Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Second Time Around 

Wednesday, Nov 20 1996
Point Blank
With a rugged but never hulking torso, a shock of white hair, and a slablike face marked by a mashed nose and piercing eyes, Lee Marvin was a startling, wired big-screen presence. He tears through John Boorman's audacious 1967 gangster film, Point Blank (re-released in a new print), with the force and sheen of a silver bullet. Playing a character named Walker, he has a sure-footed, leopardlike walk that resembles a stripped-down, tuned-up version of John Wayne's. All Walker wants is to get paid for a heist that ended with his wife and best friend betraying him and leaving him for dead. The whole movie is made up of Walker striding through inhuman '60s settings (a garish nightclub, gleaming corporate offices) and confronting Organization bigwigs who never carry cash. He's a Hemingway hero tossed into a credit-card universe.

Boorman's virtuoso modernist style -- full of flash and fragmentation -- is an ideal counterpoint to Marvin's inspired simplicity. The movie has classic, jolting scenes, like Walker shooting a telephone. Angie Dickinson plays Walker's sister-in-law, who helps him get to John Vernon, his traitorous friend. There's a unique mixture of passive sadism and slapstick in the way Marvin just stands there and allows Dickinson to pound herself against his rocklike frame. She ends up slapping herself silly. Sometimes, Walker's violence is all business; sometimes, though, it's personal. As Boorman said after Marvin's death in 1987, "When he fought in World War II, when he was 17, he was brutalized. ... He was war-wounded. He had this compulsion toward violence, but he also had, at the same time, a horror of war and violence. This tremendous conflict is what I was exploring in Point Blank."

-- Michael Sragow

Point Blank screens at 6, 8, and 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21 & 22, at the Roxie, 16th & Valencia. Tickets are $3-6; call 863-1087.

About The Author

Michael Sragow


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


  • Phish at the Bill Graham Auditorium
    Phish is in the midst of a block of sold out shows at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (October 27-29). The Monday night concert featured a rare first set opener of “Walfredo” with the band members switching instruments for the song. The evening’s highlights included John Fishman and his iconic vacuum cleaner solo and favorites such as Chalk Dust Torture, Slave to the Traffic Light, Axilla, Rift, 2001 Space Odyssey, and Maze. The show also featured Phish’s debut of a, seemingly impromptu, version of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” to with roaring approval of the, singing along, crowd. With Game 6 being tonight, partying Phish fans will join Giants fans in Civic Center Plaza where there will be a World Series viewing party on a large screen set up by the City. Photography by Jamie Soja.
  • The 4th Annual Masquerotica 2014 - NSFW
    The theme this year was Carnaval Mystique for the 4th Annual Masquerotica at The Factory. Attendees were entertained by strip dance, trapeze, and live music. Photographs by Calibree Photography.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed