"Don't tease me. You know what I do for a living."

The Meaning of "Blank" in "Grosse Pointe Blank"

Aside from the obvious reference to the surname of the main character1, the title is an obscure reference to the campy, real estate sales-y names of the suburbs that make up Grosse Pointe: Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe City, Grosse Pointe Park (I lived in these last two!), etc. or if the point one is making could apply to any of them, Grosse Pointe ______.

Few natives in my experience referred to them collectively as Grosse Pointe Blank, but any native would know exactly what you mean.

Is the place at all like the movie?

The movie title nicely captures a angsty-hip vibe the movie producers clearly want to tap in to. Probably they've seen, or even read, Less Than Zero. Such a vibe (or at least the hip part of it) is completely lacking in the real Grosse Pointes, which are socially very conservative. Even the yuppies there shy away from hip, because it screams "new money".

One of the character revealing devices in the movie is the cool, independent radio station where Debi works, called Pointe Radio or something like that. Such a radio station doesn't exist. Now, movies take artistic license all the time, what's the big deal? Well, if anyone tried to start such a station, the powers that be would do everything in their power to ban it, and would probably succeed!

True story from about 1981: On the commercial strip of Grosse Pointe Park there was a movie theater, called the Esquire I think, that wasn't doing too well. To bring in youth business, they installed...gasp...video games in the lobby. Quickly a new zoning ordinance was passed, and these games were gone within the month. The explanation I heard was, there was a concern that kids might go there, not to watch movies, but just to "hang out". When I learned to drive, a major milestone was when I figured out to use the highway and Gratiot Ave to get to the nearest video arcade...some four suburbs away.

A similar thing happened when in I think 1984 a new ice cream parlor opened on Kercheval Ave in Grosse Pointe Woods. It was far from the only place to get ice cream, but for some reason it became a huge hit with the junior high school (ages 10-14) crowd. On a weekend, it would be packed 4 or 5 kids deep at the counter. You see, if you're too young to get invited to the main high school social thing, the house-party-cum-keg, there's really no social scene that kids can call their own in Grosse Pointe. Sure enough, after newspaper articles and a scandal, the ice cream place was branded another dangerous kid hang-out and shut down.

I'm glad the movie created an independent radio station, Grosse Pointe really needs something like that. The movie soundtrack was quite good, I especially liked the impromptu beat-down scene in front of the hallway lockers, to the tune of Mirror in the Bathroom. Sadly, if the Grosse Pointes ever did have a radio station during the era I grew up there, it would have been all easy listening, all the time. You can read a little more in my contribution to the Grosse Pointe write-up.

End Note

1. "Also there is the pun, point blank as in shooting someone "point blank", since the main character is a hit man." I want to give a 'shot out' to Miles_Dirac and TenMinJoe for pointing this out. Any such shooting would certainly be pretty "gross".

When Martin's mother, Mary Blank (played by Barbara Harris), is seen in a mental hospital babbling incoherently, she exits stage right and recites several lines from a poem followed by the line "Silly. Bye, Martin". The poem is actually a distortion of the last few lines of The Ladies by Rudyard Kipling.

Mary says:

The Colonel's lady, like Judy O'Grady
Are twins under the skin!

Kipling's original text:

For the Colonel’s lady an’ Judy O’Grady,
Are sisters under their skins!

You can find the poem in it's entirety at http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/Rudyard_Kipling/kipling_the_ladies.htm

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.