Point Blank


1h 32m 1967
Point Blank

Brief Synopsis

A gangster plots an elaborate revenge on the wife and partner who did him dirty.

Photos & Videos

Point Blank - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Point Blank - Angie Dickinson Publicity Stills

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Thriller
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
San Francisco opening: 30 Aug 1967
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Alcatraz Island, California, USA; San Francisco, California, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark (New York, 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

After taking part in the robbery of a large shipment of cash being transferred by helicopter on deserted Alcatraz, a man known as Walker is shot and left for dead by his partner Mal Reese, who then runs off with Walker's faithless wife, Lynne. Two years later, while on a guided tour around the island, Walker is stopped by a stranger, Yost, who offers to help him recover his share of the money by leading him to both Lynne and the criminal organization to which Reese now belongs. After Lynne has killed herself in despair, Walker takes up with her sister, Chris, who helps get him into Reese's heavily-guarded penthouse. As Walker threatens him, Reese plunges from a terrace to his death. Still determined to get his money, Walker continues to hunt down other members of the organization in Los Angeles. After two of them, Carter and car dealer Stegman, die in a trap intended for him, Walker makes his way to the combine's second-in-command, Brewster. Greedy to take over the number one spot in the organization, Brewster proposes that Walker outwit the top man, Fairfax, by pulling a hijack job similar to the previous one at Alcatraz. Walker accompanies Brewster to Fort Point, San Francisco, where the cash transfer is to take place. As Brewster picks up the packet of money, a shot rings out and he falls dead. Then Yost--who is actually Fairfax--appears to acknowledge Walker's unwitting assistance in eliminating those organization men who were a threat to his power. After offering Walker a job, Fairfax points to the packet of money and tells him to come and take it. Standing in the darkness, Walker considers the proposition for a moment and then disappears into the shadows.

Photo Collections

Point Blank - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few shots taken behind-the-scenes during production of Point Blank (1967), directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson.
Point Blank - Angie Dickinson Publicity Stills
Here are some photos of Angie Dickinson, taken to help publicize MGM's Point Blank (1967). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Thriller
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
San Francisco opening: 30 Aug 1967
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Los Angeles, California, USA; Alcatraz Island, California, USA; San Francisco, California, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark (New York, 1963).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Point Blank


Generally acknowledged by most film critics as director John Boorman's most influential film, Point Blank (1967) is a modern day film noir thriller that employs the techniques and thematic concerns of French New Wave filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais to tell a story about basic human greed and retribution. As Walker, the central character in the film, Lee Marvin moves with the precision of a machine, cold, calculating, relentless; he could be the predecessor to Arnold Schwarzenegger's annihilating cyborg in The Terminator (1984).

What Walker wants is revenge. After being double-crossed by his partner, Mal Reese (John Vernon), in a robbery and left to die from bullet wounds, Walker manages to survive and eventually track down his betrayer, who not only absconded with a shipment of mob money but also took his wife as a mistress. Mal turns out to be just one player in a complex scheme masterminded by the "Organization," an inaccessible group of high-profile executives. Walker's attempts to locate his money and avenge his honor are repeatedly frustrated by this new breed of criminal - corporate lawyers and businessmen who traffic in stocks, bonds and credit cards, not hard cash.

Point Blank is a brutal, stylish and innovative film, certainly unlike any other American movie released in 1967. It's also significant as the first collaboration between the director and actor Lee Marvin. After this feature, they would work together on Hell in the Pacific (1968), an intriguing tale of survival set on a deserted island during World War II and co-starring Toshiro Mifune.

In Lee: A Memoir by Pamela Marvin, the actor recalled the genesis of Point Blank: "I was filming The Dirty Dozen in London when I met John Boorman for the first time. A young producer, Judd Bernard, wanted me for one of his projects, the adaptation of a thriller that was to become Point Blank. Boorman came to my home several times and we immediately got on the same wavelength. We'd talk about emotions, about mythologies....It was one of those chance meetings that evolve into a friendship. Later I suggested we make a movie together....We swapped ideas on Zen Buddhism, on war, on the movie's visuals. Boorman's very good at speaking with actors; for some of them he can even be too intellectual. Working with him isn't easy; but for me that's a compliment, because he forces you to think. When you begin a day's shooting under his direction you know that by the evening you're going to be worn out by the demands he makes on you."

While Boorman's command of the medium is indeed dazzling - jump cuts, slow-motion, the repetition of scenes for emphasis, amplified sound effects, dreamlike imagery and a fragmented sense of time - it is hard to imagine Point Blank without the participation of Marvin. His grimly determined gangster drives the narrative and makes an indelible impression on viewers; it's one of his most iconic performances, though he'd played a similar character - a hit man - in the 1964 version of The Killers. Equally impressive is Angie Dickinson as Walker's sister-in-law, whom he uses as bait to trap his former partner. The wordless sequence where she turns on every appliance in the house before physically attacking Walker, pounding on his chest until she's exhausted, is still remarkable for its contrast between her emotionalism and his dehumanized presence.

Mel Gibson would later remake Point Blank as Payback in 1999, and while it captured the escalating violence of its original source material - The Hunter written by Richard Stark (a pseudonym for author Donald E. Westlake) - it lacked the cinematic virtuosity and metaphorical significance of Boorman's version.

Point Blank never really caught on with American audiences, but it was enthusiastically received in Europe and has since become a cult film favorite of many. In one of the more articulate assessments of Point Blank, Chris Petit of the TimeOut Film Guide wrote that "people have noted the influence of Resnais behind the film's time lapses and possible dream setting, but Godard's Alphaville offers a more rewarding comparison. Both films use the gangster/thriller framework to explore the increasing depersonalisation of living in a mechanized urban world. Just as Constantine's Lemmy Caution was a figure from the past stranded in a futuristic setting, so Marvin's bullet-headed gangster is an anachronism from the '50s transported to San Francisco and LA of the '60s, a world of concrete slabs and menacing vertical lines."

Point Blank also features a cinematic first in screen violence - Marvin delivers a karate chop to a man's groin in one fatal encounter.

Producer: Judd Bernard
Director: John Boorman
Screenplay: Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse, Donald E. Westlake
Production Design: Keogh Gleason, Henry W. Grace
Cinematography: Philip H. Lathrop
Costume Design: Margo Weintz
Film Editing: Henry Berman
Original Music: Johnny Mandel
Cast: Lee Marvin (Walker), Angie Dickinson (Chris), Keenan Wynn (Fairfax, "Yost"), Carroll O'Connor (Brewster), Lloyd Bochner (Frederick Carter), John Vernon (Mal Reese), Sharon Acker (Lynne), Michael Strong (Stegman), James Sikking (Hired Gun).
C-92m. Letterboxed.

by Jeff Stafford
Point Blank

Point Blank

Generally acknowledged by most film critics as director John Boorman's most influential film, Point Blank (1967) is a modern day film noir thriller that employs the techniques and thematic concerns of French New Wave filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais to tell a story about basic human greed and retribution. As Walker, the central character in the film, Lee Marvin moves with the precision of a machine, cold, calculating, relentless; he could be the predecessor to Arnold Schwarzenegger's annihilating cyborg in The Terminator (1984). What Walker wants is revenge. After being double-crossed by his partner, Mal Reese (John Vernon), in a robbery and left to die from bullet wounds, Walker manages to survive and eventually track down his betrayer, who not only absconded with a shipment of mob money but also took his wife as a mistress. Mal turns out to be just one player in a complex scheme masterminded by the "Organization," an inaccessible group of high-profile executives. Walker's attempts to locate his money and avenge his honor are repeatedly frustrated by this new breed of criminal - corporate lawyers and businessmen who traffic in stocks, bonds and credit cards, not hard cash. Point Blank is a brutal, stylish and innovative film, certainly unlike any other American movie released in 1967. It's also significant as the first collaboration between the director and actor Lee Marvin. After this feature, they would work together on Hell in the Pacific (1968), an intriguing tale of survival set on a deserted island during World War II and co-starring Toshiro Mifune. In Lee: A Memoir by Pamela Marvin, the actor recalled the genesis of Point Blank: "I was filming The Dirty Dozen in London when I met John Boorman for the first time. A young producer, Judd Bernard, wanted me for one of his projects, the adaptation of a thriller that was to become Point Blank. Boorman came to my home several times and we immediately got on the same wavelength. We'd talk about emotions, about mythologies....It was one of those chance meetings that evolve into a friendship. Later I suggested we make a movie together....We swapped ideas on Zen Buddhism, on war, on the movie's visuals. Boorman's very good at speaking with actors; for some of them he can even be too intellectual. Working with him isn't easy; but for me that's a compliment, because he forces you to think. When you begin a day's shooting under his direction you know that by the evening you're going to be worn out by the demands he makes on you." While Boorman's command of the medium is indeed dazzling - jump cuts, slow-motion, the repetition of scenes for emphasis, amplified sound effects, dreamlike imagery and a fragmented sense of time - it is hard to imagine Point Blank without the participation of Marvin. His grimly determined gangster drives the narrative and makes an indelible impression on viewers; it's one of his most iconic performances, though he'd played a similar character - a hit man - in the 1964 version of The Killers. Equally impressive is Angie Dickinson as Walker's sister-in-law, whom he uses as bait to trap his former partner. The wordless sequence where she turns on every appliance in the house before physically attacking Walker, pounding on his chest until she's exhausted, is still remarkable for its contrast between her emotionalism and his dehumanized presence. Mel Gibson would later remake Point Blank as Payback in 1999, and while it captured the escalating violence of its original source material - The Hunter written by Richard Stark (a pseudonym for author Donald E. Westlake) - it lacked the cinematic virtuosity and metaphorical significance of Boorman's version. Point Blank never really caught on with American audiences, but it was enthusiastically received in Europe and has since become a cult film favorite of many. In one of the more articulate assessments of Point Blank, Chris Petit of the TimeOut Film Guide wrote that "people have noted the influence of Resnais behind the film's time lapses and possible dream setting, but Godard's Alphaville offers a more rewarding comparison. Both films use the gangster/thriller framework to explore the increasing depersonalisation of living in a mechanized urban world. Just as Constantine's Lemmy Caution was a figure from the past stranded in a futuristic setting, so Marvin's bullet-headed gangster is an anachronism from the '50s transported to San Francisco and LA of the '60s, a world of concrete slabs and menacing vertical lines." Point Blank also features a cinematic first in screen violence - Marvin delivers a karate chop to a man's groin in one fatal encounter. Producer: Judd Bernard Director: John Boorman Screenplay: Alexander Jacobs, David Newhouse, Rafe Newhouse, Donald E. Westlake Production Design: Keogh Gleason, Henry W. Grace Cinematography: Philip H. Lathrop Costume Design: Margo Weintz Film Editing: Henry Berman Original Music: Johnny Mandel Cast: Lee Marvin (Walker), Angie Dickinson (Chris), Keenan Wynn (Fairfax, "Yost"), Carroll O'Connor (Brewster), Lloyd Bochner (Frederick Carter), John Vernon (Mal Reese), Sharon Acker (Lynne), Michael Strong (Stegman), James Sikking (Hired Gun). C-92m. Letterboxed. by Jeff Stafford

Point Blank on Blu-ray


When documentary filmmaker John Boorman made the leap to feature filmmaking with Catch Us If You Can (aka Having a Wild Weekend, 1965), a low-budget rock-n-roll vehicle for the Dave Clark Five, he transformed the quickie into a surprisingly biting satire of popular culture set to a bouncy soundtrack, displaying a remarkable sophistication and creativity unexpected from such a project. It was enough to land him his first American film, Point Blank, where he revealed an even greater ambition and talent.

Based on the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark (a pen name for Donald Westlake), Point Blank shuffles the lean, straight-forward story of a gunman named Walker (Lee Marvin), who is double crossed by his partner in crime and returns (seemingly from the dead) for revenge, into a surreal, abstracted crime drama. The plot is faithful to original novel, a hard-boiled piece of crime fiction reimagined for the underworld culture of the sixties, but Boorman and Marvin, who requested the young director and supported his unconventional vision for the film, refract it through a modern lens. Walker's odyssey from Alcatraz in San Francisco to the underworld of Los Angeles is splintered with short, sharp shards of memory that cut through his story, as if reflecting Walker's attempts to put the pieces of cause and effect together in his mind.

Boorman views L.A. through an alienated lens and edits it more like a European art film than an American crime thriller, but fills it with offbeat, ultra-stylized scenes of violence. It opens on a gunshot that should have killed him and he struggles to put it all together when he wakes up: "Cell. Prison cell. How did I get here?" Marvin is enigmatic, to say the least, as he tracks down his unfaithful, guilt-ridden wife (Sharon Acker), his wife's sister (Angie Dickinson), his old friend turned double-crossing heist partner Mal Reese (John Veron), and finally the syndicate bigwigs, all just to get his due: "I want my 93 grand."

This vision of urban Los Angeles is alternately crowded and noisy and urban, and austere and empty and dislocated. His footsteps echoing through an empty, anonymous hallway becomes the disembodied beat of his march of revenge. A scatting, screaming R&B singer at a chic night spot called The Film Club is the feral soundtrack of a brutal backstage fight, at once visceral and abstracted in the clutter of 35mm film cans and nightclub supplies. The aftermath of a suicide becomes a psychedelic vision of destruction, which disappears in a cut to the apartment suddenly empty, a ghost house with no evidence of life or death, just transition.

The dialogue is loaded with references to "a dream" and characters constant remind Walker that he's supposed to be dead. Keenan Wynn adds another level of remove as the devil whispering in Walker's ear, another unreal figure with a carefully concealed agenda who is preternaturally attuned to Walker's movements. More than an informant, he appears from nowhere to provide a name, an address, a piece of information on the trail to the top man in the Organization as Walker's debt keeps getting passed up the chain of command.

Walker is both an unstoppable sentinel who seems more than flesh and blood and a vulnerable man wounded by betrayal who has armored over his emotions with a mission. Marvin delivers both sides of the character without compromising either. There's a cold fury under his deliberate movements and his eyes betray a moment of regret and sadness when he finds his wife dead by her own hand, but it is all pushed down and kept in check by his single-minded focus. "I just want my money" is his mantra, not a matter of greed but a debt to be settled to balance the scales. Marvin is at once deliberate and relaxed, a veteran criminal soldier alert to everything, which makes his character even more fascinating. He doesn't demand attention on screen, he commands it through confidence and ability and cool focus.

That alone makes him more admirable than Mal, who is played by John Vernon as an oily, arrogant, amoral rat, selling out anyone and everyone to buy his way back into the Organization. The rest of the members of the cast don't play characters as much as cogs, functionaries in a criminal enterprise as a cutthroat corporation, simply doing their jobs as if Walker was a rival in a hostile takeover. Only Angie Dickinson's Chris has the passion and fury and emotional life of a human being, siding with Walker out of both loyalty and for payback against Mal ("He makes my flesh crawl") and the Organization that has taken over her business and her life. Sharon Acker, who plays Walker's wife, comes off less haunted than simply weak. She barely leaves an impression, which is fitting for her character but fails to offer any sense of tragedy to her story, and she's almost instantly forgotten after she exits the film. It's really the only weak element of the film, which otherwise is strong, confident, and sure from beginning to end.

Point Blank has been called a modern film noir but it has more in common with Performance, another crime thriller that fractures time, offers enigmatic and ambiguous characters, and equates organized crime with big business. Boorman delivers meticulously executed set pieces that are designed for the wide CinemaScope frame with a sure sense of space and a dispassionate perspective. He emphasizes intelligence over action and presents Walker as total professional, never flustered and always emotionally removed from the situation. And if Walker is an extreme incarnation of the revenge driven noir anti-hero, the modern syndicate has transformed the old school mob into a world of paper jungles and corporate businessmen, an alienating concept to a two-fisted, gun-wielding independent like Walker. "Profit is the only principle," is their motto. Almost 50 years later, it's more modernist than modern, a fascinating time capsule of an era when young directors brought nouvelle vague style to classic genres, and a cryptic crime thriller that turns Marvin into the most enigmatic criminal professional in the movies.

Boorman creates a hard, austere look for the film and the new Blu-ray delivers a sharp clarity to his vision of Los Angeles as an impersonal modern city. Apart from a few scenes, he strips the frame down to isolated figures in an empty urban landscape under the hard light of the California sun. It's an urban desert and the disc preserves that atmosphere of a ghost city by day and a shadowy underworld at night when the crowds gather on the streets and in the clubs. The impersonal palette of concrete surfaces and blank office interiors in the day gives way to the color of human habitation after dark, which oddly enough has a warmer atmosphere than the harsh light of day.

Carried over from the earlier DVD release is an audio commentary track with director John Boorman and fellow director Steven Soderbergh, a fan of the film who essentially hosts the commentary. He engages Boorman in conversations about the film's style, the use of color and camera lenses, working with Lee Marvin (who became close friends with Boorman), and making his Hollywood debut with a film that refused to play by the studio rules. Soderbergh's The Limey was clearly indebted to Point Blank in both its theme of revenge and in its fractured storytelling and unconventional use of flashbacks. Taking part in this commentary is like paying tribute to his inspiration.

Also features the vintage promotional featurette The Rock (in two parts), which looks at shooting the film on location in Alcatraz, and the original trailer.

by Sean Axmaker

Point Blank on Blu-ray

When documentary filmmaker John Boorman made the leap to feature filmmaking with Catch Us If You Can (aka Having a Wild Weekend, 1965), a low-budget rock-n-roll vehicle for the Dave Clark Five, he transformed the quickie into a surprisingly biting satire of popular culture set to a bouncy soundtrack, displaying a remarkable sophistication and creativity unexpected from such a project. It was enough to land him his first American film, Point Blank, where he revealed an even greater ambition and talent. Based on the novel The Hunter by Richard Stark (a pen name for Donald Westlake), Point Blank shuffles the lean, straight-forward story of a gunman named Walker (Lee Marvin), who is double crossed by his partner in crime and returns (seemingly from the dead) for revenge, into a surreal, abstracted crime drama. The plot is faithful to original novel, a hard-boiled piece of crime fiction reimagined for the underworld culture of the sixties, but Boorman and Marvin, who requested the young director and supported his unconventional vision for the film, refract it through a modern lens. Walker's odyssey from Alcatraz in San Francisco to the underworld of Los Angeles is splintered with short, sharp shards of memory that cut through his story, as if reflecting Walker's attempts to put the pieces of cause and effect together in his mind. Boorman views L.A. through an alienated lens and edits it more like a European art film than an American crime thriller, but fills it with offbeat, ultra-stylized scenes of violence. It opens on a gunshot that should have killed him and he struggles to put it all together when he wakes up: "Cell. Prison cell. How did I get here?" Marvin is enigmatic, to say the least, as he tracks down his unfaithful, guilt-ridden wife (Sharon Acker), his wife's sister (Angie Dickinson), his old friend turned double-crossing heist partner Mal Reese (John Veron), and finally the syndicate bigwigs, all just to get his due: "I want my 93 grand." This vision of urban Los Angeles is alternately crowded and noisy and urban, and austere and empty and dislocated. His footsteps echoing through an empty, anonymous hallway becomes the disembodied beat of his march of revenge. A scatting, screaming R&B singer at a chic night spot called The Film Club is the feral soundtrack of a brutal backstage fight, at once visceral and abstracted in the clutter of 35mm film cans and nightclub supplies. The aftermath of a suicide becomes a psychedelic vision of destruction, which disappears in a cut to the apartment suddenly empty, a ghost house with no evidence of life or death, just transition. The dialogue is loaded with references to "a dream" and characters constant remind Walker that he's supposed to be dead. Keenan Wynn adds another level of remove as the devil whispering in Walker's ear, another unreal figure with a carefully concealed agenda who is preternaturally attuned to Walker's movements. More than an informant, he appears from nowhere to provide a name, an address, a piece of information on the trail to the top man in the Organization as Walker's debt keeps getting passed up the chain of command. Walker is both an unstoppable sentinel who seems more than flesh and blood and a vulnerable man wounded by betrayal who has armored over his emotions with a mission. Marvin delivers both sides of the character without compromising either. There's a cold fury under his deliberate movements and his eyes betray a moment of regret and sadness when he finds his wife dead by her own hand, but it is all pushed down and kept in check by his single-minded focus. "I just want my money" is his mantra, not a matter of greed but a debt to be settled to balance the scales. Marvin is at once deliberate and relaxed, a veteran criminal soldier alert to everything, which makes his character even more fascinating. He doesn't demand attention on screen, he commands it through confidence and ability and cool focus. That alone makes him more admirable than Mal, who is played by John Vernon as an oily, arrogant, amoral rat, selling out anyone and everyone to buy his way back into the Organization. The rest of the members of the cast don't play characters as much as cogs, functionaries in a criminal enterprise as a cutthroat corporation, simply doing their jobs as if Walker was a rival in a hostile takeover. Only Angie Dickinson's Chris has the passion and fury and emotional life of a human being, siding with Walker out of both loyalty and for payback against Mal ("He makes my flesh crawl") and the Organization that has taken over her business and her life. Sharon Acker, who plays Walker's wife, comes off less haunted than simply weak. She barely leaves an impression, which is fitting for her character but fails to offer any sense of tragedy to her story, and she's almost instantly forgotten after she exits the film. It's really the only weak element of the film, which otherwise is strong, confident, and sure from beginning to end. Point Blank has been called a modern film noir but it has more in common with Performance, another crime thriller that fractures time, offers enigmatic and ambiguous characters, and equates organized crime with big business. Boorman delivers meticulously executed set pieces that are designed for the wide CinemaScope frame with a sure sense of space and a dispassionate perspective. He emphasizes intelligence over action and presents Walker as total professional, never flustered and always emotionally removed from the situation. And if Walker is an extreme incarnation of the revenge driven noir anti-hero, the modern syndicate has transformed the old school mob into a world of paper jungles and corporate businessmen, an alienating concept to a two-fisted, gun-wielding independent like Walker. "Profit is the only principle," is their motto. Almost 50 years later, it's more modernist than modern, a fascinating time capsule of an era when young directors brought nouvelle vague style to classic genres, and a cryptic crime thriller that turns Marvin into the most enigmatic criminal professional in the movies. Boorman creates a hard, austere look for the film and the new Blu-ray delivers a sharp clarity to his vision of Los Angeles as an impersonal modern city. Apart from a few scenes, he strips the frame down to isolated figures in an empty urban landscape under the hard light of the California sun. It's an urban desert and the disc preserves that atmosphere of a ghost city by day and a shadowy underworld at night when the crowds gather on the streets and in the clubs. The impersonal palette of concrete surfaces and blank office interiors in the day gives way to the color of human habitation after dark, which oddly enough has a warmer atmosphere than the harsh light of day. Carried over from the earlier DVD release is an audio commentary track with director John Boorman and fellow director Steven Soderbergh, a fan of the film who essentially hosts the commentary. He engages Boorman in conversations about the film's style, the use of color and camera lenses, working with Lee Marvin (who became close friends with Boorman), and making his Hollywood debut with a film that refused to play by the studio rules. Soderbergh's The Limey was clearly indebted to Point Blank in both its theme of revenge and in its fractured storytelling and unconventional use of flashbacks. Taking part in this commentary is like paying tribute to his inspiration. Also features the vintage promotional featurette The Rock (in two parts), which looks at shooting the film on location in Alcatraz, and the original trailer. by Sean Axmaker

Point Blank


Point Blank was made long after the official end of the noir era but exhibits several of its classic themes. Referred to as the movie about a Hit Man with a serious case of Antonioni-itis, it cleaned up in 1967 alongside Warners' other popular bloodbath, Bonnie & Clyde. It continued to play in frequent Los Angeles revivals and midnight shows for five or six years, where one could always detect a certain tobacco-like aroma ... the film's hazy LA dreamscape was perfect head-trip material.

Synopsis: Fun-loving Walker (Lee Marvin) is shot and left for dead during a robbery by his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) and his best friend Mal Reese (John Vernon). A year later, he turns up alive and well, guided by a man named Yost (Keenan Wynn) on a quest into the criminal underworld. Walker is after the 93 thousand dollars he's owed, and Yost wants a bunch of syndicate middlemen eliminated. Walker locates Lynne but eventually uses her sister Chris (Angie Dickinson) to track down Mal, Big John Stegman (Michael Strong), Fred Carter (Lloyd Bochner) and eventually the top man Brewster (Carrol O'Connor). Chris accuses Walker of being a monomaniacal zombie. The way he behaves, he indeed may be some kind of a ghost.

The key image in Point Blank is massive Lee Marvin striding down the old LAX corridors like a robot on overdrive. This is inter-cut jarringly with intimate shots of Sharon Acker putting on her makeup, creating an indelible visual contrast. This essential LA gangster film was made by a UK director whose only previous feature was a musical about the Dave Clark Five. Yet he has a natural understanding of hardboiled intrigue and powerhouse action scenes. The most dynamic moments are frequently repeated in flashbacks, sometimes even in slow motion. Marvin's Walker crashes through a doorway to strong-arm his ex-wife and shoot big black holes in her empty bed: It plays like a ballet yet is one of the more violent actions in any movie of the 1960s. Surely Sam Peckinpah was watching...

Point Blank is a simple revenge and payback story boiled down to its existential essence, and then pumped up with a visual treatment that resembles the work of Alain Resnais. It's interesting that just five or six years after something Last Year at Marienbad, ordinary American audiences would have no trouble following the time-fractured exploits of a (possibly) ghostly hit man. The moment of Walker's shooting in Alcatraz is repeated at least five times, and scene after scene unfolds in a weird limbo that co-exists with everyday Los Angeles reality (something LA residents have always understood). Jump cuts leap ahead in time exactly as would Kubrick's 2001 the next year.

Rationally speaking, the story makes no sense, as Walker is twice shot point-blank in an Alcatraz cell. He then hobbles painfully into the currents of San Francisco Bay that routinely sweep even strong swimmers out to sea. But our Walker unaccountably turns up a year later with a variable wardrobe of undefined origin, to make short work of one mob functionary after another.

After a classic crash-'em car ride with John Stegman, Walker works his way upward through the mob hierarchy, a faceless corporation of ruthless executives who carry no money but wield excessive power. There's great fun to be had watching Walker decimate their best killers. He suckers Lloyd Bochner's Carter, an unlikable bully, into stepping into his own death trap.

Point Blank flirts with nudity as regards Angie Dickinson, who helps Walker but is frustrated by his lack of feeling. The second best image in the show is the sight of Dickinson losing her composure and hitting, slapping and slugging Marvin as hard as she can. He stands like an immovable rock until she collapses in exhaustion. It's an abstract illustration of relationship problems that would be worthy of Jacques Tati, if he made violent movies.

Boorman frames a steady stream of bizarre visuals through Philip Lathrop's wide-angled Panavision lens. Perfumes and unguents mix in the bottom of a bathtub, another prophetic image from 2001. Images are diffracted through gratings and a disco nightclub uses a psychedelic light show as a wild setting for a brutal fistfight. The only visual cliché is one mannered shot of characters posed 'just so' in a shattered mirror.

Marvin is a Golem with a magnum pistol, gray-haired and wearing a constant mask-like expression. John Vernon is a standout as the treacherous mobster, begging Walker to help him in a roomful of loud men. Carroll O'Connor and Keenan Wynn are also excellent as the top dogs that Walker can't seem to push around.

Action movie fans have always been a bit disappointed by the oblique ending, in which a helicopter lands in the narrow confines of Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of a violent payoff, Boorman gives us deep-dish symbolism. When he accomplishes his goal, Walker appears to cease to exist, to dematerialize. Perhaps he's finally become conscious of the contradiction of his own existence, like a Luis Borges character. The miracle is that Boorman's artsy approach works at all - Point Blank is a conceptual original.

Warners' DVD of Point Blank has a sharp enhanced transfer with almost no damage, carrying the careful color design intact from the big screen. The only odd shot is the special effects scene of a character falling from a skyscraper, which looks even more like a bad cut-out than it did in the theaters. The weird soundtrack is nicely turned out with the dialogue always easy to understand.

There are two contemporary featurettes, both called The Rock which cover the filming on Alcatraz. On short has an old-time convict returning to his one-time home. The film's arresting trailer is present as well. But best of all is a commentary with director Boorman accompanied by Steven Soderbergh, who did a similar crime movie a few years back called The Limey. The younger director brings out the very best in Boorman as they talk about the picture's ambiguous elements; it's almost as good as Soderbergh's commentary with Mike Nichols on Catch-22.



For more information about Point Blank, visit Warner Video. To order Point Blank, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Point Blank

Point Blank was made long after the official end of the noir era but exhibits several of its classic themes. Referred to as the movie about a Hit Man with a serious case of Antonioni-itis, it cleaned up in 1967 alongside Warners' other popular bloodbath, Bonnie & Clyde. It continued to play in frequent Los Angeles revivals and midnight shows for five or six years, where one could always detect a certain tobacco-like aroma ... the film's hazy LA dreamscape was perfect head-trip material. Synopsis: Fun-loving Walker (Lee Marvin) is shot and left for dead during a robbery by his wife Lynne (Sharon Acker) and his best friend Mal Reese (John Vernon). A year later, he turns up alive and well, guided by a man named Yost (Keenan Wynn) on a quest into the criminal underworld. Walker is after the 93 thousand dollars he's owed, and Yost wants a bunch of syndicate middlemen eliminated. Walker locates Lynne but eventually uses her sister Chris (Angie Dickinson) to track down Mal, Big John Stegman (Michael Strong), Fred Carter (Lloyd Bochner) and eventually the top man Brewster (Carrol O'Connor). Chris accuses Walker of being a monomaniacal zombie. The way he behaves, he indeed may be some kind of a ghost. The key image in Point Blank is massive Lee Marvin striding down the old LAX corridors like a robot on overdrive. This is inter-cut jarringly with intimate shots of Sharon Acker putting on her makeup, creating an indelible visual contrast. This essential LA gangster film was made by a UK director whose only previous feature was a musical about the Dave Clark Five. Yet he has a natural understanding of hardboiled intrigue and powerhouse action scenes. The most dynamic moments are frequently repeated in flashbacks, sometimes even in slow motion. Marvin's Walker crashes through a doorway to strong-arm his ex-wife and shoot big black holes in her empty bed: It plays like a ballet yet is one of the more violent actions in any movie of the 1960s. Surely Sam Peckinpah was watching... Point Blank is a simple revenge and payback story boiled down to its existential essence, and then pumped up with a visual treatment that resembles the work of Alain Resnais. It's interesting that just five or six years after something Last Year at Marienbad, ordinary American audiences would have no trouble following the time-fractured exploits of a (possibly) ghostly hit man. The moment of Walker's shooting in Alcatraz is repeated at least five times, and scene after scene unfolds in a weird limbo that co-exists with everyday Los Angeles reality (something LA residents have always understood). Jump cuts leap ahead in time exactly as would Kubrick's 2001 the next year. Rationally speaking, the story makes no sense, as Walker is twice shot point-blank in an Alcatraz cell. He then hobbles painfully into the currents of San Francisco Bay that routinely sweep even strong swimmers out to sea. But our Walker unaccountably turns up a year later with a variable wardrobe of undefined origin, to make short work of one mob functionary after another. After a classic crash-'em car ride with John Stegman, Walker works his way upward through the mob hierarchy, a faceless corporation of ruthless executives who carry no money but wield excessive power. There's great fun to be had watching Walker decimate their best killers. He suckers Lloyd Bochner's Carter, an unlikable bully, into stepping into his own death trap. Point Blank flirts with nudity as regards Angie Dickinson, who helps Walker but is frustrated by his lack of feeling. The second best image in the show is the sight of Dickinson losing her composure and hitting, slapping and slugging Marvin as hard as she can. He stands like an immovable rock until she collapses in exhaustion. It's an abstract illustration of relationship problems that would be worthy of Jacques Tati, if he made violent movies. Boorman frames a steady stream of bizarre visuals through Philip Lathrop's wide-angled Panavision lens. Perfumes and unguents mix in the bottom of a bathtub, another prophetic image from 2001. Images are diffracted through gratings and a disco nightclub uses a psychedelic light show as a wild setting for a brutal fistfight. The only visual cliché is one mannered shot of characters posed 'just so' in a shattered mirror. Marvin is a Golem with a magnum pistol, gray-haired and wearing a constant mask-like expression. John Vernon is a standout as the treacherous mobster, begging Walker to help him in a roomful of loud men. Carroll O'Connor and Keenan Wynn are also excellent as the top dogs that Walker can't seem to push around. Action movie fans have always been a bit disappointed by the oblique ending, in which a helicopter lands in the narrow confines of Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of a violent payoff, Boorman gives us deep-dish symbolism. When he accomplishes his goal, Walker appears to cease to exist, to dematerialize. Perhaps he's finally become conscious of the contradiction of his own existence, like a Luis Borges character. The miracle is that Boorman's artsy approach works at all - Point Blank is a conceptual original. Warners' DVD of Point Blank has a sharp enhanced transfer with almost no damage, carrying the careful color design intact from the big screen. The only odd shot is the special effects scene of a character falling from a skyscraper, which looks even more like a bad cut-out than it did in the theaters. The weird soundtrack is nicely turned out with the dialogue always easy to understand. There are two contemporary featurettes, both called The Rock which cover the filming on Alcatraz. On short has an old-time convict returning to his one-time home. The film's arresting trailer is present as well. But best of all is a commentary with director Boorman accompanied by Steven Soderbergh, who did a similar crime movie a few years back called The Limey. The younger director brings out the very best in Boorman as they talk about the picture's ambiguous elements; it's almost as good as Soderbergh's commentary with Mike Nichols on Catch-22. For more information about Point Blank, visit Warner Video. To order Point Blank, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor


Carroll O'Connor - who died June 21st at the age of 76 - will be best remembered for portraying Archie Bunker on TV's All in the Family but his career actually was much more extensive. Born in New York on August 2nd, 1924, O'Connor served in the merchant marine during World War II before attending the University of Montana where he worked on the school newspaper. Before graduating, he followed his brother to another college in Ireland (he would later get a Masters in speech from Montana). It was in Ireland that O'Connor started acting in several local productions. He returned to the U.S. for his Broadway debut in 1958 and shortly after started to appear on numerous TV shows like The Untouchables and Naked City. His first film was Parrish (1961) though he eventually acted in over a dozen films during the Sixties including Cleopatra (1963), Marlowe (1969), Hawaii (1966) and Point Blank (1967). O'Connor even auditioned for the part of the Skipper in the TV series, Gilligan's Island, but it was his role as Archie Bunker in a 1971 sitcom that made him a star. All in the Family was an American version of the British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part that met some initial resistance (ABC rejected the first two pilots) but quickly captivated American audiences and became the country's top-rated TV show. Archie became such an icon that his chair is now preserved in the Smithsonian. The series lasted until 1979 and brought O'Connor four Emmys, even leading to a four-year spinoff Archie Bunker's Place starring O'Connor. (It also produced one of TV's oddest spinoffs in1994's 704 Hauser about a multi-racial family living in Archie Bunker's old house. It had no cast members from the earlier series and only lasted six episodes.) In 1988, O'Connor took the role of a Southern sheriff in a TV series based on the movie In the Heat of the Night and found himself in another hit, this one lasting until 1995. He also occasionally played Helen Hunt's father on Mad About You. By all accounts, O'Connor was nothing like Archie Bunker; in fact, O'Connor was an active anti-drug crusader, partly the result of his son's drug-related suicide.

By Lang Thompson

TCM REMEMBERS JACK LEMMON 1925-2001

Whether playing a cross-dressing jazz bassist or a bickering roommate, Lemmon has kept his fans in stitches for fifty years. But beneath that comedian's facade, the actor had a very serious side, which occasionally surfaced in such films as Days of Wine and Roses (1962) or Costa-Gavras' political thriller Missing (1982). Lemmon was truly a one-of-a-kind actor and his track record for acclaimed performances is truly remarkable: 8 Oscar nominations (he won Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955) and Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973), a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, 8 British Academy Award nominations, 4 Emmy Award nominations, numerous Golden Globe nominations, a two-time Best Actor winner at the Cannes Film Festival, the list goes on and on.

Lemmon entered the world in a completely novel fashion; he was born prematurely in an elevator in Boston in 1925. The son of a doughnut manufacturer, Lemmon later attended Harvard University but was bitten by the acting bug and left the prestigious college for Broadway. Between theatrical gigs, he played piano accompaniment to silent films shown at the Knickerbocker Music Hall in New York. Later, Lemmon claimed that he learned more about comic technique by watching these Chaplin, Keaton and Harold Lloyd two-reelers than acting school could have ever taught him.

From Broadway and early TV appearances to Hollywood, Lemmon moved West to make his screen debut in It Should Happen to You (1954), opposite Judy Holliday in a variation of her 'dumb blonde' persona that had won her an Oscar for Born Yesterday (1952). In It Should Happen to You, Holliday plays a struggling actress who soon wins fast fame as the product of promotion. Lemmon plays her levelheaded boyfriend but finds himself on the sidelines when the suave and sophisticated Peter Lawford appears on the scene. It Should Happen to You, directed by George Cukor, was a popular success and Lemmon and Holliday were quickly teamed again in Phffft! (1954), another lightweight romantic comedy. A year later, Lemmon hit the major leagues when he supported Hollywood heavyweights Henry Fonda, James Cagney and William Powell in Mister Roberts (1955). As Ensign Pulver, a deckhand who avoids work whenever possible, Lemmon won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar®.

Onscreen, Lemmon's characters often found that they were the wrong men for their jobs. In Cowboy (1958), Lemmon plays a city slicker venturing out on the wild frontier. His romantic visions of the West are soon changed by the hard-living, hard-drinking reality. Cowboy is based on the autobiography of Frank Harris, and, like the author, Lemmon found himself adapting to the rough and tumble lifestyle on the trail.

Lemmon brought a new comic persona to Hollywood films. He combined elements of screwball and slapstick comedy with his own self-deprecating humor to create satiric portraits of the contemporary American male. The sometimes cynical comic sense of director Billy Wilder provided Lemmon with the perfect complement. Together they made seven films, but it was their first, Some Like It Hot (1959), that captured the sheer comic genius of their collaborations together.

From sexual antics to social critique, Lemmon and Wilder sharpened their comic knives on the hypocrisies they saw in American culture. The Apartment (1960) focused on a working stiff who lends his home to his supervisors for their extramarital affairs. Problems arise when Lemmon falls for his boss's paramour - it gets even more complicated when she tries to kill herself in his pad! Though The Apartment was a comic success, with each passing year the film's serious side seems even more dark and derisive. Illicit love and the corruption of big business might not seem to be the stuff of hit comedies, but Wilder and Lemmon found humor in the most unlikeliest of places. Director and comic star went on to make five more films: Irma la Douce (1963), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Avanti! (1972), The Front Page (1974) and Buddy Buddy (1981).

Billy Wilder and Lemmon's lifelong comic foil Walter Matthau (nine collaborations with Lemmon in 32 years, including their most popular film, The Odd Couple, 1968) brought some of the comedian's finest funny moments to the screen. But there was a serious side too. Lemmon waived his salary to act in Save the Tiger (1973), the 'great American tragedy' of a businessman at the end of his rope. Lemmon won his second Academy Award for the film. In Missing (1982), directed by the uncompromising Costa-Gavras, Lemmon played a patriotic father searching for his kidnapped son in Latin America. The closer he gets to his goal, the clearer it becomes that a government conspiracy is behind his son's disappearance. Missing was inspired by a true story - the production was condemned by the Reagan administration and awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival.

Very few actors today can match Lemmon's range on the screen. He has acted in everything from lightweight sex farces (How to Murder Your Wife, 1965) to musicals (My Sister Eileen, 1955) to social dramas (Days of Wine and Roses, 1962) to political thrillers (The China Syndrome, 1979). Turner Classic Movies cherishes the memory of this remarkable talent.

By Cino Niles & Jeff Stafford

ANTHONY QUINN, 1915-2001

Not many actors can boast that they've inspired a Bob Dylan song but Anthony Quinn - who passed away June 3rd at the age of 86 - was one of the select few. But that's just one of many incidents in a life that can only be described as colorful. If a novelist had invented a character like Quinn, she would be accused of unbelievable invention. But in Quinn's case, it's all true.

Quinn was born April 21, 1915 in Mexico. His parents were involved in Pancho Villa's revolutionary struggle and must have made a striking couple since the father was half Irish and mother Mexican Indian. The couple were married on a train of rebel soldiers. After Quinn's birth, the family soon moved to East Los Angeles (after a quick Texas detour) where Quinn grew up in the shadow of Hollywood. (A branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library now occupies the site of Quinn's childhood home; in 1981 it was renamed in his honor.) At the age of 11 he won a sculpture award and shortly after began studying architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright in fact who suggested the possibility of acting to Quinn and even paid for an operation to cure a speech impediment. Along the way, Quinn also dabbled in professional boxing (he quit after his 17th match, the first he lost) and street-corner preaching. He continued to sculpt and paint for the rest of his life while also becoming a noted art collector.

Quinn's acting debut was in 1936 initially in a handful of barely noticable spots as an extra until he landed a speaking role in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman, supposedly on the recommendation of the film's star, Gary Cooper. One unanticipated result was that Quinn married DeMille's daughter the following year; they appeared together in Phil Karlson's Black Gold (1947) and had five children. Quinn also appeared on stage in 1936 playing opposite Mae West. Quinn continued in film parts that gathered acclaim: Crazy Horse in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), a gambler in The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), a soldier in Guadalcanal Diary (1943).

But it was the 1950s when Quinn broke out. Viva Zapata!(1952) provided him a wonderful role which he used to win a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Oddly enough, in Viva Zapata! Quinn worked with Marlon Brando who he had replaced in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. (Director Elia Kazan tried to start a rivalry between the two actors but they were great admirers of each other.) Quinn again won Best Supporting Actor playing painter Paul Gauguin Lust for Life (1956) which at the time was the shortest on-screen time to win an acting Oscar. The following year came was a Best Actor nomination for George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind (1957). As he did throughout his career, Quinn rarely hesitated to take work whereever he found it, which resulted in dozens of potboilers like Seven Cities of Gold (1955) but also a few cult favorites like Budd Boetticher's The Magnificent Matador (1955). It was a trip to Italy that brought Quinn one of his most acclaimed roles: a simple-minded circus strongman in Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954). Quinn directed his only film in 1958, The Buccaneer, a commercial failure he later attributed to producer Cecil DeMille's interference. Towards the end of that decade he appeared in Nicholas Ray's The Savage Innocents (1959) as an Eskimo, inspiring Bob Dylan to write "Quinn the Eskimo" (a Top Ten hit for Manfred Mann in 1968). In 1965, his relationship with an Italian costumer created a minor scandal when it was revealed that the couple had two children. Quinn divorced DeMille's daughter and married the costumer.

He continued the same mix of classics and best-forgotten quickies throughout the 1960s and '70s. A key role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) only confirmed his talents while he again earned a Best Actor nomination for the unforgettable lead role in Zorba the Greek (1964). The gritty crime drama Across 110th Street (1972) is one of the best American movies of its decade, enhanced by Quinn's turn as an embattled police captain. Quinn was a pope in The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), an Islamic leader in The Message (1976), a thinly disguised Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978) and an assortment of gangsters, con men, military leaders and what have you. The rest of his career might be summed up by the year 1991 when he gathered critical acclaim for his appearance in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, was nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor in Mobsters, co-starred with Bo Derek in Ghosts Can't Do It, worked beside John Candy and Macaulay Culkin in Chris Columbus' Only the Lonely and made a film so obscure it appears to have never appeared on video. Quinn married his third wife in 1997; they had one son. He had just completed the title role in Avenging Angelo (with Sylvester Stallone) at the time of his death.

By Lang Thompson

TCM Remembers - Carroll O'Connor

Carroll O'Connor - who died June 21st at the age of 76 - will be best remembered for portraying Archie Bunker on TV's All in the Family but his career actually was much more extensive. Born in New York on August 2nd, 1924, O'Connor served in the merchant marine during World War II before attending the University of Montana where he worked on the school newspaper. Before graduating, he followed his brother to another college in Ireland (he would later get a Masters in speech from Montana). It was in Ireland that O'Connor started acting in several local productions. He returned to the U.S. for his Broadway debut in 1958 and shortly after started to appear on numerous TV shows like The Untouchables and Naked City. His first film was Parrish (1961) though he eventually acted in over a dozen films during the Sixties including Cleopatra (1963), Marlowe (1969), Hawaii (1966) and Point Blank (1967). O'Connor even auditioned for the part of the Skipper in the TV series, Gilligan's Island, but it was his role as Archie Bunker in a 1971 sitcom that made him a star. All in the Family was an American version of the British sitcom Till Death Do Us Part that met some initial resistance (ABC rejected the first two pilots) but quickly captivated American audiences and became the country's top-rated TV show. Archie became such an icon that his chair is now preserved in the Smithsonian. The series lasted until 1979 and brought O'Connor four Emmys, even leading to a four-year spinoff Archie Bunker's Place starring O'Connor. (It also produced one of TV's oddest spinoffs in1994's 704 Hauser about a multi-racial family living in Archie Bunker's old house. It had no cast members from the earlier series and only lasted six episodes.) In 1988, O'Connor took the role of a Southern sheriff in a TV series based on the movie In the Heat of the Night and found himself in another hit, this one lasting until 1995. He also occasionally played Helen Hunt's father on Mad About You. By all accounts, O'Connor was nothing like Archie Bunker; in fact, O'Connor was an active anti-drug crusader, partly the result of his son's drug-related suicide. By Lang Thompson TCM REMEMBERS JACK LEMMON 1925-2001 Whether playing a cross-dressing jazz bassist or a bickering roommate, Lemmon has kept his fans in stitches for fifty years. But beneath that comedian's facade, the actor had a very serious side, which occasionally surfaced in such films as Days of Wine and Roses (1962) or Costa-Gavras' political thriller Missing (1982). Lemmon was truly a one-of-a-kind actor and his track record for acclaimed performances is truly remarkable: 8 Oscar nominations (he won Best Supporting Actor for Mister Roberts (1955) and Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973), a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, 8 British Academy Award nominations, 4 Emmy Award nominations, numerous Golden Globe nominations, a two-time Best Actor winner at the Cannes Film Festival, the list goes on and on. Lemmon entered the world in a completely novel fashion; he was born prematurely in an elevator in Boston in 1925. The son of a doughnut manufacturer, Lemmon later attended Harvard University but was bitten by the acting bug and left the prestigious college for Broadway. Between theatrical gigs, he played piano accompaniment to silent films shown at the Knickerbocker Music Hall in New York. Later, Lemmon claimed that he learned more about comic technique by watching these Chaplin, Keaton and Harold Lloyd two-reelers than acting school could have ever taught him. From Broadway and early TV appearances to Hollywood, Lemmon moved West to make his screen debut in It Should Happen to You (1954), opposite Judy Holliday in a variation of her 'dumb blonde' persona that had won her an Oscar for Born Yesterday (1952). In It Should Happen to You, Holliday plays a struggling actress who soon wins fast fame as the product of promotion. Lemmon plays her levelheaded boyfriend but finds himself on the sidelines when the suave and sophisticated Peter Lawford appears on the scene. It Should Happen to You, directed by George Cukor, was a popular success and Lemmon and Holliday were quickly teamed again in Phffft! (1954), another lightweight romantic comedy. A year later, Lemmon hit the major leagues when he supported Hollywood heavyweights Henry Fonda, James Cagney and William Powell in Mister Roberts (1955). As Ensign Pulver, a deckhand who avoids work whenever possible, Lemmon won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar®. Onscreen, Lemmon's characters often found that they were the wrong men for their jobs. In Cowboy (1958), Lemmon plays a city slicker venturing out on the wild frontier. His romantic visions of the West are soon changed by the hard-living, hard-drinking reality. Cowboy is based on the autobiography of Frank Harris, and, like the author, Lemmon found himself adapting to the rough and tumble lifestyle on the trail. Lemmon brought a new comic persona to Hollywood films. He combined elements of screwball and slapstick comedy with his own self-deprecating humor to create satiric portraits of the contemporary American male. The sometimes cynical comic sense of director Billy Wilder provided Lemmon with the perfect complement. Together they made seven films, but it was their first, Some Like It Hot (1959), that captured the sheer comic genius of their collaborations together. From sexual antics to social critique, Lemmon and Wilder sharpened their comic knives on the hypocrisies they saw in American culture. The Apartment (1960) focused on a working stiff who lends his home to his supervisors for their extramarital affairs. Problems arise when Lemmon falls for his boss's paramour - it gets even more complicated when she tries to kill herself in his pad! Though The Apartment was a comic success, with each passing year the film's serious side seems even more dark and derisive. Illicit love and the corruption of big business might not seem to be the stuff of hit comedies, but Wilder and Lemmon found humor in the most unlikeliest of places. Director and comic star went on to make five more films: Irma la Douce (1963), The Fortune Cookie (1966), Avanti! (1972), The Front Page (1974) and Buddy Buddy (1981). Billy Wilder and Lemmon's lifelong comic foil Walter Matthau (nine collaborations with Lemmon in 32 years, including their most popular film, The Odd Couple, 1968) brought some of the comedian's finest funny moments to the screen. But there was a serious side too. Lemmon waived his salary to act in Save the Tiger (1973), the 'great American tragedy' of a businessman at the end of his rope. Lemmon won his second Academy Award for the film. In Missing (1982), directed by the uncompromising Costa-Gavras, Lemmon played a patriotic father searching for his kidnapped son in Latin America. The closer he gets to his goal, the clearer it becomes that a government conspiracy is behind his son's disappearance. Missing was inspired by a true story - the production was condemned by the Reagan administration and awarded the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival. Very few actors today can match Lemmon's range on the screen. He has acted in everything from lightweight sex farces (How to Murder Your Wife, 1965) to musicals (My Sister Eileen, 1955) to social dramas (Days of Wine and Roses, 1962) to political thrillers (The China Syndrome, 1979). Turner Classic Movies cherishes the memory of this remarkable talent. By Cino Niles & Jeff Stafford ANTHONY QUINN, 1915-2001 Not many actors can boast that they've inspired a Bob Dylan song but Anthony Quinn - who passed away June 3rd at the age of 86 - was one of the select few. But that's just one of many incidents in a life that can only be described as colorful. If a novelist had invented a character like Quinn, she would be accused of unbelievable invention. But in Quinn's case, it's all true. Quinn was born April 21, 1915 in Mexico. His parents were involved in Pancho Villa's revolutionary struggle and must have made a striking couple since the father was half Irish and mother Mexican Indian. The couple were married on a train of rebel soldiers. After Quinn's birth, the family soon moved to East Los Angeles (after a quick Texas detour) where Quinn grew up in the shadow of Hollywood. (A branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library now occupies the site of Quinn's childhood home; in 1981 it was renamed in his honor.) At the age of 11 he won a sculpture award and shortly after began studying architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. It was Wright in fact who suggested the possibility of acting to Quinn and even paid for an operation to cure a speech impediment. Along the way, Quinn also dabbled in professional boxing (he quit after his 17th match, the first he lost) and street-corner preaching. He continued to sculpt and paint for the rest of his life while also becoming a noted art collector. Quinn's acting debut was in 1936 initially in a handful of barely noticable spots as an extra until he landed a speaking role in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman, supposedly on the recommendation of the film's star, Gary Cooper. One unanticipated result was that Quinn married DeMille's daughter the following year; they appeared together in Phil Karlson's Black Gold (1947) and had five children. Quinn also appeared on stage in 1936 playing opposite Mae West. Quinn continued in film parts that gathered acclaim: Crazy Horse in They Died With Their Boots On (1941), a gambler in The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), a soldier in Guadalcanal Diary (1943). But it was the 1950s when Quinn broke out. Viva Zapata!(1952) provided him a wonderful role which he used to win a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Oddly enough, in Viva Zapata! Quinn worked with Marlon Brando who he had replaced in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire. (Director Elia Kazan tried to start a rivalry between the two actors but they were great admirers of each other.) Quinn again won Best Supporting Actor playing painter Paul Gauguin Lust for Life (1956) which at the time was the shortest on-screen time to win an acting Oscar. The following year came was a Best Actor nomination for George Cukor's Wild Is the Wind (1957). As he did throughout his career, Quinn rarely hesitated to take work whereever he found it, which resulted in dozens of potboilers like Seven Cities of Gold (1955) but also a few cult favorites like Budd Boetticher's The Magnificent Matador (1955). It was a trip to Italy that brought Quinn one of his most acclaimed roles: a simple-minded circus strongman in Federico Fellini's La Strada (1954). Quinn directed his only film in 1958, The Buccaneer, a commercial failure he later attributed to producer Cecil DeMille's interference. Towards the end of that decade he appeared in Nicholas Ray's The Savage Innocents (1959) as an Eskimo, inspiring Bob Dylan to write "Quinn the Eskimo" (a Top Ten hit for Manfred Mann in 1968). In 1965, his relationship with an Italian costumer created a minor scandal when it was revealed that the couple had two children. Quinn divorced DeMille's daughter and married the costumer. He continued the same mix of classics and best-forgotten quickies throughout the 1960s and '70s. A key role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) only confirmed his talents while he again earned a Best Actor nomination for the unforgettable lead role in Zorba the Greek (1964). The gritty crime drama Across 110th Street (1972) is one of the best American movies of its decade, enhanced by Quinn's turn as an embattled police captain. Quinn was a pope in The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968), an Islamic leader in The Message (1976), a thinly disguised Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978) and an assortment of gangsters, con men, military leaders and what have you. The rest of his career might be summed up by the year 1991 when he gathered critical acclaim for his appearance in Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, was nominated for a Razzie as Worst Actor in Mobsters, co-starred with Bo Derek in Ghosts Can't Do It, worked beside John Candy and Macaulay Culkin in Chris Columbus' Only the Lonely and made a film so obscure it appears to have never appeared on video. Quinn married his third wife in 1997; they had one son. He had just completed the title role in Avenging Angelo (with Sylvester Stallone) at the time of his death. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

During a rehearsal taking place in the home of Lee Marvin, he hit 'Vernon, John' so hard that Vernon began to cry.

Notes

Location scenes filmed at Alcatraz Prison and in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Point Blank marked the first collaboration between producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, who went on to form Chartoff-Winkler Productions, Inc. in 1971 and enjoyed a decades-long working relationship. Some of their films included They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, (1970, ), Rocky (1976) and Raging Bull (1980).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1996

Released in United States 1998

Released in United States August 1997

Released in United States on Video December 6, 1988

Released in United States September 18, 1967

Released in United States Winter December 18, 1967

Shown at Locarno International Film Festival (50 Years of American Film) August 6-16, 1997.

Shown at New York Film Festival (Restrospective) September 25 - October 11, 1998.

Director Boorman's first American film.

Completed shooting April 27, 1967.

Released in United States 1996 (Shown in Los Angeles (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex) as part of program "Femmes Fatales Follow Them at Your Own Risk!" October 5 - December 15, 1996.)

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at New York Film Festival (Restrospective) September 25 - October 11, 1998.)

Released in United States August 1997 (Shown at Locarno International Film Festival (50 Years of American Film) August 6-16, 1997.)

Released in United States September 18, 1967

Released in United States Winter December 18, 1967

Released in United States on Video December 6, 1988