Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Carroll O'Connor, Keenan Wynn, Lloyd Bochner, Michael Strong
Written by: Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse, based on the novel "The Hunter" by Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake)
Directed by: John Boorman
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 92
Date: 08/30/1967

Point Blank (1967)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Walker on the Wild Side

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lee Marvin makes a perfect, unfazed human center to John Boorman'sbizarre, psychedelic universe in Point Blank. No matter how crazyBoorman gets, manipulating time and space and sound within the gloriousCinemascope frame, going from monochrome color schemes to bright globsof primary colors, Marvin is the pillar that holds it up. With his graysuit and gray hair, he plays Walker, a criminal betrayed and left fordead by his wife and best friend. When he gets out of Alcatraz, hebegins on an absurd trail of carnage, seeking not revenge but simply themoney that he's owed. He climbs higher into increasingly corrupt cornersuntil he finally encounters the kingpin (Carroll O'Connor) and thefilm's great ending. Angie Dickinson is at her sexiest as the girl, andJohn Vernon (best known as Dean Wormer in National Lampoon's AnimalHouse) plays Marvin's former friend and betrayer. Boorman returned tothe crime genre in 1998 with the superb The General, but Point Blankremains arguably his best film.

Brian Helgeland and Mel Gibson remade Point Blank in 1999 as Payback, with decidedly lesser results. The author of the source material, Richard Stark, is really Donald E. Westlake, who went on to write the screenplays for The Stepfather (1987) and The Grifters (1990).

DVD Details: Warner Home Video has released this widescreen masterpiece, at long last, on a stunning new DVD. It carries over an extra from the old laserdisc release, a mini-documentary about Alcatraz Island called "The Rock" (not to be confused with the Michael Bay movie of the same name), and it includes a new commentary track by Boorman, with Steven Soderbergh as his special guest. Over the years, Soderbergh has stolen -- and admits to stealing -- quite a bit of material from Point Blank to use in his own films (especially The Limey). Otherwise, the disc comes with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Point Blank is part of Warner Home Video's new Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 2 (also including Clash by Night, Crossfire, Dillinger, The Narrow Margin and Born to Kill).

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