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Walker IN YOUR FACE: Behind the scenes of iconic 60s crime drama ‘Point Blank’
11.12.2015
10:13 am
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In the 1960s, Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson starred in two pivotal gangster movies that dragged American crime cinema out of the shadows of film noir and into the harsh technicolor daylight of the nuclear age. The first was Don Siegel’s The Killers in 1964—a reworking of the Ernest Hemingway short story which had been originally filmed in 1946. The film co-starred Ronald Reagan in perhaps his finest role as a vicious underworld mobster. Siegel brought a brutal, calculating violence to his film which was further developed by John Boorman three years later with Point Blank. Where Siegel’s characters merely lived in their ultra-modern landscape, Boorman’s players were left cold and alienated by the clean, bright and colorful modern world.

Loosely based on pulp novel The Hunter by Donald E. Westlake, Boorman shifted the book’s east coast location to the blue skies and golden beaches of California. He changed the central character from the likeable tough “Parker,” to the hungry, relentless loner “Walker.” In Lee Marvin, Boorman was blessed with the only actor capable of inhabiting this complex role. Boorman has since said that Marvin used his own “brutalizing” experiences as a sniper in the Second World War to bring Walker to life—experiences which had “dehumanized him and left him desperately searching for his humanity.” It is certainly one of Marvin’s greatest performances (his next movie with Boorman Hell in the Pacific is equally as brilliant) and he was superbly supported by Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn and John Vernon.

Boorman’s powerfully iconic and artful direction puts Point Blank above any other crime movie of that era, and though lightly praised at the time, it is fair to say with Point Blank there would have been no Bullitt or Dirty Harry or any of the long list of gritty crime thrillers that dominated the 1970s.
 
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Lee Marvin and John Boorman discuss filming a scene.
 
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Lee Marvin as Walker.
 
More iconic photos from the filming of ‘Point Blank,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.12.2015
10:13 am
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Hollywood’s macho, tough guy legend: ‘Lee Marvin, a personal portrait’ by John Boorman
10.16.2015
11:16 am
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Lee Marvin was the kind man you’d want at your side should ever you get in a barroom brawl. There was something about Lee Marvin that you could trust—an integrity that meant he’d be there trading fists until the very last varmint was out cold. Sure he was tough, but there was also a great sensitivity to Marvin—he had an intuitive understanding to other’s needs and a knowledge on how best to help them.

When John Boorman was directing the closing scenes for Point Blank on Alcatraz, Marvin recognized the young director was out of his depth and needed a little time to get his head around how he was going to direct the scenes. To give him time, Marvin played drunk—singing and roaring. The production manager took Marvin away and fed him black coffee. As soon as Boorman had his thoughts together, Marvin was ready to shoot the scene.
 
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Lee Marvin was born in 1924 into a middle class family his father was an ad executive, his mother a fashion writer. Lee once claimed his family could trace their lineage back to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. He was educated at a Christian socialist boarding school, which shaped his politics as a lifelong liberal and Democrat.

As a youth, he hopped trains criss-crossing America. In the Second World War, he enlisted in the US Marines serving as a sniper with the 4th Marine Division fighting in the Pacific. During the Battle of Saipan most of his platoon was wiped out. Marvin was badly wounded—shot on the foot, leg, and buttocks—a deeply traumatic event that left him feeling guilty to have survived when so many of his comrades had died. He later said he felt he was “a coward,” which was the exact opposite of what he had been. Later, when he was an established star, he joked in one TV interview that being a young soldier in battle had taught him how to act.
 
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In movies Marvin’s tough, granite, impassive looks made everyone else look like they were acting. He was a genuinely brilliant actor, who brought subtly to gesture and movement, and purpose to the simplest of lines few actors could match.
 
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John Boorman and Lee Marvin during filming of ‘Point Blank’ 1967.
 
John Boorman had his big break through Lee Marvin. Fifty years ago when Marvin was the King of Hollywood—after beating Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton to best actor Oscar for Cat Ballou—he gave Boorman his full and unmitigated support as the director of Point Blank. Boorman was a novice who had made only one (flop) movie, but Marvin liked and trusted him. It was a major risk for Marvin, but he saw something in Boorman that was worth standing up for. Point Blank once again confirmed Marvin as top of the tree and started Boorman off on his long cinematic career.

More Marvin after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.16.2015
11:16 am
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Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Warren Oates and John Boorman at the ‘Point Blank’ wrap party
08.28.2014
10:44 am
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You can read all the self-help and how-to-succeed books you want, but sometimes success comes down to how you get on with other people.

The English director John Boorman had only directed one (flop) film, the sub-Beatles Dave Clark Five flick Catch Us If You Can, when he met Lee Marvin to discuss working on a film together. Marvin was at the top of the tree having just won several awards (including an Oscar) for his performance in Cat Ballou. The actor was in England working on his latest feature The Dirty Dozen when he had a discussion with Boorman about the possibility of making a film together based on Richard Stark’s novel The Hunter. There was a script, but neither Marvin or Boorman liked it much, both preferring Stark’s hard-edged loner Parker from the book, or as he was renamed in the screenplay, Walker.

For whatever reasons, the novice film director and the experienced actor hit it off, and Marvin agreed to appear in Boorman’s film—there was only one thing, he just didn’t want that script. In an interview between Boorman and Steven Soderbergh, the director recalled how the actor called a meeting with the film company’s head of studio, the film’s producers and himself, where Marvin asked if he had script approval? They told him, he did. Then Marvin asked if he had approval of the main casting? Again he was told he did. Then Lee Marvin did something extraordinary:

He said, “I defer all those approvals to John.” And he walked out. So on my very first film in Hollywood, I had final cut and I made use of it.

This is how John Boorman was able to make Point Blank the way he wanted to make it. The film established him as a powerful and visionary director, while his movie Point Blank was hailed by critics as a masterpiece, which has grown in reputation over the years, and is now listed as one of those [Pick a number] Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Success comes not from any dime store self-help book but from who you are and what talent you have, and sometimes from the people who like you.

This selection of seldom seen photographs come from the wrap party given for Point Blank at the Zoo club in Los Angeles, 1967.
 
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Lee Marvin arrives at the Zoo club with drink and cigarette to hand.
 
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Lee Marvin, John Boorman and Michelle Triola—who would later (unsuccessfully) sue the actor for palimony.
 
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Steve McQueen with then wife Neile McQueen (short dark hair). Note Burt Reynolds cuttin’ a rug.
 
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Marvin and Boorman horse around with Keenan Wynn.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.28.2014
10:44 am
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‘Zardoz’: Stills of Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling from John Boorman’s neglected masterpiece

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A fine selection of stills from John Boorman’s neglected masterpiece Zardoz, which starred Sean Connery as Zed, an Exterminator, who escapes to the land of his rulers, the jaded Eternals (Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman, John Alderton) bringing them sex and death.

I am great fan of this film, and particularly its novelization, written by Boorman and Bill Stair, which brought a small epiphany to my childhood. It would be good to see Zardoz rightfully reclaimed as a classic of the 1970’s cinema, one that reflected many of the ideas and politics of that decade, leading to a re-mastered version of Zardoz having a re-release on the film festival circuit. 
 
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Previously on Dangerous Minds

Photospread on John Boorman’s ‘Zardoz’ from 1974


‘Zardoz’ re-imagined as an 8-bit game


 
H/T Retronaut, via Tout Cine
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.03.2013
09:11 am
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Photo-spread for John Boorman’s ‘Zardoz’, 1974

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I read John Boorman and Bill Stair’s novelization of Zardoz when I was about 12. It was—to be frank—a defining moment in my childhood. The story chimed with many of my half-baked thoughts about those usual tropes—the control of religion, the division of class, society’s inequalities and its endemic violence. In a way you could say it was the start of my adult education. The book held extra significance as I had walked home from school for a week to save the money on bus fares to buy it. After reading it—nothing was ever the same. How could it be? When within its opening pages a flying godhead Zardoz has descended form the heavens and announced to its murderous followers:

“You have been raised up from Brutality, to kill the Brutals who multiply, and are legion. To this end, Zardoz your God gave you the gift of the Gun. The Gun is good!

“The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken.”

 
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When Sean Connery was sent the script, he was “absolutely caught by its originality”, as he told Gordon Gow from Films and Filming in 1974:

“It was one of the best ideas I’d come across for ages…So by the following weekend I was over in Ireland to prepare for filming.

“What gripped me especially was the direction the people in [the script] were taking in the future existence, as opposed to space ships and rockets and all that…[..]...What does interest me is the possible development of society in centuries to come. The way different levels and types evolve in the script is intriguing and refreshing, and could well be true. The fact that people are not going to die, for example.

“Many things are changed by the knowledge you’re not going to die. There’s no need to procreate, therefore it takes away the sexual drives. Today we live in the age of analysis: we can give answers as to why people do things, whether it’s ambition or fighting for power or because they hated their father or their mother - their hangups become a kind of blueprint to their behavior. But if you take that away you get an entirely different concept of human beings.’

Connery hadn’t been Boorman’s first choice, that had been Burt Reynolds, with whom Boorman had scored the major hit Deliverance. Somehow I can’t imagine Reynolds carrying off the thigh high boots or red loin cloth, or exuding the necessary untrammeled masculinity. With the success of Deliverancve, Boorman was given a carte blanche to make what he wanted. He started working on a science fiction script, Zardoz, in 1972, and brought in Bill Stair to “...help rationalize the visions that threatened to engulf me.”

Zardoz is certainly rich with ideas, some better developed than others, but all have their own merits. That’s one thing about the best of seventies’ films, they had intelligence behind them, ideas at play, rather than today’s reliance on CGI and anodyne stories.

Set in the 23rd century, where Exterminators trade grain with their god - Zardoz - for guns to exploit and kill. Enter Zed (Connery) who questions why a god would require grain, and sneaks on board the flying godhead to uncover the secret of Zardoz and life beyond the Outlands in the Vortex.

The Outlands: once it was called the good Earth. Now it is the desolate, exhausted, polluted wasteland all the world has become, except for the lush Vortex.

The Eternals: members of the Vortex. Highly privileged scientists and intellectuals, eternally young, who have learned all the Secrets of Life - except one.

The Exterminators: a privileged and physically superior group permitted to breed under strict control to fight the Brutals and support the Vortex.

The Brutals: the last survivors of the dying world outside the Vortex, who live at subsistence level.

The Apathetics: victims of the pursuit of perfection, they are Eternals who have found the strain of immortality too great and live only for the one thing their society denies them.

The Renegades: malicious, embittered offenders in the Vortex who would defy and destroy the establishment - if they could only find it.

Connery explained the film to Gow:

“Then society, a sit always does, starts to fragment into different strata. There are the Apathetics and the Renegades. They are all Eternals, these people, who are going to live forever. The base of all the great learning that the world has accumulated by that stage becomes a Tabernacle, which gives people information as to how to act, like a major computer, a great feed-tank put together by the best minds of the world. But the human condition is such that it still retains anger and other emotions.

“There are areas like oases: each is known as a Vortex. They exist throughout the world on a system of highly democratic rule with guidelines supplied from the Tabernacle. But the Renegades abhor the system and fight it…[..]...On the other hand, the Apathetics are reluctant to do anything at all..the Renegades they’d really like to die, to get out.

“Beyond the Vortex areas, there are the Outlands: very barren. The inhabitants there are called the Brutals, they’re rather like our present society, not very civilized. The god Zardoz gives the Brutals something to worship, the gun. the penis is evil, the gun is good. The Brutals are necessary to each Vortex, because they’ve been taught to provide wheat and other food substances…[..]...This is where the character I play comes in. I hide in the head…[..]...and set about destroying the society.”

For your delectation, here is the original photo preview for Zardoz, which appeared in Films and Filming in March 1974.
 
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More pics from ‘zardoz’, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.18.2011
06:19 pm
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‘Zardoz’ imagined as an 8bit game

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I’ve always been a fan of John Boorman’s Zardoz, no matter how camp, cheesy, or even ridiculous it may seem. Therefore, I do wish this brief 8-bit animation by nickcriscuolo was a real game.

Okay, it’s only an opening sequence, but just think of the potential Boorman’s and Bill Stair’s original story offers: as the Exterminator Zed (Sean Connery) crosses from the land of the Brutals (where “the gun is good and the penis is evil”), to a world of the Eternals, Apathetics, Renegades and the lovely Charlotte Rampling, where Zed finds himself the subject of the Eternals’ experiments and games, and uncovers the dark secret at the heart of their Vortex and its Tabernacle. O, yes this could work.

And of course, Connery and Rampling would voice it, and there’d be optional thigh-length boots. How bloody marvelous.
 

 
Bonus clip of original ‘Zardoz’ film trailer, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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07.20.2011
07:00 pm
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