Classic noir thriller finally available on DVD
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 07/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leave it to John Boorman to combine the stylized storytelling of French New Wave with American film noir in "Point Blank". This fascinating, challenging movie was made in 1967 when the film world was in the embrace of experimental film. Although it's quite different from "Blow Up", the storytelling style is just as stylized and unique. Lee Marvin plays Walker a criminal cheated out of $93,000 from a robbery of a mob like syndicate on Alcatraz by his best friend Reese(John Vernon). Participating in the heist/murder is Walker's young wife who has been having an affair with Reese. After getting the money, Reese shoots his friend, takes his wife and leaves him for dead on Alcatraz.
With the help of a mysterious benefactor (Keenan Wynn), Walker tracks down Reese exacting revenge in pursuit for what he's owed. When his wife commits suicide, Walker seeks out her sister Chris (Angie Dickinson)in hope of luring Reese out of hiding. From there this convoluted mystery spins more threads than director John Boorman knows what to do with but, surprisingly, he keeps the story from getting too tangled up.
Boorman and director Steven Soderbergh ("Ocean's 11", "Solaris", "Sex Lies and Videotape")provide a fascinating commentary track on the making of the movie. Boorman recalls that originally Lee Marvin wanted Peggy Lee for the role that Dickinson plays. While he went with Boorman's decision of Dickinson he wasn't very nice to his co-star which worked particularly during the scene where Dickinson starts hitting Marvin. Dickinson hit Marvin so hard he had bruises the next day but the actor stoically took the hits and the camera kept rolling. Boorman also discusses the stylized approach he uses in shooting the film including a sequence in Walker's deceased wife's apartment that where the body disappears in an almost dream like sequence, the furniture disappears and Marvin's clothes change. The studio was so concerned when it saw the first cut of this sequence it hired a psychologist to come talk to the director.
Featuring a stunning transfer from Warner Home Video and a nearly perfect brand new print of the film, "Point Blank" looks sharp with vivid colors. The mono soundtrack with some of its unusual sound effects (the sound of Walker's feet providing a percussive element to one sequence in particularly)also sounds remarkably clear. There's also a two part promo featurette "The Rock" which focuses on the shooting of the movie on Alcatraz (it was the first movie shot there since the prison closed in 1963 and had been turned into a state park). Using San Francisco, Santa Monica and Los Angeles as a backdrop, the film features stunning cinematography. If Don Siegel had watched the French New Wave prior to making some of his noir laced thrillers, this is what it might have looked like.
Remade with Mel Gibson as a more traditional looking thriller called "Payback", "Point Blank" features Marvin in one of his most stoic, powerful and grim performances. His character of Walker leaves a trail of dead bodies without remorse or regret in pursuit of what is rightfully his. Unlike a lot of films that incorporated the surreal touch of the French New Wave (such as Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player" or any of Goddard's films), "Point Blank" has aged remarkably well with Boorman's stylized use of sets, camera set ups, flasbacks, etc. suggesting what's really going on inside of Walker's head. There's also a suggestion that maybe Walker didn't survive (particularly during the last sequence)and that "Point Blank" represents the dying delusion of a man thirsting for revenge. A marvelous film filled with many, many levels, this classic thriller does not have a straight forward narrative so if you're expecting a realistic film noir or story, you should look elsewhere.
Top notch revenge movie plus
Ian Muldoon | Coffs Harbour, NSW Australia | 12/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mr Marvin is at his best in this noirish movie. He has the best walk, the biggest gun, and a mind as sharp as a cut-throat razor.He's out for revenge because he's been betrayed by his BEST FRIEND and HIS WIFE. LOOK OUT! But there is much to admire and enjoy in all the bit parts, and especially the recurring images of glass, and cleanliness in this all too alien urban landscape. The one act of human tenderness by our anti-hero is committed in an apartment which has been completely trashed. An interesting document of the sixties as well as an entertaining film."
A hard-edged story of betrayal and revenge with a superb DVD
Daniel C. Markel | Rosharon, TX USA | 08/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This review is for the Warner Brothers DVD released in 2005.
`Point Blank' starts out in an abandoned Alcatraz Prison circa 1967 where Walker (Lee Marvin), his wife, and Mal Reese (John Vernon - probably best remembered as Dean Wormer in `Animal House') rob an apparently illegal money payoff. Once the money is counted, Reese shoots Walker in a prison cell leaving him for dead and takes Walker's $93,000. Walker recovers from the shooting and with the help of a stranger named Yost (Keenan Wynn), Walker finds out that Reese and Walker's wife ran off to Los Angeles and Reese is now a big player in a major crime syndicate. This sets up the rest of the movie where Walker hunts down Reese but also wants all of this $93,000 back.
The movie is clearly dark in mood and substance, even though it was filmed in vibrant color. Angie Dickenson plays the role of Walker's sister-in-law Chris, who helps him find Reese. The chemistry between Chris and Walker seems overtly empty and melancholy. An animated Carroll O'Conner (best known for playing Archie Bunker in 'All in the Family') brings a lot of energy to the last segment of the movie. The film has an unmistakably late `60's look with fast and chaotic flashbacks and over-accentuated sound effects - such as loud, reverberating footsteps when an intensely focused Lee Marvin is hunting down Reese. This movie is more sexual and violent than noir films of the `40's and `50's, but is still restrained by today's standards. The film's biggest asset is how Lee Marvin confronts and handles his adversaries - each situation is original and effective, but not over the top. The plot as a whole has very few major surprises, although there is one minor twist in the end. Overall, it's an extremely good movie, but not a great one, but I still strongly recommend it.
As for the DVD, the transfer is superb. The picture quality is free of even the tiniest of flaws and the color is bright and vivid and the sharpness is terrific for a film this old. The audio is also excellent. There is option real-time commentary by director John Boorman and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, plus two short features, both made when the film was being shot in the late `60's entitled the Rock Part I &II. These two documentaries deal with the filming of the scenes on Alcatraz that were used in `Point Blank'. Part II also contains a short interview with a former prisoner who did time on "The Rock"..
DVD Quality: A+"
Marvin shines doing what he does best.
Kenneth J. Handley | australia | 06/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this 1960s tale of an ex criminal seeking his share of the proceeds of a heist on Alcatraz is absorbing to say the least. Boorman is at his best in this noir classic which comes to life via the standout performance of Lee Marvin which while reminiscent of his role in the earlier The Killers which saw him excel with sidekick Gulager this time he plays the lone avenger brutal and uncompromising in his quest for justice as he sees it.Ably supported by good pal Keenan Wynn as agent provocetuer Marvin again shows us his abundant talent when playing such roles. Marvin stood head and shoulders above the pack during the 60s in playing the bad guy with a point to prove and he had an edgy quality that others tried to emulate but never duplicate.He had other notable performances in later years with Paint Your Wagon being the stand out but to my mind he will be better remembered for his work in the 1960s which includes his top shelf role in The Dirty Dozen which sadly never reaped him the rewards it should have but at least gave Marvin devotees another classic to revel in. Point Blank as the Killers before it no doubt had some bad press in some quarters due to the violence of the plot which I think overstates this issue. The violence was integral to the plot as with the Killers and as such has to be viewed accordingly. When looked at now in retrospect the violence when compared to later movies was relatively tame. Marvin played his roles as freewheeling and uncompromising as he lived his life generally and it gave his performances that added touch of reality and believabilty which many of his peers failed to produce often appearing wooden in comparison. Marvin was a one off talent the like of which sadly we may never see again. In short Point Blank like all Marvin efforts is a stand out. A notable supporting role included Angie Dickenson who joined Marvin no doubt as a result of their roles in the Killers and gives a good account of herself in a challenging role. One could never say Dickenson was simply eye candy as she showed in many good performances in the 70 and 80s and was a good foil for a rampant Marvin in this role as he tracks down the bad guys and eventually finds he has been the tool of a devious manipulator all along who uses Marvin to wipe out his opposition in the organisation hierachy. The ending of the film is brilliant in that it removes the almost inevitablity of the principle story line and leaves us at Alcatraz without knowing whether Walker took his money or not. This added another touch to what is a good uncomplicated fast moving script well suited to a winning performance by Marvin. The main setting chosen for the movie namely Alcatraz also gives that edgy feel so often associated with Marvin films. A classic for the Marvin buffs."