Lee Marvin possessed a scowl that could cut steel. And nowhere in his career did that lethal stink eye get a harder workout than in Point Blank (1967, 1 hr., 32 mins., NR), John Boorman’s impossibly artistic riff on the gangster genre, out now on Blu-ray in all its moody Panavision glory. Shot full of lead and left for dead before the opening credits, Walker (Marvin) broods through Los Angeles seeking revenge against a crime syndicate. Though the plot is boilerplate, the film’s nonlinear, dreamlike style — all time lapses, flashbacks, and surreal color motifs — is intoxicating. Thugs die, but Walker never actually kills anybody himself, which gives credence to the idea that he’s not real but a sort of avenging angel. It’s an existential wrinkle that makes the movie ideal for repeat viewings.
The commentary track included on the EXTRAS is recycled from a 2005 DVD release, but it’s almost as indelible as the film: an anecdote-rich symposium between Boorman and fellow game changer Steven Soderbergh, whose great noir The Limey inherited Point Blank‘s DNA. They chat about Marvin’s egoless generosity (the star ceded his final cut to the then-novice director) and how much anxiety that caused MGM brass (”They sent for a psychiatrist when they saw these rushes”). When Boorman makes the gentlemanly observation ”This is a scene, incidentally, which has been often copied,” Soderbergh replies, ”Um, I’m one of the people who copied it.” If only more filmmakers were prone to such inspired kleptomania. A