Out of the Past: “Point Blank” (1967)

Violence was all the rage in August of 1967. New Hollywood started with Bonnie and Clyde, and a few weeks later Point Blank was released. While Bonnie and Clyde started a cinematic revolution, Point Blank is one film that should not be overlooked. Starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, the film follows Walker (Marvin) on his sadistic pursuit to seek revenge on his one-time friend, Mel Reese (John Vernon), who left him for dead after stealing $93K. The neo-noir might not have had the impact that the Warren Beatty gangster film which  preceded it into theaters might have had on cinema and the surrounding culture, but the film starring a 47-year-old Lee Marvin was more attuned to the times than one might realize.

point-blank-1967The film was given to John Boorman, a relative newcomer, to direct. Point Blank represented his first big-budget motion picture. Bonnie and Clyde, on the other hand, was given to Arthur Penn (at the time forty-seven years old). Both films embodied a modern interpretation of a genre of film (Bonnie and Clyde–gangster. Point Blank–noir crime film), and both films dealt indirectly with the turmoil of the youth culture in the 1960s.

Walker is up against an entity only known as the “organization.”  The organization has killed Walker’s wife and holds the money owed to him. The “organization” is powerful and far-reaching, consisting of suit and tie business men and large corporations. It was not lost on 1967 audiences and takes little imagination for modern viewers to see that the film is tapping into the fears of a generation that view their government and corporations as dangerous. Walker, like Bonnie and Clyde, are fighting “the man” at every turn; the little people, the regular folk doing what they can to defy the omnipotent disembodied powers that work against the average American.tumblr_lireetSY611qfuepw

The film features LSD imagery, such as when Walker looks into the bathtub and sees the multi-colored bath soap, and a surreal style of editing that makes you play catch up. Point Blank might not have the splashy ultra-violence of Bonnie and Clyde yet it shares its sentiment and is often overlooked as a counter-culture film, and there is no reason that it should.

Paul Gilbert is a 23 year old recent graduate student of the University of Rhode Island from which he received a BA double major in history and film studies. Originally from Philadelphia. Paul now lives in Washington D.C. He first found his passion for film in VHS stores when he was younger and has been studying, examining, and analyzing film and the history of film ever since. Paul has a second interest in the world of comics, video games and books. He is an avid connoisseur and frequent attendee at Comic Con and Wizard World events at sites around the country. His interest in those particular genres stem from the ways in which popular culture utilizes a variety of medium to convey stories, ideas, and messages.