Point Blank

Director: John Boorman

The reissue of Point Blank in a new print confirms its status as one of the defining films of the sixties and as director John Boorman’s masterpiece. This was Boorman’s first Hollywood picture, and he brought to the crime genre the freshness of a European sensibility. Traditional qualities of straightforward storytelling and a moral hero at the centre of the drama were replaced with a splintered narrative, stylized visuals and a complex editing pattern which showed the influence of French New Wave directors.
Point Blank was Boorman’s response to American, and crucial to his approach was the choice of Lee Marvin to play the central character. For me, Boorman has said, Marvin was somehow the essence of America – big and wild and dangerous… In many ways the film was a study of Lee.
This gripping, fable-like thriller has a cyclical story that ends as it begins, with a heist gone awry on the former prison island of Alcatraz. At the start, the gangster Walker (Marvin) is shot at point-blank range and left for dead by his mobster friend and unfaithful wife. Walker somehow survives and embarks on a quest to retrieve his share of the loot. His searcy brings him to Los Angeles and the discovery of the Organisations, a crime syndicate run by businessmen in smart suits who inhabit elegant offices. Walker teams up with his sister-in-law (a wonderful Angie Dickenson), who helps him to infiltrate the Organisation’s headquarters. Almost psychotically violent, Walker leaves a trail of corpses in his wake as he heads towards another rendezvous on Alcatraz.
Point Blank works as both a thick-ear thriller and as an inspired allegory of modern America. Marvin is terrific as the old-style hard man whose brutal demands for money seem anachroistic to the new criminals. Visually, the movie is very striking, with Boorman and his cinematographer, Philip Lathrop, making excellent use of Los Angeles locations.

Book Tickets