POINT BLANK REMAKE? NOT EVEN CLOSE!

“POINT BLANK REMAKE” blared the headline in Variety.    Of course, my initial reaction to the headline itself was one of mixed emotions. While glad to see attention was being paid to Lee Marvin’s neo-noir classic — which could enliven his work to a wider audience — I bemoaned the lack of originality constantly being shown by Hollywood bigwigs. After all, Even Point Blank itself, was not the first version of Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake) mysterious character….

Liner notes from the POINT BLANK soundtrack CD describes the films genesis, as well as a graph of its many incarnations.  The only one missing since the CD’s release is Taylor Hackford’s PARKER (2013), starring Jason Statham.

Then I actually read the article. Never heard of a 2010 version of the same title with a completely different premise. Never heard of Fred Cavaye. Never even heard of Frank Grillo. How in god’s name did they get away with naming a non-related film Point Blank...and then make an announcement to remake it? Bizarre!
By the way, readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are well aware of Lee Marvin’s complete immersion in the John Boorman original, as well as the films evolution to the screen and its current well-earned cult status. Those who haven’t read it are in for an eye-opener!

Original ad art for two of several versions of Richard Stark’s original tale that would make a great double feature.

About the only positive thing I can possibly take away from the Variety article is the prominence of Anthony Mackie in the project. Unlike Frank Grillo, I am quite familiar with Mackie’s film work, having been impressed with him in both Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2005), and even more so in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker (2008). As Sergeant JT Sanborn, Mackie is a standout in the now classic film in which he draws an interminably long bead on an enemy Iraqi soldier…

Actor Anthony Mackie drawing a bead on the enemy in Kathryn Bigelow’s THE HURT LOCKER.

That point may seem off topic, but in truth it is definitely worthy of a mention in a Lee Marvin-themed blog. No one can really tell for sure but it’s a pretty safe bet Lee Marvin himself would have been impressed with both Mackie’s performance and the film itself. It’s dealing with the current veteran’s trauma of PTSD and Bigelow’s unflinching detail of it would definitely be in Marvin’s wheelhouse.
With such films possible, why a Point Blank remake….that isn’t even a Point Blank remake? Boggles the mind. Better yet, how about a biopic on the man who put Point Blank on the map…and endured a lifetime of grappling with PTSD? Just a thought.
– Dwayne Epstein

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AQUAMAN’S JASON MOMOA TALKS LEE MARVIN

Aquaman’s Jason Momoa has hit the big time with the success of the film’s holiday release. Globally, it’s made over $750 million, giving the Marvel franchises a definite run for their money. Fine by me as I grew up a D.C. fan and argued constantly with my Marvel-loving buddies.

AQUAMAN’s Jason Momoa in full regalia.

To help promote the film, Momoa naturally did a lot of press and in so doing, I came across this little nugget from an interview he gave the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“I spent a lot of time watching old westerns with my mom. I was raised by a single mother, and I was lucky she had a love of old cinema, and classic cinema. I loved watching Brando, and I was particularly a huge fan of Lee Marvin,” said Momoa.
He remembers being enthralled by Emperor of the North, and he admired Marvin’s unaffected grit and toughness, attributes he’s sought to emulate during his career, which led him to enter the DC universe as Aquaman,..”

The muscle bound, six-foot-four Momoa is not alone in his appreciation of Lee Marvin. The more diminutive Sam Rockwell is apparently also a fan. In promoting the film Vice, in which he plays President George W. Bush, he recently told Rotten Tomatoes about his personal five favorite films, one being The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:

Oscar winner Sam Rockwell.

“That movie blew me away. I think my dad made me see that and I remember Lee Marvin in that; Lee Van Cleef and Strother Martin are sort of the sidekicks. Woody Strode, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart. Just an incredible cast, I mean… It was just a surprise kind of western. There’s this scene where he gets his heartbroken — John Wayne gets kind of vulnerable in the bar. He loses the lady. That’s a great scene.”

Good to see a new generation of film actors showing their appreciation for Lee Marvin. In case you don’t know what it is they’re so enamored with, there’s only one way to find out: Start the new year by reading Lee Marvin Point Blank.   You won’t be disappointed.
Happy new year!
– Dwayne Epstein

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NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY PICKS ANOTHER LEE MARVIN FILM

The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress recently announced its latest list of inductees into its prestigious pantheon of preservation. Its purpose, as stated on its website is that, “The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.” Among the 25 worthy picks for 2018 is Bad Day at Black Rock, making it the fourth Lee Marvin film to be so honored since the Registry’s inception in 1989. Previously preserved classics include The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (2007), The Big Heat (2011) and Point Blank (2016). The Registry’s reasoning for including Bad Day at Back Rock is quoted below:

 

The mostly male cast of BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK: (L-R) Dean Jagger, Walter Sande, Lee, Walter Brennan, Russell Collins, Robert Ryan and Spencer Tracy), as chosen by the National Film Registry for preservation.

Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
“Though only 81 minutes in length, “Bad Day” packs a punch. Spencer Tracy stars as Macreedy, a one-armed man who arrives unexpectedly one day at the sleepy desert town of Black Rock. He is just as tight-lipped at first about the reason for his visit as the residents of Black Rock are about the details of their town. However, when Macreedy announces that he is looking for a former Japanese-American Black Rock resident named Komoko, town skeletons suddenly burst into the open. In addition to Tracy, the standout cast includes Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Dean Jagger. Director John Sturges displays the western landscape to great advantage in this CinemaScope production.”

Clearly a worthy choice but the future remains unknown. Personally, I’d like to see the inclusion of the likes of The Dirty Dozen, The Professionals, Monte Walsh and The Big Red One, among others. Why? Well, one need only read Lee Marvin Point Blank to figure that out and discover the amazing stories, critical response and lasting legacy of Lee Marvin and his phenomenal career.
Until then, happy holidays!

-Dwayne Epstein

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