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Point Blank(1967)

Film noir and the French New Wave come together effortlessly in this influential thriller. MGM had acquired the rights to Donald E. Westlake’s novel The Hunter and the studio wanted Lee Marvin to star. Marvin agreed on the condition that they hire English director John Boorman, who had only made one other feature. Boorman was then given complete artistic control. He turned the story of a gangster out for revenge on the partner who betrayed him into a dazzling exercise in style. Inspired by directors like Alain Resnais and Jean-Luc Godard, he used a fragmented timeline, slow motion sequences, distorted sounds and other tricks to give the film a dreamlike feeling while shooting on stark locations around San Francisco and Los Angeles. The outcome is a fascinating confrontation between an old-school gangster (Marvin) and a new, dehumanized approach to crime as big business. Marvin’s performance is as stylized as the film. He rarely changes expression while moving with the precision of a great dancer. He’s more than matched by Angie Dickinson as the sister-in-law who helps him and provides all the emotion his character seems to lack. Although only a modest success during its initial release, the picture is now regarded as a classic thriller. (d. John Boorman, 92m, 35mm)

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