Friday, 29 March 2013

#30 POINT BLANK (25.3.13)

Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Keenan Wynn. Directed by John Boorman

Having been betrayed and left for dead by his partner and wife, following a successful heist, career criminal Walker is back for revenge and his $96,000 share of the loot. Machine-like Walker lives up to his name by endlessly walking from one lead to the next, following his stolen loot back up the foodchain to the head of the West Coast mob.

Hollywood has long been keen on the Parker books written by Donald Westlake under the pseudonym of Richard Stark. And Point Blank is an adaptation of the first book in that series, The Hunter, which was later remade by Mel Gibson in 1999 and called Payback. And early this month, saw the release of Jason Statham's film - Parker,  yet another Parker book adaptation this time of Butcher's Moon. it was also the first time that the character was actually called Parker. Westlake never gave his permission when he was alive.

ANYWAY. What of the film itself? Well, it's a masterpiece. Made in 1967, it's a beautifully shot, crisply edited 91 minute masterpiece, from the note-perfect casting of Lee Marvin as Parker, to the sublime sexiness of Angie Dickinson. It has a nasty, savage quality and a brutal relentlessness, coupled with a strange, dream-like that makes the film feel other-wordly. At times, it feels as if the whole film is nothing more than the wish-fulfillment of a man as he lies, bullet-ridden on the floor of a disused prison waiting to die. Marvin is never less than utterly mesmerising in his single-minded pursuit of revenge and payback and the film is filled with incredibly powerful scenes of real power and emotional force.

Filled with superb scenes, sudden violence and a haunting soundtrack, it's worth noting that this was only Boorman's second movie, and the first he shot in colour. Lee Marvin hand picked him and them did something astonishing by gifting him final-cut and script approval, thereby making him studio proof and ensuring that the finished film was his through and through.

Nowadays it's only ever seen on TV so to catch it again on the big screen was a real treat. And in terms of relevance it more than holds its own against modern crime thrillers, and then some!


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