Tag Archives: Point Blank (1967)

Thoughts on Point Blank at 50

Point Blank premiered in San Francisco on August 30 1967. Critically overlooked at the time, its launched John Boorman’s Hollywood directorial career, became a cult hit and has had an enduring influence on crime cinema. It is a film I have watched on numerous occasions and each time it yields new insights. The 50th anniversary is an opportune time for a few thoughts about its importance.

Point Blank was loosely based the 1962 novel, The Hunter, the first in the series of books by the late Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, about the master thief, Parker. It opens with Walker, as the Parker character is called, played by Lee Marvin, double-crossed and left for dead by his friend, Mal (John Vernon), and wife, Lynne (Sharon Acker), with whom Mal was having an affair, after the three of them have heisted a regular money drop on the prison island of Alcatraz by a powerful criminal network, the Organisation. Walker, somehow, survives his wounds and manages to get off the island. He reappears and proceeds to tear Organisation apart to find Mal and get his share from the heist, the amount of $94,000. He is assisted by a mysterious man, Yorst (Keenan Wynn), who at first comes across as a cop, but is eventually revealed as a senior member of the Organisation, who sees in Walker a means to eliminate his internal competitors.… Read more

The Don Siegel Rule

SeigelI had to give it a name, so I called it the Don Siegel Rule.

I was watching Charley Varrick recently, the 1973 heist film directed by Siegel, starring Walter Matthau as an ex-crop duster and stunt pilot turned bank who, along with his long suffering girlfriend, Nadine, and unreliable partner, robs a small bank in New Mexico. Unbeknownst to Varrick, the bank in question is actually a front for the mob. In response, the mob sends a hit man (played by Joe Don Baker) after him.

It’s a terrific little heist film. Tough in all the right places, just enough action and suspense to keep you interested, without the kind of over the top action gimmicks similar films exhibit these days. Matthau is terrific as the hangdog loner, Varrick.

Anyway, it got me thinking. There may be bad Siegel films out there, but I haven’t seen them.

Siegel was the king of the intelligent B movie (a title he shares with directors such as Walter Hill). His films have enormous energy and pace, but they also have an economy. Watching Siegel’s films, time and again he’s been able to get above obvious budget and script limitations to tell a gripping story.

The journeyman director cut his teeth making Westerns and noirs in the late forties and early fifties, and then pretty much excelled at whatever genre he tried.… Read more

LEE, an anthology inspired by Lee Marvin, now available as e-book

Lee-Marvin-Gloria-Graham-and-Glenn-Ford-in-The-Big-Heat-1953Just a quick heads up to let you all know that Crime Factory Publication’s latest publication, LEE, an anthology of short fiction inspired by iconic US actor Lee Marvin is now available as an e-book for Kindle.

You can purchase LEE for your Kindle here for $2.99. The dead tree book is also available from the Crime Factory site for $15.00.

Regular readers will have heard me go on about the LEE anthology a few times on this site. I helped edit LEE, along with my fellow Crime Factory editor Cameron Ashley and founder of the original Crime Factory Magazine, Dave Honeybone, and I’m particularly proud of it.

It features seventeen crime writers, including established pros and newbies such as myself, riffing on various aspects of the fictional life of one of our favourite cultural icons, Lee Marvin.

There’s what Lee got up to off the set of the little known 1955 film, Shack Out on 101, Lee dealing with Apartheid during the filming of Shout at the Devil, Lee at the 1966 Oscars where he won a gong for Cat Bellou, fishing form marlin off the coast of Queensland, lending a helping hand to the props man on the classic Point Blank, coming off second best from an encounter with Andy Warhol at Studio 54.… Read more

LEE, an anthology of fiction inspired by Lee Marvin

LEE cover-I am a HUGE Lee Marvin fan.

Survivor of the carnage of World War Two, drinker, larger than life character, enduring icon of masculine cinema, the star of some of  my favourite films, including The Big Heat, The KillersPoint Blank, Prime Cut and The Dirty Dozen. The man who, in the words of his most recent biographer, “cemented the most purposeful and consistent portrayal of man’s violent and primal inner demons in the history of modern American cinema”.

Well over a year ago myself and fellow Marvin fanatic and Crime Factory editor in chief Cameron Ashley, were sitting in a bar drunkenly bullshitting about future projects, when we stumbled across the idea of doing an anthology of stories inspired by the life of one of our favourite movie stars.

The final product of that conversation, LEE, will be unleashed onto the world in a few weeks time. In the meantime, I thought readers might get a blast out of feasting their eyes on the cover above.

While putting together the book was not without its challenges, finding fellow crime writers who shared our passion for Marvin and who where prepared to put pen to paper to celebrate him and his movies, was not one of them. … Read more

The Killers 1964 & 1946

The following is posted as part of Furious Cinema’s Scenes of the Crime Blog-a-Thon. It originally appeared in the Fall 2012 edition of Noir City.

One short story, Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers, which appeared in 1927, two film versions.  Robert Siodmak directed the first in 1946. Don Siegel helmed the later in 1964. Both films begin with the premise of Hemingway’s 2951 word piece; two anonymous professional killers hired to murder a man, but in most other respects are completely different.

Siodmak’s movie opens, to the accompaniment of Miklos Rozsa’s brassy jazz score, with the arrival of the killers in a small town. It’s night and all we see are their silhouettes backlit by streetlights. First they check the filling station. Finding it closed, they cross the road, go into Henry’s Diner. You can tell they’re professionals, each enters a different way, cutting off any possibility of their quarry escaping.

In the space of a few minutes, Al (Charles McGraw) and Max (William Conrad), establish a sense of menace and disorientation as good as any classic noir cinema has to offer. After rubbishing the diner’s food and the customer’s small town ways, they tell George, the man behind the counter:

“I tell you what we’re going to do, we’re going to kill the Swede.”

“What are you going to kill him for?

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