Point Blank (1967) Poster

(1967)

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Point Blank contains inspiring visuals, a haunting soundtrack and some stunning acting. Fabulous, groundbreaking cinema.
walshio15 December 1998
In the wake of his Cannes Best Director award for The General, Boorman's stunning debut has been released with a new print. Unrelentingly downbeat, this stylish crime thriller made in 1967 seems to have fuelled virtually Elmore Leonard novel.

Steely, panther-like hitman Walker (marvellous Marvin) has been fitted up, shot at and had $93,0000 stolen from him all because of ex-pal Mal Reese (John Vernon). A tad upset he decides to resurrects himself, with the help of the shadowy Yost (Keenan Wynn) for revenge and his payment.

Boorman greets us with a five-minute sequence that is crammed with curious camera angles, fractured time-lines and carefully constructed compositions. We're bombarded by a montage of piercingly violent images blended together with fragments of a failed heist on Alcatraz Island and a pair of slugs ripping into Walker's body. We're only privy to these flash snippets of information, but they're still enough to help us empathise with Marvin's masterly obsessive.

A year or two later Walker is on a tourist boat trip to Alcatraz, being propositioned by Yost. The creepy Yost knows where Mal and his Walker ex-wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) are and is willing to reveal this to him, just as long as he receives some information on a shadowy body called "The Organisation". Walker simply nods. His dialogue is minimal, his obsession is reflected through his curt questions, his sudden movements, his eyes and the flashbacks that haunt him.

When he catches up with his cheating ex-wife he allows her to talk uninterrupted in a desperate, forlorn monotone - "He's gone. Cold. Moved out," she says. Walker barely takes it in, all that motivates him is the thought, "Somebody's gotta to pay."

While others flounder, Marvin appears impenetrable like one of Sergio Leone's cowboys. Only Clint Eastwood never conveyed this much emotion in his movements.

Boorman's seminal film preceded the spate of fabulous paranoia flicks that enriched 70s American cinema – The Conversation, The Parallax View, All The President's Men – where a shadowy "Organisation" pulls the nation's strings. Tarantino has since appropriated this organisation theme on a small-time level, plagarising the black suits and the unwavering professionalism of the violence. De Niro's ex-con in Jackie Brown is based on Marvin's Walker, as are countless other performances.

Even Angie Dickinson, playing Lynne's sister Chris, leaves him cold. In a remarkable scene she resorts to repeatedly slamming Walker's immovable slab of a chest. He remains impregnable, emotionally void. She keeps on punching until she finally collapses on the floor in a heap. They finally make love, only for the isolation, the loss of identity, to continue. Is he an avenging angel? Is he there at all?

"Hey, what's my last name?" asks a post-coital Chris. "What's my first name?" he deadpans, answering a question with another question. Always seeking answers, never providing them. No love left in him, only a need for payment.

Point Blank contains inspiring visuals, a haunting soundtrack and some stunning acting. Fabulous, groundbreaking cinema. --Ben Walsh
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9/10
Point Blank is one of the most influential films of the 1960's
kyle-garabadian12 June 2004
Point Blank is one of those lost gems from the 1960's. It got buried because it was released around the same time as Bonnie and Clyde. This film combines all the great elements of the American action film with flourishes of European art house cinema. John Boorman's direction is excellent, and not enough can be said about Lee Marvin's performance. This is without question one of Lee's best tough guy performances. I don't understand how the previous reviewer can say this film seems "dated" and "funny for all the wrong reasons". It is as fresh and interesting as it was back at the time of its release. Those looking for it on DVD may want to know that the widescreen format version appears on TCM occasionally. You may want to pop in a tape the next time it is on until the DVD finally comes out.
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8/10
A genre movie unlike any other.
Robert J. Maxwell5 June 2006
When I worked in a psychiatric hospital I noticed that one or two of the patients had a peculiar tendency to stand up, start walking purposefully across the ward, stop and look around, then begin walking just as purposefully in another direction, then sit down again. A kind of ambulatory non sequitur.

This whole movie is like that. I mean that to be a compliment. People break up the interactive script they've initiated and do something completely unpredictable. I'll just give one example. Walker (Marvin) and his companion (Angie Dickenson) have an argument and she begins whacking him across the head with her purse. At first he guards himself with his arms but then lowers them and stands silently and without any expression as she beats him, slaps him, and pounds his chest, finally slumping to the floor exhausted. At that, he strides wordlessly to the couch, plops down, turns on the TV and begins surfing the channels.

It's a neo-noir film if there ever was one. There is betrayal, a false woman, suicide, multiple double crosses, revenge, an urban setting, and an ambiguous ending.

So, although it is a genre film, it is nevertheless unique. Everything comes together. The production designer gives us sterile urban vistas, featuring bland cement boxes and the Los Angeles River, without which no noir would be complete. The apartments these people live in look like ordinary arid gray middle-class bourgeois digs. Wardrobe, too, has fitted these performers out in ordinary suits and ties, and the women are always rather chic looking.

The direction and editing are splendid. I'll give an example of what I mean here, too. Lee Marvin throws John Vernon out on the roof of his penthouse, wrapped only in a bed sheet. Vernon begins to tumble over the edge, Marvin grabs for him but winds up holding only the sheet while Vernon plunges some dozen floors to the street below. (His body winds up impossibly intact. A cat might have survived such a fall but a full-grown man would have splashed.) In an ordinary movie, we'd get a cut from the body hitting the street to Marvin staring down at it over the railing. But here, Marvin is still holding the sheet. Not only that but it's WINDY on the fourteenth floor roof and the wind is whipping the sheet up into billows around Marvin, like some demonic object with its own malevolent life force, before he is finally able to unwrap himself and fling it away.

The editing gives us a couple of brief flashbacks, but not just to evoke a mood. They are instrumental in letting us know what Marvin is thinking. Marvin is holding a gun to his ex-pal's, Vernon's, face and the poor guy faints until Marvin slaps him awake, and then he begs Marvin to trust him. A flashback lasting only a few seconds reminds us of an earlier scene in which Vernon begged Marvin's help in carrying out a heist and shouted at him, "Walker! Trust me!" The editing is so precise that in this -- and in a dozen other scenes -- a few seconds more or less would drain them of their impact.

The score is by Johnny Mandel, an arranger and composer whose work I've admired for years. He was a child prodigy, played both trumpet and trombone with Tommy Dorsey's band before turning to composing and arranging. He's never edgy or irritating. His music is smooth and melodic and sometimes strangely orchestrated. Here he suits his talents to the demands of the scene. When a man is trying to seduce a woman, a romantic piano melody tinkles behind them. At other times, again depending on the context, the score glides from Henry Mancini to Gil Evans. Nicely done.

So is the acting. Marvin has been this good in other films but never better. The plot has to do with his regaining $93,000 that "the organization" has cheated him out of. (There is no mafia-ness to the movie. The only foreign language we hear is Portugese.) And $93K was a lot of money then. You could find gas at 29 cents a gallon. Marvin more or less kills his way up the ladder searching for someone in a position to "pay me my money." He finally gets to Carrol O'Connor who explains to him that in a huge corporation like this, nobody ever handles any money. O'Connor has got maybe eleven dollars in his wallet. And Marvin, holding a gun on him, hesitates and looks genuinely put out -- puzzled, the way a child might be puzzled by a disappointing reply. ("No, there's no Santa Claus.") I think I'll leave it at that before I run out of space. I've pretty much skipped the plot but that must be adequately covered elsewhere. Besides, the plot is either extremely simple or very complicated indeed, depending on how far you want your conjectures to dig. (Is the whole movie nothing more than the fantasy of Marvin as he lies dying on Alcatraz after being shot at the beginning of the story? See what I mean?) Don't miss it.
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Nobody punches a crotch like Marvin!
Wizard-822 July 2000
Still packs a whallop after all of these years, this was undoubtably a big influence on all the tough-loner-on-quest-for-revenge movies to come. What's really interesting is how Marvin's unemotional and seldom speaking character is quite fascinating. Instead of him being bland, we keep studying, somehow trying to find SOMETHING behind his cold stare.

Though tough, this movie is not without a sense of humor, though it's quite subtle, such as the test drive sequence. It's good stuff, though I did have one problem; the ending is quite confusing. I am sure other viewers will not quite be able to determine what's going on.
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"I want my $93,000!"
Camera Obscura9 February 2007
Love it, great film.

For one thing, POINT BLANK, directed by British director John Boorman, has all the good looks of the various movements of the European New Wave, but walks the walk and talks the talk of an American thriller, and I mean that as a good thing. Boorman's brilliantly composed combination of European artfulness with film-noir elements make for an exceptionally rich and multi-layered crime thriller.

Lee Marvin, in typically emotionless fashion, is the remorseless Walker who, after pulling off a successful heist from the mob, is double-crossed, shot and left for dead in the now abandoned Alcatraz prison by his wife (Sharon Acker) and his partner-in-crime (John Vernon). Walker survives, escapes and moves to LA, where he kills his way up the ladder of a vaguely defined organized crime syndicate called "The Organization", hardly distinguishable from a legitimate cooperate business, in order to get his $93,000, occasionally aided by his sister, Chris (a great Angie Dickinson), who seems to know Walker's targets pretty well.

Philip Wisethrop's widescreen compositions are absolutely stunning. One of the most impressive scenes is when Walker is fighting two hoods in a nightclub, against a swirling psychedelic backdrop, to the strains of the R&B houseband, with its black singer hysterically shouting letting the mostly white clientèle shout with him in his microphone. But every scene is a marvel to watch, with every detail painstakingly composed without getting stiff or forced in any way. Even the car windows are almost unrealistically spotless, in order to film Walker through the glass with the reflections of the city on his face.

The film is packed with all kinds of surreal surroundings and lots of flashbacks concerning Walker's past. Boorman's games with narrative time, with extensive use of echoing flashbacks and jump-cuts, are the perfect reflection of Walker's dream-like struggle for justice, He's the typical tragic (noir)-hero, in a perpetual struggle to grasp what happened to him. He desperately tries to comprehend the situation he's in, but hasn't got a clue who's who and his outdated moral codes make him seem an even bigger anomaly in the modern corporate world he works his way into.

Whether this is all actually happening or it's all a mind-spin inside Walker's head is impossible to say. Best to enjoy the ride in this true genre classic, definitely one of the best American thrillers of the '60s. If you get the chance, watch it together with Melville's LE SAMOURAI (1967) and Seijun Suzuki's BRANDED TO KILL (1967), in many ways its French and Japanese counterparts.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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8/10
Alienation at its best
Jugu Abraham15 February 2001
I first saw this movie when I was in college in the Seventies. I viewed the film again in 2001. The power of the film was the same on my senses. Several reasons come up: British Director John Boorman was at his best trying to outdo Don Siegel's The Killers (1967)-which also stars Marvin and Dickinson in somewhat similar roles. I will really be surprised if Boorman denies that he was not influenced by the Siegel movie.

Why did Point Blank make an impact on me? Was it Lee Marvin's raw machismo? No. It was Boorman, who gave cinema a brilliant essay on alienation. When Dickinson's Chris asks Marvin's Walker 'What's my last name?' after a bout of sex and gets a repartee 'What's my first name?' you can argue the alienation is embedded in the dialog. But Boorman's cinema includes the loud footsteps of a determined Walker on the soundtrack, somewhat like Godard in Alpahaville, contrasting bright wide open spaces for the exchange of money that goes according to plan and closed dimly lit confines of Alcatraz for those that go wrong. There is laconic humor without laughter, pumping bullets into an empty bed, guards who narrowly miss Marvin going up the lift, the car salesman's interest in an attractive customer than in his job, the sharpshooter's smug satisfaction not realizing that he has got the wrong man…The list is endless.

The camera-work of Philip Lathrop is inventive, but was it Lathrop or Boorman that made the visual appeal of the Panavision format of this film come alive?

Viewing the film in 2001, several points emerge. $93,000 was important to Walker, nothing more nothing less. But was it money he was after or was it the value of an agreement among thieves? The open ended finale runs parallel to the end of an Arthur Penn film (also on alienation)called "Night Moves" made some 10 years later. What surprises me is how a good movie like Point Blank never won an award or even an Oscar nomination.
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Very good and tough in its time
darth_sidious6 August 2000
Tough and brutal, that best describes Boorman's excellent direction. Lee Marvin is perfect as a man who is out for revenge. The story is quite raw, it features flashbacks which haunt the character. The ending sums up the character, but you'll need to see it to find out for yourself. The supporting cast is very good, but this Marvin's baby and he is terrific.

Boorman makes full use of the widescreen frame. Watching in full frame ruins the entire picture. You have only truly seen Point Blank if you've viewed in widescreen.
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Raw, Lyrical, and Bullets
A. Bates6 October 1998
Point Blank kind of came and went in theaters but I can't imagine anyone who saw it in 1967 left forgetting John Boorman's tough and beautiful film. A simple story told in a very stylish and, at times, surreal manner. Though the storyline is a variation on "revenge" themes, it is Boorman's images that open it up and find pay-dirt. Images of Lee Marvin emptying his pistol in slow motion, the sound of footsteps over a string of pictures that curdle the mind, and the seemingly limitless use of rawness perfectly realized in the action and performance by Marvin and,interestingly, Angie Dickinson. There is a wonderful conflict between the primal Marvin and the Corporate Crime world which he cannot understand. Marvin knows survival of the fittest- not the richest. It's hypnotic and aggressive. Boorman balances perfectly on the line between the two.
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8/10
Seeing the pursuit of vengeance through a fevered mind--wonderful
ALauff15 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In the film's best and most famous scene, Lee Marvin's forsaken criminal trudges purposefully through a white-walled corridor, the echoes of his leaden footsteps filling the empty chamber like gunshots—CLOP! CLOP! CLOP! The caroming reverberations seem to lull him into reflection, and as the camera suddenly cuts away from his impassive face, the following quickly edited images evoke the disorienting sensation of flitting back and forth through his memory. Some of these images, like the eternally recurring shot of him lying supine on a cell floor in Alcatraz, we've seen before; others curiously herald events yet to happen. As the camera jumps between mind fragments, his footsteps plaintively persist on the soundtrack, like a metronome keeping track of the cumulative effects of Marvin's regret, rage and guilt. Although this sequence only lasts several minutes, it is significant in how it carves out a first-person psychological perspective from which the film rarely wavers and it is provocative for suggesting that Marvin might just be imagining his bad ass quest for redemption as he lies dying an undignified death in a dirty, abandoned prison; what we may be watching are the confused, dying thoughts of one who is simultaneously regretful (that he hadn't gotten out of the crime game sooner), heartbroken (that his best friend and wife betrayed him for $93,000) and determined to recapture what's his (the money, his honor, his anachronistic moral code).

The rest of the film is also deeply unconventional: As Marvin makes his way through the ghosts of his past—including a deeply lyrical reunion with his wife and a hauntingly narrated (by her in distant, foggy undertones) stream-of-memory précis of their relationship—and he delves deeper into his mission, the world makes less sense. He has to negotiate with a shadowy corporation called "The Organization" that purportedly has his money; several bizarre deaths later, he is no closer to recompense and cripplingly unable to reconcile his direct moral universe of duty and accountability with the seriously corrupt bureaucracy he must contend with. The conclusions the film makes are profoundly anti-institutional: his perception is clearly the least cynical of the dialectic, and by film's end his mission seems almost benign, his revenge less an act of violence than in claiming a rightful bit of solace in death that The Organization won't allow him. This is one of the most innovative films of the '60s—and clearly due to its overlapping, stream-of-consciousness narrative, one heavily inspired by the European vanguard—persuasively evincing a world where individual responsibility is dead (for once, a perspective on existentialism that sees the idea past simple notions of defeatist loneliness and despair) and the abstract, terrifyingly nondescript authority structure extends to God himself.
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Lee Marvin Steals the Show as Walker
marquis de cinema6 March 2000
Point Blank(1967) is a early feature by John Boorman who would go on to direct Deliverance(1972), Excalibur(1981), and The General(1998). It is an excellent noir about a man who's betrayed and left for dead who goes after the outfit that owes him money. Point Blank is a tightly constructed thriller with brillient montage and mise-en-scene. The film does a good job at showing the phychodelic colors of late 1960's San Fransico. Lee Marvin in this movie shows why he is one of the best Hollywood tough guys of all time. It is much better than the remake Payback(1999) because of Lee Marvin's presence and the masterful editing and camera work of the film.
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role made for the original 60s action man
compsecure23 April 2004
This was a movie made for Marvin. Whether by design or by accident it matters not, this was the perfect vehicle for probably the only authentic believable actor as well qualified to play this type of screen role. Marvin looked like your average definition of a gangster, thug,slick operator, tough guy call it what you will and had the physique, persona, acting skills etc to carry the role and excel in it. Marvin acted above himself in this movie as he did in The Killers several years prior & reunited with Dickinson in the process something that added a special thread throughout the movie.There was sadly not enough of these types of roles to enable Marvin to display his obvious talent in portraying these types of screen characters but there was just enough to wet our apetite for more. Point Blank was probably the pick of them before Marvins career sidetracked to other areas which to my mind while it may have added to his body of work did not amply display to us the full talents of this contemporary one off actor the like of which I sadly fear we will never be fortunate enough to see again. That being said the movie was also notable for many other brilliant performances principally Lloyd Bochner, Carol O,connor & John Vernon who also possessed some of the qualities attributed to Marvin although not on the same scale or intensity.All In all a movie worth watching for a number of reasons. Lee we miss you. Heaven must be a gass with you & cassavetes steve Mcqueen etc.
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9/10
You're a very bad man, Walker, a very destructive man!
Spikeopath22 August 2015
Point Blank is directed by John Boorman and collectively adapted to screenplay by Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse and Rafe Newhouse from the novel The Hunter written by Richard Stark. It stars Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O'Connor, Lloyd Bochner and Michael Strong. Music is by Johnny Mandel and the Panavision cinematography (in Metrocolor) is by Philip H. Lathrop.

Betrayed by wife and friend during a robbery, Walker (Marvin) is left dying on a stone cold cell floor at closed down Alcatraz...

Pure neo-noir, a film that could be argued was ahead of its time, given that it wouldn't find a fan base until many years later. Yet it deserves to be bracketed as a benchmark for the second phase of noir, a shining light of the neo world, experimenting with techniques whilst beating a true film noir heart.

The story is deliciously biting, pumped full of betrayals and double crosses, fatales and revenge, death and destruction. It even has a trick in the tale, ambiguity. It all plays out in a boldly coloured Los Angeles, the photography sparkles as Mandel lays an elegiacal and haunting musical score over the various stages of the drama. The talented Boorman has a field day with the elements of time, shunting various strands of the story around with sequences that at first glance seem out of place, but actually are perfect in context to what is narratively happening, the director gleefully toying with audience expectations. While suffice to say angles are tilted and close ups broadened to further style the pic.

Then there is Walker, a single minded phantom type character, played with grace and menace by Marvin - who better to trawl the Los Angeles underworld with than Marv? This guy only wants what he is owed from the robbery, nothing more, nothing less, but if the meagre reward is not forthcoming, people are going to pay with something more precious than cash. His mission is both heroic and tragic, with Boorman asking the viewers to improvise their thought process about what it all inevitably means. Funding the fuel around Marvin are good players providing slink, sleaze and suspicion.

Deliberate pacing isn't for everyone, neither is stylised violence and stylish directorial trickery, but for those who dine at said tables, Point Blank, and Walker the man, is for you. 9/10
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10/10
Sad, Sad . . .
mp996 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The most famous sequence in this film is Walker (Lee Marvin) striding down an empty airport corridor, inter-cut with the morning routine of the wife (Sharon Acker) who betrayed him and let her lover (John Vernon) shoot him and leave him for dead. The set-up promises a bloody payoff in which the two no-goodnicks get theirs . . .

And indeed Walker bursts into the woman's apartment, silences her roughly, and empties his Big Gun into . . . an empty bed. The lover has deserted her (he sends a monthly pay-off), she dreams of suicide, and we realize that this supposed femme fatale is just a sad, weak woman who knows she did something terrible and has been paying the psychological price ever since.

And so begins a pattern; Walker works his way up the leadership chain of the crime family, and none of the men he encounters, and whose deaths he is indirectly responsible for (he doesn't actually kill anybody) can pay him back the $93,000 he wants, or give him back what he really wants, those few brief months of happiness with his wife before the snake oozed into their wrong-side-of-the-law Garden of Eden.

The screenplay is adapted from "The Hunter," which was written by Donald Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark. 'Adapted' is the key word, because the original book is an icy pulp-novel blood-bath where the main character, Parker, really isn't interested in anything but the money he's owed and casually kills anybody and everybody who gets in his way. (The book is interesting mostly as a stylistic exercise, personally, it left me with a major case of The Creeps.) This is a crime story that is really a mood piece about loneliness and missed connections and bad karma. The acting is incredible; not just Marvin as the despondent Walker, but Angie Dickinson as his sister-in-law who has heartbreaks of her own, and John Vernon, Michael Strong, Lloyd Bochner, and Carroll O'Connor as the slick, empty men he destroys. Sharon Acker is absolutely heart-breaking as his betraying wife, even though she's really on-screen for maybe 10 minutes tops, and Keenan Wynn takes a role with little substance and fills it with a commanding, unsettling presence.

A lot of talent behind the camera as well; Phillip Lathrop's photography has a mesmerizing chill to it, using the Panavision screen to create empty spaces that unnerve the audience (setting the film in Los Angeles also helps, even with all of the skyscrapers, it's still a suburb in search of a city). Johnny Mandel's music is both eerie and mournful, and the sets not only use color for psychological purposes, but find the formal beauty in even the most vulgar of settings.

Behind all of this ultimately, of course, is director John Boorman, who had already made the underrated comedy/drama CATCH US IF YOU CAN (shown here as HAVING A WILD WEEKEND), which could have been just a silly vehicle for The Dave Clark Five but, thanks to Boorman's direction, Peter Nichols' script, and the performances of the cast (including Dave Clark), remains one of those "60's movies" that behaved the way that films of the era were supposed to, asking unsettling questions about life and not always providing pat answers. POINT BLANK is also a genre film that is ultimately something more than that. Uncommon enough then, and kind of hard to imagine being made at all these days . . .
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10/10
A revenge masterpiece told with class and style.
CalDexter28 October 2006
Walker (Lee Marvin) is a man left for dead at Alcatraz by his best friend Mal Reese (John Vernon) who has lied and betrayed him. After surviving, he goes on a one man crusade to obtain his $93,000 that he believes is rightly his.

Starting with his wife that ran away with Reese he sets about infiltrating his way into a crime syndicate known only as The Organisation to get his money and take bloody revenge on Reese for his wrong doing on Alcatraz.

John Boorman's film is brilliantly styled and very violent for its time. Lee Marvin is simply awesome as Walker, more of a force of nature wearing tailor made suits that go beyond cool rather than a human being.

My favourite moment in this film is where Keenan Wynn as Yost gives Walker his wife's and Reese's address and we see him stomping down a long, coloured corridor inter cut with his wife waking up in bed and going about her business as Walker's footsteps get louder and louder until he kicks her door in and throttles her to the ground. It is a brilliant moment.

I also liked the way he remembers his life with Lynne, and how she narrates how they were so happy together before and after he met up with his long lost friend Mal Reese, its actually quite moving.

There's also this excellent idea that while you watch this film you are only seeing what Walker would have wanted to happen IF he survived...and that he is still lying there in that cell on Alcatraz.

Thats my theory. Either way, Point Blank is a classic thriller put together with class and style.

Fully recommended. Ten Out Of Ten.
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"What's your first name?"
chaos-rampant5 April 2008
Part art-house oddity, part gritty crime drama, with a neo-noir feeling and a revenge theme, Point Blank is a little late 60's gem that feels as fresh and vibrant now as it ever did. Lee Marvin walks away with every scene in his backpocket as Walker, the betrayed man out for revenge, and in the time-honoured tradition of the strong silent badass, he doesn't say much and he will kick the living daylights out of you if you get between him and his money. Boorman directs the movie with a distinct European flair and an art-house vibe that complements the themes of isolation and loss made evident by the sharp scarce and emotionally detached dialogue. Highlights include Lynne's recollection of her relationship with Mal Reese to Walker, Walker's footsteps echoing in the soundtrack for 5 minutes before he storms Mal Reese's house, Walker shooting furiously in slow motion at an empty bed, the faceless Organization that Walker is called to face and the mysterious ending. Here's a movie that lends itself to allegoric interpretations (especially the ending) but remains entertaining at face value. Make of it what you will, just don't miss it.
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10/10
Indispensable, Rock-Hard Neo Noir
Alan David Doane24 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Point Blank is a visual and storytelling tour de force: From the animal naturalism of Lee Marvin, to the highly influential neo-noir stylings of director John Boorman, so evident in the marvelous shadows and neon signage of the night driving scenes.

The visuals are visionary and as fascinating to observe today as they must have been when the movie was first released. The use of vertical angles as a visual motif, and the love affair that Boorman's camera has with the architecture and settings throughout the film can clearly be seen in later works by directors as diverse as Quentin Tarantino and Jim Cameron. Los Angeles becomes a character under Boorman's skilled stewardship, here closing in on Marvin and his enemies with the stark diagonal planes of the LA river basin storm drains, there opening up the world as Marvin stalks the Hollywood hills with the city laid out beyond him in magnificent, eye-popping clarity.

The story is one of passion, treachery, and revenge; the mechanics of the story are implicit not only in the spare, at times near-impressionistic dialogue, but in the stunning visuals Boorman's camera utilizes. From the acid-trip grooviness of the backstage nightclub battle, with the action reflected and commented on by the models' faces cast huge on a projected screen, to the splashes of psychedelic colour on Marvin's face at the conclusion of the scene, colour, lighting and angles are counted on to carry so much of this story -- and they bear the burden well.

I don't know if Patrick McGoohan was thinking of this film when he created The Prisoner, but fans of that series will also see echoes on the screen, in the way each scene is colour-coded across the board. On the commentary track, Boorman talks at length about his theories of colour in relation to the film, and it's a lesson with strong practical applications for anyone working with colour, in movies, comics, or any artform.

Point Blank is a movie I know I will be returning to again and again, to relish Marvin's primal scenery-chewing presence, and to bask in the glow of Boorman's vivid colour choices, so wonderfully recaptured on this DVD. If you want to tell stories, or if you just enjoy them being told to you well and with a challenging wit and intelligence, Point Blank is absolutely indispensable viewing.
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10/10
Simply great
John Downes27 January 2005
I saw this film on its first release at the impressionable age of 16 and for weeks after seeing it.... well I WAS Lee Marvin, (imaginary) gun in hand, looking for someone to kill!

I'll not add to the plot descriptions entered by others, but will content myself with listing some of the truly great aspects of this marvellous film. One, the atmosphere of sinister menace that encompasses everything. Two, the performance of Lee Marvin... does/did anyone do a better tough-guy act than him? Three, the music. A great score by Johnny Mandel. Four the punch-up in the back of The Worst Night Club in the World, (accompanied by a truly dreadful stage singer and band, were those guys really as bad as that?)

It really is scandalous that this great film has not been released on DVD. Whoever it is that owns the rights... well get on with it will you? Meanwhile it does get shown on TCM from time to time.
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5/10
Preferred Gibson's 'Payback' To This
ccthemovieman-15 May 2007
This was okay but not as good a '60s film noir (in story) as many critics would have you believe. Of course, that also is swayed sometimes by actors or actresses you like or dislike. I never liked Angie Dickinson, finding her to be too much of a low-life type of actress who played a lot of slutty roles. Of course, that kind of character fits into a noir story. So does Lee Marvin, whose tough-guy persona and deep voice lends itself to manly roles.

Actually, I preferred the re-make, "Payback," starring Mel Gibson, to this original version. That was far more entertaining and looked super on DVD.

This cast in this movie included "Archie Bunker," er, Carroll O'Connor. I like film noir from all eras and still consider it that even though purists think it has to always be a black-and-white film from the 1940s or 1950s. This is definitely film noir. Perhaps another look would change my mind as I have become a much bigger fan of the genre since I first looked at this movie and based this review on it. And, Marvin is usually worth the price of admission.
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2/10
Ugly And Repugnant
Lechuguilla25 November 2013
Gangster Walker (Lee Marvin) tries to get payback from other gangsters in this cinematic crime drama derived from an awful script. The first five minutes tries one's patience as the plot darts here and there with discordant flow and confusing plot points. It doesn't get any better later on. The script is a nightmare of too many flashbacks, among other problems.

Characters are totally not interesting. Walker is one angry dude as he shoots his way through a series of encounters trying to get revenge and money. Lee Marvin helps not at all. His tough guy image only exaggerates the raging Walker character. There's a glut of reptilian men in black suits; they belong to something called the "organization", the outfit that apparently betrayed Walker. Throw in a few cowering fems and the story's subtext just screams ... it's-a-man's-world, honey, and we're greedy, tough men.

Further, secondary characters are thrown into the mix seemingly in random order; again, there's a conspicuous absence of organic plot flow. In addition, the actual story is pretty thin, but padded with lots of filler, apparently to extend the runtime.

And then there's the excess ... excess violence just for the sake of violence, excessive loudness in Walker's footsteps as he marches through a corridor, angrily on his way to meet someone; after a few seconds these loud footsteps become almost torturous.

The entire film reeks of an ugly mix of repugnant characters interacting in unctuous, alienating ways. Maybe the film is trying to portray the urban alienation so characteristic of the 1960s. But the overall mood is so grating, the characters are so unappealing, and the plot structure is so messed up that the entire production comes across as incompetent.
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5/10
more holes than a swiss cheese
lawrence smith12 March 2006
Although it is in a similar vein this movie is nowhere near as good as the original Get Carter and has more holes in it than a swiss cheese. First the idea that a very large business enterprise (run by the 'Organization') that owns jazz clubs, super swank hotels, large expensive houses (used only for meetings), private planes etc etc, has its top execs dealing personally with a petty crook over a $90000 debt (even at 1969 $$) is ludicrous at best. Also we are led to believe that when the 'Organization' discovers that Angie Dickinson helped kill one of their top guys the boys are sent to wreck her apartment but not a single hair on her head is disturbed (could be the two cans of hair spray she used). Then we see her arrive at the 'Organizations' meeting house in her red outfit carrying only a small purse but the next morning she dresses up in a new white outfit. These are a few examples of the 'holes'. I guess it is a case of style over substance. I prefer a little more substance.
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10/10
Brutal, Bloody Film Noir proves to have many layers. If you have seen it, watch again and think about what's happening. If ye ain't seen it, whatcha waiting' for?
John T. Ryan25 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
WHEN THIS FILM hit the movie hit the movie houses in late Summer of 1967, Lee Marvin was a hot item and films were getting increasingly graphic in their display of violent acts. Whereas previously, sword play and gun fights were played down with very little depiction of injury, wound or blood.

FOLLOWING MANY YEARS of 'paying his dues' by working on the Off-Broadway stage, in supporting film roles and on Television; Mr. Lee Marvin had made it! His persistence paid off as he made it to Broadway, got his own TV Series in M SQUAD (Latimer Prod./Revue Studios/MCA TV/NBC TV Network, 1957-60) and had ever more prestigious film roles; culminating in his Oscar Winning portrayal of twin brothers Kid Shelleen and Tim Strawn in CAT BALLOU (Columbia Pictures, 1965). Every role following this was both one of true Star Stature and were definitely ones that Mr. Marvin wanted to do; not finding it necessary to take work for work's sake.

AFTER APPEARING IN such first class projects as SHIP OF FOOLS (Stanley Kramer Productions/Columbia, 1965) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (MKH/7 Arts/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,1967), Lee's Star continued to rise. He was now a big enough star to both carry a somewhat avant-garde film and at the same time guarantee $ucce$$ at almighty Box Office.

WHAT ABOUT THIS movie would be considered to be "avant-garde", we hear you asking? After all we have all of that tough as nails, action and "Bogarting" of the bad guys by the protagonist bad guy; being that there really are no "good guys" wearing "White Hats" in this here shoot-em up. But, lest we digress, let us dissect some other aspects first? Do you agree? I knew you would.

AS FOR the rest of the cast, well what can we say? Who could take issue with the likes of Angie Dickonson (Woo,woo,woo,woo!), who shows us so much of her breasts (nudity and explicit sex scenes having become an important ingredient in this new wave cinema).

REVIEWING THE REST of the players, we are impressed with just how the cast is just chock-full of the well known and the future household names. We were witness to the talents of Keenan Wynn, Lloyd Bochner (from HONG KONG TV Series), John Vernon (a Canadian in his first American Film), Carroll O'Connor (future ARCHIE BUNKER), Michael Strong, Sharon Acker, James B. Sikking (future Lt. Howard Hunter on HILL STREET BLUES-as James Sikking)and Michael Strong (who would portray Brigadier General Hobart Carver in PATTON).

AMONG THOSE THESPIANS who got noon screen credit, we find Bill Hickman, the Actor, whose services were highly sought after as a stunt driver. He undoubtedly was responsible for Walker's (Marvin) super destructive test drive. Mr. Bill Hickman would also go on to design and perform the great car chases in BULLIT, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE SEVEN-UPS,among many others. On screen he was ill fated Federal Narcotics Agent Mulderig, who was mistakenly shot to death in THE FRENCH CONNECTION.

ALRIGHT, ALREADY BUT what is it about POINT BLANK that makes it so different or ice-breaking, if you will? Surely, the film type known as Noir had been around since the World War II Era. We've had plenty of tough guys on the screen playing both sides of the law. For every baddie role that we see Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, George Raft or Sterling Hayden in a movie, we have a multitude of examples of their being the Good Tough guy. (No Schultz! I said Sterling Hayden, not Sterling Holloway!)

THE CRUX OF what we're driving at lies in the very nature of the screenplay and scenario that unfolds before our very eyes.

IF YOU WILL please note the heavy use of flashbacks, even flashbacks within other flashbacks. It starts out on an abandoned Alcatraz Island; formerly the location of the Federal Prison Systems "leper colony" for special or problem prisoners. The story spins a whole revolution, meandering through so many twists, turns, and double crosses. We see so many gun incidents and romps in the boudoir that we may have missed the main point of the story. I know, I did, back in the day that I was young, innocent and naive.

ABOUT SEVEN OR EIGHT years later, we heard a most interesting theory from a co-worker, a fellow Cop on the glorious Blue of the Chicago Police Department. It was Patrolman Tom Earth who gave us this very provocative insight into the film. It was one that he had gotten in a film class, I believe.

ARE YOU READY for the finale? Please don't read any further, unless you've screened POINT BLANK; or unless you couldn't care less.

OKAY, DEAR READERS, here it is. We're gonna spill it! The theory is that the whole story took place in Walker's imagination as he lay dying in the chilly, foggy night on Alcatraz. There is plenty of evidence to support this theory. Just take the way it keeps jumping around to previous happenings, the manner in which one scene of a physically depleted Walker (that's Lee Marvin, remember) is seen about to attempt a swim from the island to the San Francisco mainland suddenly dissolves into a scene on board a ferry in the same bay; mysteriously meeting up with Yost (Keenan Wynn)appearing as if from nowhere to give him info and encouragement. It goes on like this in so many ways.

IF THIS IS truly the case with POINT BLANK's being the dramatization of what went on in the mind of a dying man (and Schultz and I both concur), then that would put it right up there with some fine literature. Most notable examples that we can think of are Ambrose Bierce's AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE and Thornton Wilder's novel THE BRIDGE AT SAN LUIS REY. That's pretty damn good company for a movie!
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1/10
disappointing
pocomarc12 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I found POINT BLANK to be disappointing, to put it mildly.

I watched it because it was highly touted by someone I know.

Obviously different people have different taste.

There was not a single sympathetic character in the film.

The start was totally confusing.

I took a while, a long while, to catch on the fact that the director was using constant flashback of what Marvin saw when a current situation stimulated the memory of an earlier similar situation.

The fight backstage in the nightclub was poorly done.

Marvin's slipping into Vernon's penthouse building past his guards was not very believable.

I may have missed the point but the movie was a total disappointment to me.
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9/10
Expressionistic neo-noir combines the best of the European New Wave and American 40's film-noir
Tom Waist18 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Excerpt from a longer review.

A lot comes to mind when trying to write about Boorman's 1967 revenge movie 'Point Blank.' First of all there are the other films. Those it inspired, for instance Soderbergh's 'The Limey' (1999) – which tells a similar tale of revenge in a similar somewhat expressionistic and distorted style – and Tarantino's 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) – Tarantino once mentioned in an interview that Boorman inspired his heist flick, though, in my opinion, there is not much Boorman in 'Reservoir Dogs,' except for maybe the protagonists' obsession with a certain McGuffin (as Hitchcock would call it), in this case a sum of 93.000 dollars, which, in the end, they never get their hands on.

Then there are the films that inspired 'Point Blank.' There's a lot of film-noir in this film. Huston's classics such as 'Treasure Of The Sierra Madre' (1948) and 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941) come to mind, because they both tell the story of characters "hunting" for a certain object. But not only the story and its characters bear resemblance to the great film-noirs of the 40's, 'Point Blank' has an overall gritty though "blanc" film-noir feel to it. This partly has to do with the cinematography, which is very noir-ish in a sense, but…in color.

But this is not the reason I'm calling this a neo-noir. The basis for that statement can be found in many European films, especially those of the French New Wave (or Nouvelle Vague). In a way 'Point Blank' is a sort of Americanized Godard. Some of the surreal and expressionistic ways in which Boorman montages his tale remind me of Godard's 'À Bout De Soufflé' (1960) and even Lee Marvin's acting – this stoic, almost dehumanized and Neanderthal "man of stone" – reminds me of the way Bresson told his actors to act; almost like puppets, like they're propelled by feelings they don't even seem to understand themselves.

I can understand why Tarantino probably treasures 'Point Blank.' It mainly has to do with that fact that this film also brings to mind a lot of Asian cinema. Revenge is a major theme in quite a bit of movies from that continent and I wouldn't be amazed if films such as Ji-Woon's 'A Bittersweet Life' (2005) – which, by the way, has the same "this all could have been a dream" possibility to it – are partially inspired by 'Point Blank.' Of course the blade cuts on both sides and it could well be that Boorman was inspired by Asian films…though that is just speculation, and I would doubt it being true.

I've always been a softy for film-noir from the 40's and the strangely stylized American films of the 60's and 70's, such as Peckinpah's 'The Getaway' (1972), 'The Mechanic' (1972) and that other great revenge film 'Death Wish' (1974) – the last two directed by Michael Winner and with that other great stoic actor: Charles Bronson. To respect cinema, in general, one must be able to A. accept and respect the movie B. nullify oneself, and C. accept and respect the Zeitgeist in which it was made. Using word a word as "dated" for describing any film is not only disrespectful to the film itself, but also to an entire part of history. When one transposes oneself to the era in which a movie takes place or was made a richer and more thoughtful viewing experience will be the result. This may sound like downright Zen/Buddhist jibber jabber, but it works for me…most of the time.

That said I'm going to say one or two things about the way montage is used in 'Point Blank.' Distant past, (near) past and present are sometimes inter-cut. This means that in some instances we see Walker (Marvin) do the same thing, but just in a different point of the story. Or, like in the exhilarating beginning, we see Walker walking through a corridor. His feet smashing against the pavement. Tap tap tap tap; hypnotizing. Then we cut to his wife getting dressed. We cut back to Walker marching. Cut to his wife. Cut to Walker again. His wife. Walker driving a car to his wife's house…but the tapping of his shoes goes on. Here the sound of the near past overlaps the present. Suddenly the music joins and the footsteps work like a rhythmic instrument. Later, when Walker confronts Brewster (O'Connor) – to only be confronted and lectured by him -, when Walker knocks out Brewster's bodyguard and Brewster knows it is him, we suddenly cut back to scenes of Walker smashing other people's faces in. Like Boorman is saying: "This is Walker, Brewster. Remember how he's the guy that fights and kills people?" Brewster's logical reaction is: "Walker? You're a very bad man, Walker, a very destructive man! Why do you run around doing things like this?" (For a better, but equally sincere analysis of this scene, I redirect you to Martin Scorsese's 'A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies' (1995).) To me these (montage) techniques are very European. They remind me of the jump cuts of the Nouvelle Vague.

In the end 'Point Blank' will probably be understood by movie lovers – and especially those with a passion for film-noir or films from the 60's and 70's –, Lee Marvin-fans, those of you who want to find out where Soderbergh and Tarantino got their style from or men. Like most noirs, it's all about guys.
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8/10
Marvin & Boorman Don't Shoot Blanks
Bogmeister24 September 2005
Point Blank more or less ushered in the seventies era of film-making, at this very early stage. It was ahead of its time and is barely dated even now. Director Boorman used a barrel-full of cinematic stylistic tricks to distract and throw off the audience. Much later, directors such as Steven Soderbergh would copy this style (see "The Limey" and "Out of Sight" for example). The plot, such as it is, concerns Lee Marvin as 'Walker' - a betrayed, left-for-dead thug who comes 'back from the dead' seeking vengeance and money owed him. But the film plays out like some strange dream, or deathdream, as if Walker is just imagining the entire story during the final few seconds of his life. Consider the character played by Keenan Wynn, who acts like some sort of hovering guide for Walker, dispatching him to assault various levels of a crime organization. Even more audacious is the early sequence of Walker WALKING down a long corridor, his loud footsteps echoing into other scenes, foreshadowing his later actions, and driving home the relentless nature of his character.

As the implacable Walker, Marvin is stone cold dead on, remorseless and unstoppable, even robotic (shades of "The Terminator") and enters the realm of iconic imagery. This may very well be his signature role, beyond his leader in "The Dirty Dozen" and duo comic turn in "Cat Ballou." Boorman includes a surprising level of violence for back then, and it helps to have the frightening Marvin carrying out those acts; you may flinch at several of the scenes. Angie Dickinson is quite hot as the sister of Walker's poor wife; only the iron reserve of Marvin could resist her. The rest are fine character actors as the various members of the crime corporation. Again, their poor actions throughout the story, almost comical in nature, point to this being just an idealized daydream Walker is having as he wonders how he would have the upper hand over all of them. Whether this is the case or not, it's not all that important. The film is what it is: an experiment in throwing out the script and plot for the most part and relying on style to carry the flow. In this instance, it works. Mel Gibson was in a remake of the story, "Payback" in '99.
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10/10
Lee Marvin As Avenging Angel?
Bob-4531 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's been nearly 40 years since "Point Blank" hit the screen, and people still debate about what it all means. I remember seeing it with my brother and sister-in-law when it was released. I liked it, even if I didn't completely understand it, especially the ending. My brother and sister in law hated it because they were baffled by it. It's a seemingly simple story. Marvin plays a thug, left for dead in a cell in Alcatraz by his cheating wife and partner after a robbery involving a large sum of cash. Marvin somehow survives, and, while wounded, somehow swims the San Francisco bay waters that claimed dozens of escapees who had to be in much better shape. Marvin then begins a violent spree of revenge, culminating in a nighttime climax at Alcatraz, managing, in the process, to sleep with a then luscious Angie Dickenson. However, director John Boorman ("Deliverance," "Excalibur") and his editor create such a sensuous, dreamlike environment, it's really impossible at film's end to know exactly what has happened. That's not the kind of movie being made in 1967, and I'm fairly certain it was a financial flop. Had things been otherwise, I'm sure "Point Blank" would have been a BEST PICTURE contender at the Oscars. It's certainly, in my mind, the year's best picture.

WARNING: SPOILERS

While not as densely confusing as "The Swimming Pool," "Point Blank" is still ambiguous enough to offer several possible conclusions:

1. Marvin is in the cell at Alcatraz for the entire movie, dreaming of his revenge and dieing at the conclusion.

2. Marvin died at Alcatraz and is an "Avenging Angel," a ghost seeking revenge on those who betrayed him.

3. Marvin, mortally wounded but NOT at Alcatraz is DREAMING he is a cell at Alcatraz and DREAMING of his revenge.

4. Everything actually happened, but Marvin was really interested in revenge, not money and the strange, dreamlike continuity is style, not meaning.

I believe number 1 is the most likely of these.

END OF SPOILERS

"Point Blank" is EASILY Lee Marvin's best performance. Sure, he was funny in "Cat Ballou," but Marvin dominates this movie like no other, alternately menacing, dynamic and sexy. Marvin has a great dialogue exchange with Dickenson as he is seducing her. It pretty much sums up Walker's character as well as the movie.

DICKENSON: "What's my last name?" MARVIN: "What's my first?

I give "Point Blank" a "10".
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