A Movie A Day: Quint takes in POINT BLANK (1967) I want my money.
Published at: June 11, 2008, midnight CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge and plowing through the hundreds of DVDs I own for movies I haven’t seen. Each day I’ll talk about a film I haven’t watched and each film will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today is POINT BLANK (1967), a film I’ve been hearing about since I was a teenager. I guess I always assumed it would come to either the Alamo Drafthouse or play at the Paramount Theater during their annual summer film run and that’s why it took me so long to get to it.
I bought the DVD at the Mill Store on the Warner Bros lot during one of my frequent infiltrations of the studio. This must have been a couple years back now. The Mill Store is the bomb. DVDs just above cost. I usually walk out of there with armloads of discs, including high def discs.
Anyway, their catalogue stuff is always well represented and it was in a big bunch of those that I finally picked up POINT BLANK.
What really struck me with the flick was just how arty it was. It really does feel like a combination of entertaining hard-boiled revenge story and experimental film. Directed by a young John Boorman (DELIVERANCE, EXCALIBUR) in a very unique way, there really isn’t anything else like this flick.
Lee Marvin is a force of nature here. He’s always had that barely-in-check feeling about him, but here you really do feel sorry for whomever he unleashes his full power on.
If you’ve seen PAYBACK, you know where this movie goes. They’re both adapted from the same source material, Donald E. Westlake’s PARKER novels. Guy is doublecrossed on a heist by his wife and her new lover. He’s shot the fuck up, barely survives, and when he recovers he’s out to get his cut of the job. Not even revenge, just what’s owed him.
I quite like PAYBACK (both cuts, but the director’s cut is substantially better… and the early, early cut I was lucky enough to see still included Angie Dickinson’s baddie turn, which, after having seen POINT BLANK, is even more depressing that it’ll never see the light of day) and thought that movie treated its hero harshly, but goddamn, man.
Gibson just has to survive some bullets in the back. Marvin is shot up… on Alcatraz! Not only does he have to drag himself to safety he has to fucking escape Alcatraz, swim away and not get caught up in the current that’d sweep him out to sea… all while carrying a full pistol’s worth of lead in his body!
Gibson couldn’t handle that, but you bet your ass Marvin could.
There’s a sequence in the movie where Marvin gets in a tussle at a movie club and the fight takes place behind the screen… I swear to god he kicks a guy hard enough to pulverize the poor bastard’s stomach.
What I love about Marvin in this is just how he takes his licks. He doesn’t get out clean in anything he does, but he’s so damn tough that he can take the inhuman punishment and just outlast whoever is unlucky enough to be in his crosshairs.
The supporting cast is great in the movie, too. As Marvin goes deeper and deeper into the syndicate trying to get his money he finds more and more badass people. Keenan Wynn pops up knowing a lot more than he should, Angie Dickinson is Marvin’s sister-in-law and plays a big role in helping him get in deeper (to the syndicate, you sickos… but yeah, that, too) and then Carroll O’Connor shows up and just rocks it for the last act.
But as good as they all are, it’s really John Vernon’s show when it comes to the supporting cast. This is an early role for him… I think they even have an “Introducing” credit, but he had been working for years in TV and had bit parts in movies. You’ll remember him as The Mayor in DIRTY HARRY or Dean Wormer in ANIMAL HOUSE.
If there was a guy that could stand up to Marvin it is Vernon in this movie. He has a Robert Shawish quality about him, tough. Of course not tough enough.
Look out for some fine score work from Johnny Mandel, who also scored our first film of the AMAD series, HARPER, and keep an eye peeled for a very young and very skinny Sid Haig as a syndicate guard keeping watch over John Vernon’s hotel lobby.
Also watch out for Angie Dickinson keeping up the quality level of performance and sexuality that we saw in RIO BRAVO yesterday. She's quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses of this period.
Here’s what we have coming up in the next 7 days:
Wednesday, June 11th: POCKET MONEY (1972)
Thursday, June 12th: COOL HAND LUKE (1967)
Friday, June 13th: THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950)
Saturday, June 14th: CLASH BY NIGHT (1952)
Sunday, June 15th: SCARLET STREET (1945)
Monday, June 16th: KILLER BAIT (aka TOO LATE FOR TEARS) (1949)
Tuesday, June 17th: ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964)
Final thoughts: POINT BLANK is an outstanding and bizarre movie. I’m so glad this film exists. There’s a little psychedelic influence, a little Fellini, a lot noir and a lot of crazed energy, all mixed together to make a hard-hitting, still incredibly fun movie.
Tomorrow we follow Lee Marvin over to POCKET MONEY co-starring Paul Newman and written by Terry “Terrence” Malick. See you folks then.