October: Parker Month; The Influence: Point Blank
The pre-production of a film is a one man war, and it begins with a personal idea –– or in some cases, someone else’s. My inspiration was Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter. He is both the guiding light for my movie and the analogy for my pre-production process. Parker works alone – hidden in the shadows – fighting to get what he wants. Pre-production works the same way. I work alone and fight to make my idea complete.
Parker month will not start with Parker, but instead, with Walker, the main character of John Boorman’s 1967 crime classic, Point Blank. Walker (Lee Marvin) is betrayed by his wife, Lynne (Sharon Acker) and her partner Mal Reese (John Vernon). He is left for dead on Alcatraz, but survives, and then proceeds to hunt down those who betrayed him while also facing off against a massive criminal organization known as ‘The Outfit.’ The film is based on the classic Richard Stark novel, The Hunter, and is one of the earliest of many film adaptations.
The story is a classic quintessential revenge tale. There are changes from The Hunter, such as the names and roles of certain characters, along with some location changes (primarily with the initial heist spot and events that transpire during the heist). Yet it still encompasses the downright ruthlessness of the story. Walker is unstoppable, and not one to be fucked with. He will get what he wants and lets no one stand in his way. He moves from place to place, and person to person, hunting not only for Mal Reese, but for the money that was taken from him. From the very beginning of the film, he has lost all compassion and has transformed into a machine. It’s so simple and unforgiving, but brilliant.
The film jumps back and forth between jumbled flashbacks, telling Walker’s backstory in non-linear fashion, and then cuts back to a more straightforward version of Walker’s current state of affairs. There are still many surreal elements in these scenes and Walker may very well be supernatural in many respects (which can be seen as a metaphor for someone who is on a mission to bring the scales of justice into balance). In one poignant example, his wife disappears after she dies. No one moves the body, and no time passes. Walker looks out the window, walks back into the room her corpse was in, but she is simply gone. Simple, but brilliant.
Walker also accomplishes some pretty challenging tasks for someone who was just shot (I doubt most human beings could swim across Alcatraz in a suit). He could be thought of as a zombie, guided by the last thoughts in his mind before death. The jumbled flashbacks and Walker’s deathly presence give off a perfectly and metaphorically supernatural vibe to the entire film. At times I am reminded of magical realism, but with a noir twist.
I would like to draw your attention to several similarities between Point Blank and my film. Both are interpretations of The Hunter that tell the story in a more surreal and mysterious fashion. In The Hunter, Parker is a gritty character, while Boorman’s film and my own go for a more stylistic tone to bring about a specific atmosphere. Mine adds more of a supernatural element and not only pays tribute to Parker, but to the classic Universal horror films as well. The style of Point Blank is classy, yet psychedelic, while Lee Marvin as Walker, brings in the ruthlessness. The film may be different from the classic novel, but it is still a classic and definitive piece of crime fiction.
Favorite Scene: Walker starts to walk down a hallway. Lynne (his wife) goes through her daily motions. His footsteps continue to echo even when he is offscreen. The noise grows closer and closer to the unknowing Lynne. Even when she gets in a cab, it continues. He is unstoppable, and the sounds of his steps are all the audience needs to hear to know he will accomplish his ultimate goal.
Written By: Tyler Ducheneaux