Point Blank

John Boorman

T. it.: Senza un attimo di tregua. Sog.: Donald E. Westlake. Scen.: Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse. F.: Philip H. Lathrop. Scgf.: Keogh Gleason. Mu.: Johnny Mandel. Int.: Lee Marvin (Walker), Angie Dickinson (Chris), Keenan Wynn (Yost), Carroll O’Connor (Brewster), Lloyd Bochner (Frederick Carter), Michael Strong (Stegman). Prod.: Judd Bernard, Robert Chartoff. Pri. pro.: 30 agosto 1967 35mm. D.: 92’.


T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Though belonging to the unexpected revival of the Hollywood thriller in the mid-Sixties, a gangster film like Point Blank is easily distinguishable from the concurrent ‘private eye’ cycle, represented by such titles as P.J. Harper, Tony Rome and Peter Gunn. It is, in a sense, the extreme – and, to this day, un­surpassed – culmination of a phenomenon first seen in Don Siegel’s The Killers which also co-starred Lee Marvin and Angie Dick­inson […]. The apparition of the ice-cold, robotic killer, of whom Johnny Cool was yet another incarnation. The world of the private eye, latterly illustrated by Jack Smight and Gordon Douglas, Blake Edwards and John Guillermin, engendered a return to ‘psychol­ogy’, to social satire and the picturesque, to a brand of story-telling in which the intrica­cy of human relationships was rivalled only by the complication of the plot. Point Blank, by contrast, plays down both characteriza­tion and psychology, reduces motivation to the absolute essential and dispenses with labyrinthine subplots, thereby, quite natu­rally, acquiring the stark linearity of a fable. And if Boorman’s use of flashbacks was crit­icized in certain quarters as gratuitous and too patently ‘European’ in influence, we can now see how integral they are to the overall narrative thrust. In fact, they serve a wholly different function from those found in tra­ditional thrillers. Their expository value is virtually nil: the information which they con­tain might just as well have been conveyed in two or three lines of dialogue. What they do possess, however, is a visual immediacy that is as poetic as it is sheerly physical. Superficially, Point Blank would appear to be just a story of vengeance. And it is that, certainly, from beginning to end. But it’s also possible to interpret it as a more com­plex allegory, as a symbolic portrait of the United States […]. The circular construction of the narra­tive, moreover, eventually lends the whole film an aura of unreality, or of reality fil­tered through dreams, of lighting suffused by memories – as is suggested by certain gauzy images of Lee Marvin. Its closing shots – of the abandoned prison and its stone walls, the water of the river and the lights twinkling in the night sky – would 262 appear to confirm the words spoken by the guide on a sightseeing steamer: that the treacherous currents encircling the island preclude all possibility of escape. Caught in the whirlwind of a storm which he him­self has raised, Walker can no more easily escape from his nightmare. This dreamlike atmosphere is reinforced by the doubling of Walker’s wife Lynne, who appears to have been reincarnated in her sister Chris (and the casting of Sharon Acker and Angie Dick­inson, who physically resemble each other, was a deliberate ploy on Boorman’s part).
(Michel Ciment, John Boorman, Faber and Faber, London-Boston 1986)

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