Sunday, 5 December 2010

Point Blank (1967) - John Boorman

If Lee Marvin has ever made a bad film, then I haven't seen it, and yes I do rate Paint Your Wagon, so you can just nip that thought in the bud right now. There's something about Lee Marvin, even when he plays a 'good guy' he does so with an air of almost borderline menace. So many of todays actors think that to be a tough guy on screen you have to be at the gym eight days a week, or emote like crazy and maybe have a few Gary Oldman in Leon style facial ticks. However it's a hard thing to get right, Robert Carlyle managed it in Trainspotting, and he's just a wee fella, it's in the voice and the way you carry yourself. I think Marvin understood this, and carved a whole career out of playing essentially the same character over and over with slight tweaks here and there.

So you get the picture, I like Lee Marvin. More than that I like Lee Marvin when he is teamed up with a director that is able to bring to the table visually, what Marvin delivers acting wise. Boorman is just such a director. Fresh from making the Dave Clark 5 flop Catch Us If You Can, Point Blank was his chance to shine as a director. And shine he did, it's not overly flash but it does utilize many little tricks that make it so obviously directed by the new blood that was pouring into Hollywood at the time.

Anyway the story itself is a simple take on the revenge thriller, two mates pull a job, one shoots the other and makes off with all the loot and said friends wife, except he didn't kill his friend, and now his friend is a mite annoyed and wants his share of the lolly. Nothing too amazing there, but by casting Lee Marvin as Walker (no first name, that's how hard he is), the man who is out for revenge, Boorman had pretty much done 50% of his job. Marvin is like a runaway train, smashing through doors and tearing everything and everyone up in his path. Even though so many people meet their maker in this film, have a butchers at how many people Walker actually kills. You'll be surprised I think. Angie Dickinson is his piece of arm candy, and she is great in a very unsympathetic role.

The tagline on the poster ran - There are two kinds of people in his up-tight world: his victims and his women. And sometimes you can't tell them apart. But it might as well have said - Point Blank. Where men are M E N, and women go to bed with their make up on. Well, you know what I mean. It's a great late sixties film, think of Bullitt and you're on the right track. As I said earlier Boorman has a way with finding interesting set ups, one scene in particular has one of the best uses of sound in a film from this period full stop. I'll just say Lee Marvin's footsteps when he goes to visit his wife, if you've seen it you'll know what I mean, if you haven't, then why not?

Boorman would follow this film with Hell in the Pacific (again with Marvin) and then the even better Deliverance, before getting lost for a few years with such oddness as Zardoz and Exorcist II: The Heretic. Marvin would carry on chiseling out roles until in 1980 he made what I consider his greatest, The Sargent in The Big Red One. Which despite it's title isn't some soft porn flick, but actually one of the best (anti) war films ever made. Did I ever mention how much I love Lee Marvin?

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