind of got the feeling, for no reason at all, that I wasn't going to like it. First impressions can be deceiving.

Lee Marvin is Walker, an everyman with, what we can only assume, is a criminal background. When his best friend Reese (Vernon) asks for his help in doing a job, Walker agrees. The job is to take place on Alcatraz Island and involves heisting a large sum of money from an organized crime organization that uses the island to make drops. When the deed is done, Reese turns on Walker, shooting him twice and leaving him to die in a prison cell. Well, the bullet wounds don't kill Walker, but they might have made him a little bit stronger and they definitely make him more determined to get vengeance on his former partner and his wife, who also turned on Walker back on Alcatraz and sided with Reese. However, it seems that Reese has used the money he lifted to buy his way back into the organized crime business. Now, if Walker wants to regain the $93,000 that he "earned" alongside Reese, he's going to have to go through more than a few gangsters. Angie Dickinson co-stars as Walker's sister-in-law Chris, who somehow gets herself involved in this whole mess.

This shouldn't take too long, so I'll try my best to keep it short and sweet. Well, my first impressions turned out to be wrong and I actually ended up liking "Point Blank" a good deal. But let's tackle the bad first, shall we. I have a strong hunch (and don't ask me why) that this is a prime case where the book is a lot better than the film. It just seems like this was a pretty cut and dry story, however there were certain parts of the storytelling here that I wasn't fond of. Certain uses of colors and the way things were photographed sometimes just didn't match up with the type of story that was being told. This is a story that could have stood just fine on it's own merits, but instead I think one too many artistic liberties were taken and AT TIMES, the whole production came off as a sort of statement of the times, rather than a cool gangster/revenge flick, which is what it was when you stripped away the fact from the fancy. Certain shots, like the one in the storm drain river bed, worked REALLY well for me (I'll never forget that entire sequence - such a nice wide open space and a real beautiful shooting location), while others just didn't - certain dream sequences involving Walker's dead wife Lynne, the use of color in Reese's penthouse - these are examples of shots and images that just didn't seem to quite fit in.

Otherwise there's not much more to nitpick over. Lee Marvin is quickly turning into a favorite of mine and I'll have to be sure and make a note of him for future reference. While I'm touching on cast, I have to say it was a real treat seeing Carroll O'Connor emerge as a figurehead of the criminal underworld. I've always been a fan of "All in the Family", but I don't think I've ever seen O'Connor out of his Archie Bunker regalia. Angie Dickinson was quite the little find as well - beautiful and a good enough actress. The story is great and just when you think the climax is coming, the film loads up another one and fires it at us and we follow Walker along like obedient puppies, hoping that he ices a few more thugs along the way. They keep the film, as a whole, short and to the point (at just around ninety minutes), which is good, because everything is kept nice and concise and there's not a lot of room for unwarranted scenes.


On a final note, I will pose a question to anyone who may be reading this. I've got to admit that I was a little confused by the end of the picture. At the end, Walker is to accompany Brewster (O'Connor) back to Alcatraz Island so that he can collect his $93,000. The ending happens and when the film comes to a close, the frame pans up to reveal Alcatraz Island off in the distance. WTF? I thought we were ON Alcatraz already. It seems like some sort of twist that I just didn't pick up on.

RATING: 7/10 All this talk about Alcatraz has reminded me of another, even better movie, "Escape from Alcatraz" (1979 - Don Siegel), another film that could have EASILY been included in THE BOOK. As for "Point Blank" - recommended. By the way, I may do "Deliverance" soon, as sort of a John Boorman follow-up.


November 19, 2011 12:17am


  1. I really looked forward to this one.. I love 'Nor', and I've seen this listed as neo-noir so many times I watched it with an already posative opinion.
    I'm afraid I was dissapointed. Why, Im afraid I cannot say. I can live with classic Noir era heros hitting first, asking why/who later, but Walker I just saw as a thug and didn't much bother about his justified grievance. Perhaps I should see it again.. I've read so may mentions of it that say it's good, I must have missed something.
    Perhaps I sat down expecting to see, if not The Big Sleep, then at least Chinatown or LA Confidential.

  2. Yeah, I really didn't view this as a neo-noir though. It had a noir-ish character in Walker and a noir-ish plot, but it just didn't have that feel that made it feel like a neo-noir film. Hard to explain.


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