The Noir File: Lee Marvin is a thief betrayed in ‘Point Blank’

By Michael Wilmington & Film Noir Blonde

The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir, sort of noir and pre-noir on cable TV. All movies below are from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).


Angie Dickinson and Lee Marvin star in “Point Blank.”

Point Blank” (1967, John Boorman). Thursday, Jan. 31, 2:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m.) “Point Blank,” with Lee Marvin as a thief betrayed and left for dead in Alcatraz, is, like “Chinatown,” one of the quintessential neo-noirs. Directed with sizzle and panache by John Boorman (“Deliverance”), the movie’s source is one of the super-tough Parker novels by Donald Westlake, with the main character’s name changed to “Walker.” (It’s changed back in the current, and disappointing, movie adaptation, “Parker,” starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez, directed by Taylor Hackford.)

When the unstoppable Walker, his face deadly and determined, takes off after his treacherous old associates (including John Vernon, Carroll O’Connor and Lloyd Bochner) with the help of a mysterious guide (Keenan Wynn), and a glamorous pal (Angie Dickinson), it’s a magnetic, terrifying sight.

“Point Blank” steeps you in its L. A. locale: a surprisingly beautiful sunlit vision circa 1967. With Boorman going all out, this classic movie plays like a grand collaboration among Don Siegel, Alain Resnais and Jean-Pierre Melville. As for Lee Marvin, he’s at the top of his game. So is Angie.

Tuesday, Jan. 29

7:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.): “The Man with the Golden Arm” (1955, Otto Preminger). With Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak.

3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “Anatomy of a Murder” (1955, Otto Preminger). With James Stewart and Lee Remick.

1:45 a.m. (10:45 p.m.): “Armored Car Robbery” (1950, Richard Fleischer). Fast, punchy heist thriller; with Charles McGraw as the tough cop on the trail of half a million. Also with William Talman (the brains) and Adele Jergens (the broad).

Wednesday, Jan. 30

Orson Welles

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “The Stranger” (1946, Orson Welles). Orson Welles is a post-war Nazi fugitive hiding in a small town, affianced to the lovely but gullible Loretta Young. Edward G. Robinson is the government man on his trail. That cast and this movie’s virtuosic staging and camerawork (by Russell Metty), would make it a gem for almost any other director. For Welles, it’s average, but gripping.

Saturday, Feb. 2

3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “Key Largo” (1948, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Blurbed August 10, 2012.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Casablanca” (1942, Michael Curtiz). With Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

10 p.m. (7 p.m.) “The Maltese Falcon” (1941, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor.

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Mildred Pierce” (1945, Michael Curtiz). With Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth.

4 a.m. (1 a.m.): “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948, John Huston). With Humphrey Bogart and Walter Huston.


The Noir File: Non-stop tension from pulp-fiction king Woolrich

By Mike Wilmington and Film Noir Blonde

This is a guide to classic film noir on cable TV. All the movies are from the current schedule of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), which broadcasts them uncut and uninterrupted. The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard).

Pick of the Week

The Window” (1949, Ted Tetzlaff). Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, 1:45 a.m. (10:45 p.m.)

On a sweltering New York City night, a 9-year-old named Tommy (Bobby Driscoll) witnesses a murder committed by neighbors (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman).

Unfortunately Tommy is known for crying wolf and his parents (Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy) don’t believe him. As he keeps trying to tell his story, the killers become more and more aware of the threat he poses and more determined to shut him up.

Of all the great noir writers – Hammett, Chandler, Cain, Goodis, Thompson – no one could generate sheer screaming suspense like pulp-fiction king Cornell Woolrich. And this picture, along with Hitchcock’s 1954 “Rear Window,” are the most tension-packed, unnerving movies made from Woolrich’s stories.

Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968)

“The Window,” shot largely on location, has grittily evocative street scenery and the cast is letter-perfect. (Driscoll won a special Juvenile Oscar for his performance.) The director was Ted Tetzlaff, an ace cinematographer who shot Hitchcock’s “Notorious,” and he does a wonderful job here.

This movie seethes with atmosphere and character, crackles with fear and dread. There are some classic film noirs that are underrated, and – perhaps because the protagonist here is, atypically, a child – this is one of them.

Saturday, Sept. 15

10 p.m. (7 p.m.) “Strangers on a Train” (1951, Alfred Hitchcock)

12 a.m. (9 p.m.) “Dial M for Murder” (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)

2 a.m. (11 p.m.) “Niagara” (1953, Henry Hathaway)

3:45 a.m. (12:45 a.m.): “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1946, Tay Garnett). See Noir File, 6/29/12

Sunday, Sept. 16

3:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m.): “Point Blank” (1967, John Boorman). “Point Blank” is one of the quintessential neo noirs. Lee Marvin is a thief betrayed and left for dead in Alcatraz. When he takes off after his treacherous associates and their bosses (Carroll O’Connor and Lloyd Bochner), with the help of a mysterious guide (Keenan Wynn) and a glamorous pal (Angie Dickinson), it’s a magnetic, terrifying sight.

Based on a novel by “Richard Stark” (aka Donald Westlake), the movie is steeped in its Los Angeles locale: a deadly city of noir that’s also a surprisingly beautiful sunlit-vision of LA circa 1967. With Boorman going all out, this classic movie plays like a grand collaboration among Don Siegel, Alain Resnais, Phil Karlson and Jean-Pierre Melville. As for Lee Marvin, he’s at the top of his game. So is Angie.

Wednesday, Sept. 19

6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “The Breaking Point” (1950, Michael Curtiz). Based on Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not,” and starring John Garfield in the Bogie part, this is a more faithful adaptation than the 1944 Howard Hawks picture, but not quite as good a movie. (Then again, some buffs prefer it.) Curtiz gives it speed, atmosphere and a dark overview. The rest of the cast includes Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter and, in the Walter Brennan part, the matchless Juano Hernandez.


TCM Classic Film Festival 2012 draws stars and fans

From Thursday night’s world premiere of the newly restored “Cabaret” to the closing-night screening of “Annie Hall” on Sunday, the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood was packed with stars, fans, media and movie experts. “Cabaret,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, opened the fest. The red-carpet event at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre drew stars Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York.

Other luminaries included: Kim Novak, Bob Mackie, Debbie Reynolds, Norman Jewison, Rhonda Fleming, Peggy Cummins, Marsha Hunt, Rose McGowan, Richard Anderson, Thelma Schoonmaker, Robert Evans, Robert Towne, Robert Wagner, Kirk Douglas, Stanley Donen, Tippi Hedren, Angie Dickinson, Tina Sinatra, Tony Roberts and Walter Mirisch.

And fittingly, since the fest’s theme was style, there were film noir screenings as well as events devoted to both noir and fashion. The Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie Muller programmed the classic noir offerings, Shannon Clute and Richard Edwards of led a panel discussion and author Foster Hirsch was on hand to interview Walter Mirisch, whose first foray into producing was 1947’s “Fall Guy” by director Reginald Le Borg.

I’m still recovering from so much delightful viewing, but here are a few photo highlights, courtesy of the fest.

All images courtesy of TCM Classic Film Festival/photographers Jason Merritt, Edward M. Pio Roda, Mark Hill and Adam Rose.

A festival poster at the Roosevelt Hotel, HQ for the event.

Bob Osborne and Liza Minnelli

Ben Mankiewicz and Tippi Hedren

Inside Grauman's Chinese Theatre

Fans lined up in the rain to see movies at Grauman's.

A festival display inside the Roosevelt

Noir star Marsha Hunt, Eddie Muller and Rose McGowan

From left: Robert Evans, Robert Towne and Robert Osborne before the "Chinatown" screening.

Kim Novak made her mark at Grauman's.

Kim Novak and her husband

Fresh prints by Kim Novak

Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame


Noir City X film fest starts Friday in San Francisco

The Film Noir Foundation celebrates 10 years of deliciously dark programming with NOIR CITY X: The Stuff Bad Dreams Are Made Of. The 10-day festival features a Dashiell Hammett marathon, freshly preserved 35mm rarities, by-popular-demand encore screenings, and special guest star Angie Dickinson. The fest runs Jan. 20-29 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco.

Among the rarities NOIR CITY is presenting this year is a new 35mm print from Universal Pictures of 1949’s “The Great Gatsby,” starring Alan Ladd as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s legendary hero. Universal is also providing a new 35mm print of 1954’s “Naked Alibi,” starring noir’s favorite bad girl, Gloria Grahame. Also on the bill are preservations of the 1946 classic “Three Strangers” and 1950’s “The Breaking Point,” directed by Michael Curtiz and starring John Garfield.

After San Francisco, the fest will travel to other cities with variations on the programming.


Free stuff from FNB: Win ‘The Killers’ two-disc set

Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner

Screening at AFI FEST 2011 is one of the all-time great film-noir works: “The Killers.” Based on an Ernest Hemingway short story and directed by Robert Siodmak, the movie instantly established stardom for Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. “The Killers” will screen at 4 p.m. on Nov. 7 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

The winner of November’s reader giveaway will receive a copy of Criterion’s DVD edition of “The Killers,” which includes the Siodmak version and Don Siegel’s 1964 made-for-TV feature, starring Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes, Angie DickinsonRonald Reagan and Clu Gulager. You can read more about the special features here.

(The winner of the October reader giveaway is Ruslan, congrats to the winner and thanks to all who entered!)

To enter the November giveaway, just leave a comment on any FNB post from Nov. 1-30. The winner will be randomly selected at the end of the month and announced in early December. Include your email address in your comment so that I can notify you if you win. Your email will not be shared. Good luck!