Saturday, June 18, 2011

POINT BLANK (1967) - A masterful Lee Marvin revenge flick

What's there to be said about Lee Marvin that hasn't been said before? The man was a true screen legend, and starred in some of the best action movies to be put to celluloid. He made a career out of playing steely, tough guys in movies like The Dirty Dozen, The Killers, Hell in the Pacific and classic Westerns like The Professionals. 6 foot 2 inches tall, a deep voice that rivaled Darth Vader on his best strep throat days, a fondness for huge Smith & Wesson revolvers and with a body count that makes natural disasters jealous, it was no wonder that he was cast as Walker in this 1967 neo-noir crime thriller. Point Blank is somewhat of a cult classic that has gotten better with time and has been copied by countless other action movies since its release.

"Knock, knock. Who's there?" IT'S LEE MARVIN!
Criminally-inclined Walker (Lee Marvin), his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) and one of his lifelong  friends Mal Reese (John Vernon) plan and execute a heist in San Francisco, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars during a money exchange at Alcatraz prison. As they are making good their escape, Reese betrays Walker, shooting him several times, taking Lynne with him and leaving the wounded Walker to die in the abandoned prison. Much to our viewing pleasure, Walker is a tough son of a bitch, since he survives and makes his way off the island. After some hallucinations, and flashbacks of his happier times with Lynne and Reese, Walker immediately begins planning his revenge. Walker will stop at nothing to find Lynne and Reese, kill Reese and get back his share of the loot: $93,000.

1960s vintage Angie Dickinson - yum.
Walker meets up with a guy named Yost, who has information about the people he's after. Apparently, Reese had betrayed Walker in order to pay off a huge debt he owed to a gang of high-class criminals that goes by the name "The Organization." Intent on finding that backstabbing bastard, Walker heads to Los Angeles, where he breaks into Lynne's new house, but Reese is nowhere to be found. Depressed and knowing that Walker will never forgive her, Lynne kills herself with an overdose of prescription pills. Their betrayal has made Walker indifferent to anyone's suffering but his own. He leaves Lynne lying on the ground and goes off to find Lynne's sister Chris (Angie Dickinson), who is supposedly Reese's new girl. Chris turns out to be more helpful than Walker thought. She agrees to help him and together they set out to find Reese. Revenge is the only thing in Walker's mind, and may God have mercy on whoever gets in his way.

Reese betrayed Walker, shot him, took his money and his girl. Yeah, you're f*cked pal.
Lee Marvin played badasses and tough guy roles throughout his career, but he was born to play Walker. Quiet, strong, violent and determined, Walker is a force of nature as he rampages through Los Angeles on his quest to get back his money. Angie Dickinson does a good job with her character as a contrast to Walker's emotionless granite demeanor. The script is tight and simple, and John Boorman's direction is amazing. The movie incorporates techniques and motifs that were relatively unknown at the time and uses them to tell Walker's story in a visually dazzling manner. Point Blank ends up becoming a no-frills revenge thriller with a career-defining role for Marvin, while at the same time breaking new ground in the action genre. My gripes? I didn't find John Vernon's acting all that good, which didn't detract from any joy at seeing Walker beat the living crap out of him though. The musical score is also a bit of an acquired taste at times, so be warned.

Walker just wants his $93,000. You better hope you don't get in his way.

It's not hard to see why Point Blank is regarded as an underrated classic. Lee Marvin in the role of his life, a simple yet convincing story, a gorgeous 1960s California setting, and a heavy dose of noir action and grit. This movie would later be remade in the 90s as Payback, starring Mel Gibson, but it was far from being as good as this one. Point Blank is a classic, with a forceful Lee Marvin and beautiful Angie Dickinson at the top of their game, and not to be missed.

TL;DR - Hard-boiled revenge thriller and a colossal Lee Marvin - 9/10


  1. Gotta check this out, you seem to have liked it a lot.

  2. ooooh, i'll look for this. :)

  3. Lee is the man! i loved him in Delta Force 8.

  4. Lee Marvin is a good actor.

  5. I saw this bout 3 years ago, my boss at work recommended it. Sadly i quit before telling him what i thought.

  6. "Oooooohhhh, Lee Marvin...he's always drunk and violent!"

    - Homer Simpson, while watching Paint Your Wagon.

  7. Fuck yeah! Point Blank! I haven't seen this movie since I was like 13!