DATELINE: Unusual Film Resurfaces
Can it really be 50 years since John Boorman gave us his curious precursor to Twin Peaks, long before David Lynch had a brainstorm?
Point Blank confounded audiences in 1967 who were far less prepared for the kind of stuff Lynch gave us 25 years later. This film essentially introduced Boorman to serious audiences. It took a crime film and made it arty.
Lee Marvin is the dead Walker, left to die in haunted, empty Alcatraz after a botched crime pickup. Some undetermined time later, he is looking for revenge, in a gray suit with white hair. No one knows him by any other name, and everyone asks, “Aren’t you dead?”
Boorman films Marvin through screens, drapes, and other opaque filters. He even grapples with a ghostly sheet after he drives his nemesis off the penthouse roof.
Walker wants his money as well as revenge—and a litany of marvelous actors plays the hierarchy of the Mob, befuddled by him. John Vernon, Lloyd Bochner, and a marvelous and hilarious Carroll O’Connor, are his lineup.
Angie Dickinson spends a full minute trying to beat him up, slapping and punching the impervious Marvin in an amazing bit.
Marvin is indestructible and single-minded as Walker.
The film is short in minutes, but long on violent moments that were a revelation 50 years ago. The film plays with haunting memories repeatedly as Walker seems obsessed with reliving them, like a residual spirit.
It’s a tour de force by Lee Marvin and John Boorman. Just wonderful and fresh 50 years later.