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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Point Blank (RECOMMENDED).



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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted June 22 2005 - 04:27 PM

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Point Blank





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1967
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 92 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD Mono
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English & French
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $19.97
Package: Single disc in a Keepcase





The Feature:
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Expressed boldly through a series of sharply edited staccato-like flashbacks, Point Blank reaches beyond its genre with inspiring visuals, yet centering around a rather simplistic storyline. Right off the bat, Point Blank makes no attempt to conceal the extreme violence as Walker (played by Lee Marvin) is shot and left for dead in an abandoned prison cell on Alcatraz. Walker drifts back into the past musing on the circumstances which left him there, all of them centering on his old friend Mal Reese (played by John Vernon). Flashbacks allow us to view the cash drop heist on Alcatraz island that went bad. Walker was willing to help his old friend, Mal pay off some debts but was double crossed, not only with the heist itself and being left for dead, but to add insult to injury, Mal takes off with Walker's wife, Lynne (played by Sharon Acker) as well.

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After Walker recovers, he is aboard a tourist boat trip to the closed prison, Alcatraz where he is propositioned by an enigmatic fellow known as Yost (played by Keenan Wynn). Yost claims he knows where Mal and Lynne are and is willing to reveal this to Walker, just as long as he receives some information on a crime syndicate known as "The Organization". Walker wants the money owed to him by Mal and he agrees, registering little emotion as he contemplates his forthcoming actions.

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Yost’s information takes Walker on a journey south to Los Angeles and surprises Lynne when he bursts through her front door and ventilates her bed emptying a cylinder of cartridges into her mattress. Walker is late however, as Mal departed months ago, discarding Lynne as easily as he attempted to dispose of Walker. The reappearance of her husband causes Lynne to describe in detail, the circumstances surrounding her actions with Mal. What happens next are a series of confrontations between Walker and various members of “The Organization” as he works his way up the ladder seeking retribution for those who benefited by Mal’s callous acts.

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Point Blank was based on “The Hunter”, a tough-as-nails 1962 novel by Richard Stark, and served as the basis for the vastly inferior – almost laughable 1999 remake Payback. When it was first released in 1967, John Boorman's Point Blank was largely ignored at the box office, and greeted with dismay, and dismissal, by many film critics of the time. Heavily influenced by the French New Wave and their reverence for the concept of the "pure image", Boorman's movie was strikingly visual, kinetically edited, and sexually charged. A stylized, yet complex tale of betrayal and revenge, the movie surprised its audience with its fractured time-line and disconcerting narrative rhythms. While the picture failed to capture the imagination of most moviegoers, it certainly caught the attention of other filmmakers, and over the years its influence, and its stature, has grown. Point Blank is a gritty neo-noir that certainly pays a respectable homage to film noir of the 40’s and 50’s.

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The Feature: 4/5
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Video:
Shown in its original AR of 2.35:1, this transfer looks great. Filmed in both northern California and southern California, much of the scenery and cinematography is gorgeous. Equally impressive is the actual use of this widescreen film as each frame is filled to capacity. The black levels were as dark as imaginable and the film had a great level of contrast which displayed a very nice sense of texture and dimension.

Though somewhat soft at times, the level of image detail was very impressive. There were several close-ups which would rival many recent releases. The color scheme of the movie is interesting - the chilly blues and grays of Acker's apartment, Angie Dickinson's buttercup yellow bathrobe, the startling red wall in Vernon's penthouse – all to great psychedelic effect. The colors are vibrant and nicely saturated. They looked absolutely gorgeous and beautifully warm. Skin tones also looked appropriate and accurate.

There were a few instances of light shimmer and light speckle but they were neither troublesome nor bothersome. Film dust and dirt was sporadic but never bothersome. Due to the numerous outdoor shots, edge enhancement would have been rife had it existed, thankfully it was virtually free of any enhancement. There were no other compression issues to speak of either.

This is a very pleasing transfer.

Video: 4/5
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Audio:
I really don’t have a lot to say regarding the audio track. The original DD Mono track is offered and is rather unremarkable. Dialogue is always clear and intelligible. There isn’t much here in terms of range although the track does show a better than mono-average sense of oomph during the many action and shootout sequences – and there’s plenty.

There was a slight hint of hiss that played throughout but it was very slight and never detracted. The soundtrack also plays a key role, often fading into absolute silence with only the aural clues of slight movements to break the peace, such as Marvin’s long walk down a corridor with each footstep pounding like a drum, adding to the already heightened level of tension. Johnny Mandel's inspired score is both tense and, when appropriate, heartrending.

Not a track to get excited over but it does deliver what is expected of it…!

Audio: 3.5/5
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Special Features:
[*] First up is a Commentary by John Boorman and Steven Soderbergh. Again, we’re graced with the presence of a director of a film that approaches 40 years – a privilege indeed. Obviously Mr. Soderbergh has a great deal of admiration for this film and candidly admits borrowing from it on many occasions. Mr. Boorman spends a great of time describing how the project came together. In terms of style, Steven takes the lead in an interview-like setting, asking various questions as Mr. Boorman obliges him with detailed responses. An interesting and worthwhile inclusion.
[*] The next two features are entitled The Rock Part 1 and The Rock Part 2. These are interesting documentaries dealing with the history of The Rock which includes former prisoners and a historical background on the infamous prison. Duration: 7:31 and 8:49 minutes respectively.
[*] Finally, the Theatrical Trailer is included which is in decent shape. Duration: 2:50 minutes.

Special Features: 4/5
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**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



Final Thoughts:
Point Blank is possibly one of the most stylized crime thrillers ever put to film. The acting, particularly Marvin as the tenacious and crazed pursuer who embodies the anti-hero, is outstanding as a human tripwire. With very few spoken lines throughout the film, Marvin clearly demonstrates that actions do speak louder than words. The performances of Angie Dickinson as his reluctant accomplice and John Vernon (in his first role) as his prey, are faultless. Point Blank is an important entry laying the groundwork for some of the finest and most excruciatingly violent American crime films ever made i.e. Taxi Driver, The Godfather and Pulp Fiction just to name a few.

July promises to be a great month for fans of classic crime films with the release of Point Blank and the upcoming Film Noir Collection Volume #2 (which will be covered in depth here soon), and I can assure you, these have all been worth the wait. Warner has done a terrific job with the presentation including an interesting complement of special features. For those seeking their monthly crime-drama DVD-fix, leave some room on your shelves – you’re going to need it…

Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)
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Recommended.




Release Date: July 5th, 2005
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 15 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted June 22 2005 - 06:47 PM

Thanks for the great review.

Always thought Lee Marvin was excellent.

Looking forward to watch this soon
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#3 of 15 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted June 22 2005 - 09:53 PM

Great stuff Herb; this is one of my most eagerly awaited titles this year.
So many films, so little time...
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#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted June 23 2005 - 01:56 AM

Oh, God, yes. I have waited five years for this moment. An amazing film. The transfer looks amazing and we have a Boorman-Soderbergh commentary (the Nichols-Soderbergh, Catch 22 commentary track is one of my favourites) to savour, too? Another diamond from Warner and another fine review from Mr Kane.

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   David_Blackwell

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Posted June 24 2005 - 03:36 PM

Love Point Blank! Lee Marvin was electric in this role in addition to the great direction. The walking scene at the beginning (with the footsteps) is one of the bast parts.

I do hope the 1999 remake see a proper SE one of these days to include the first version of it before Mel decided to rewrite and reshoot part of it.
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#6 of 15 OFFLINE   James@R

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Posted July 05 2005 - 09:16 AM

Did anyone pick this up today? I couldn't find a copy anywhere.

To make matters worse...

When I asked someone at Best Buy if they had gotten in "Point Blank...with Lee Marvin", he replied, "Is it a cd?"

#7 of 15 OFFLINE   Greg Morse

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Posted July 05 2005 - 01:58 PM

Quote:
I couldn't find a copy anywhere.


I tried Best Buy, Circuit City, Target and even a Walmart and B&N. No dice. Looks like it'll be Amazon for me.

#8 of 15 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 05 2005 - 02:04 PM

Did anyone pick this up today? I couldn't find a copy anywhere.

Etailers always have these type of titles and usually cheaper.

Watched the dvd today and I agree with Herb's review. I found the commentary fascinating even when both directors were talking shop and using director speak.









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#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Roger Rollins

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Posted July 05 2005 - 02:33 PM

I have to echo Herb's comments. A spectacular film, beautifully presented with care and respect. I first saw this movie in a Drive-In as a little kid, and revisited it many times since. It has never looked this good.

The commentary is the cherry on the sundae. Bravo to all involved!

#10 of 15 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted July 05 2005 - 04:36 PM

I just finished watching Point Blank. Pulverizing. A true lesson in Cinema by an unprolific, underappreciated auteur. Lee Marvin's performance here is probably his best; he is relentless, although you may want to note that Marvin never directly, intentionally kills anyone in the film, he is merely the Agent of Fortune. The actual plot of the film is familiar, what makes the film powerful and memorable is its style and attitude. This is surely down to the fact that consumate veteran crew mere involved: Henry Grace (legendary set decorator); Keogh Gleason (another superb set decorator); George W. Davis (prolific Hollywood art director); Albert Brenner (vastly experienced AD/production designer, who was just starting out back in the mid-60sa) and, of course, the great cinematographer, Philip Lathrop, whom, as you can see, has worked on some of the most visually interesting Hollywood movies of the last 40 years. All under the amazing, imaginative direction of the young Boorman, a landmark Hollywood crime thriller was born. It holds up brilliantly and Warner's transfer is gorgeous and the mono soundtrack sounds fat, punchy, with the spooky, subtle score by Johnny Mandel is well-presented.

I haven't listened to the commentary yet, but I have heard that it is just as good as the Soderbergh-Nichols track on Catch 22, so I am really looking forward to it. Part 2 of the featurette, The Rock is superb, beautifully shot, very philosophical and could stand on its own. With the fine cover-art, it is overall, a great package from Warner of one of my most favorite American films.


#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Edwin_M

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Posted July 06 2005 - 09:39 AM

I searched everywhere for this movie yesterday. I went to Best Buy, Circuit City, Target and Wal-Mart and none of them had it. I remembered a Borders that was a few miles away and decided to take a look there and was fortunate to find a copy. The employee had to go into the back to find it and she told me that it was the only they had in stock. It's a shame that one can never find an older catalog release with any ease nowadays meanwhile every store I went to had shelves full of "Hide and Seek". Posted Image

#12 of 15 OFFLINE   TimJS

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Posted July 06 2005 - 10:12 AM

My Best Buy BlueShirt sez that they aren't stocking it...generally means anywhere in the Best Buy empire...forever & ever.

Also appears that Borders are carrying just one copy, someone beat me to the copy they got in t my local.

Tim

#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted July 07 2005 - 01:40 AM

Quote:
My Best Buy BlueShirt sez that they aren't stocking it...generally means anywhere in the Best Buy empire...forever & ever.
For releases from the big studios, it usually is not "forever & ever". They generally show up three to six weeks after their release date if the on-line sales are up to snuff.

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#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted July 07 2005 - 10:30 AM

I have this pre-ordered as blind buy along with the film Noir Vol 2 set. I've always wanted to see this, so I can't wait for it to finally show up, if only DVDSOOn would get it out!

Great review, made me anticipate this even more!

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   richardWI

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Posted July 08 2005 - 05:57 AM

wow those caps look great!

didnt see it at my Best Buy either.. sigh. This happens every week now. Do they even want to make money anymore?

"My Best Buy BlueShirt sez.." LOL, is that like a Star Trek RedShirt?





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