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Author Topic: The Killers (1946)  (Read 1890 times)
cigar joe
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« on: July 07, 2012, 06:07:00 PM »

Director: Robert Siodmak, Writers: Anthony Veiller (screenplay), Ernest Hemingway (story), and 2 more credits Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner Edmond O'Brien, Charles McGraw, William Conrad, Jack Lambert, Virginia Christine, Albert Dekker, and Sam Levene.



Its about time this title had a formal thread I just picked up the Criterion issue so here goes:

first existing comments:

titoli February 05, 2011, 02:27:05 PM
         
The Killers (1946) Better than Criss-Cross, so I give it 8\10. Visually it is astounding:  it has a crisp surface which doesn't belie the fact that (except for the factory scene) it is all shot in a studio. I don't think there is a single shot which is not visually attractive. Plotwise it has some faults, especially in the finale (those dying people on the stairs!, the Gardner's pleading for some useless words that would supposedly save her and so on. But you do not get aware of them until you see the remake:

Then my little blurb....

cigar joe

The Killers (1946) D: Robert Siodmak. Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levene, Virginia Christine, William Conrad, Charles McGraw. Ex-fighter found murdered, subsequent investigation. Story told in flash back. Great stylized cinematography with an outstanding cast, excellent 10/10

The film opens with a through the windshield shot of a winding two lane highway lit by headlights, we next see a street flooded by an off screen streetlight that provides an eerie pool of light. We are immediately transported into Noirsville. Two dark figures approach a closed filling station, they turn and head to a diner/lunch counter each going in opposite entrances. So begins Earnest Hemingway's The Killers directed by Robert Siodmak.

Noirsville....



The story line is told mostly in flashback. Two hit men (McGraw & Conrad) gun down the Swede (Lancaster) in Brentwood NJ, the Swede, who even though warned of his impending peril makes no effort to flee, he is resigned to his fate. The Swede leaves a $2500 life insurance policy with the name of a Atlantic City hotel cleaning lady as the beneficiary.  Insurance investigator Riordan (O'Brien) curious to the facts of the Swede's death, tracks her down and through questioning eventually arrives in Philadelphia with the Swede's real name meets his boyhood buddy police LT Lubinsky (Levene) and discovers that the Swede was an ex-prize fighter turned small time numbers racketeer.

McGraw and Conrad terrorizing the counterman at the diner



Lubinsky and his wife (Christine) who was an old flame of the Swede's fill in the details of his pre Brentwood NJ life. The Swede went seriously off the tracks when he ran into a devious femme fatale, Kitty (Gardner) who he fell head over heals over at a party thrown by gangster Big Jim Colfax, (Decker). Colfax plans a payroll robbery and a double cross and the Swede is the fall guy.

The Swede, "dumbstruck" by vivacious Kitty (Gardner) she's got him hooked and is playing him.



Big Jim Colfax (Decker)



Riordan and Kitty



The opening sequence is a classic, not to be missed and a must see for any noir enthusiast (even if they don't like Lancaster, lol)

From IMDb

Siodmak, Lancaster's first pairing is one of noir's central masterpieces, 4 January 2002

Author: bmacv from Western New York

The Killers marked Burt Lancaster's screen debut, establishing the stoic persona that would sustain his long and luminous career. Along with Criss Cross (also starring Lancaster), The Killers also records the high-water mark of Robert Siodmak's work in film noir.

Starting with a Hemingway short story (the retelling of which constitutes only the prologue to the film), The Killers endeavors to fill in the "back story" which Hemingway left to his readers' imaginations. That back story explains why the "Swede" (Lancaster) passively, almost eagerly, awaits the nasty pair of torpedoes (William Conrad, Charles McGraw) who have come to hunt him down. The germ of this recreation is Lancaster's small, solitary bequest -- to a chambermaid in an Atlantic City hotel where he had once stayed. Insurance investigator Edmond O'Brien catches the scent of something unusual and can't let it go. His investigations, helped by an old buddy of Lancaster's who is now a police lieutenant (Sam Levene), uncover a botched stint as a prizefighter; a smouldering yet duplicitous temptress (Ava Gardner), and a payroll heist that ended in an elaborate double cross.

Siodmak, having disposed of the end right at the outset, takes a circuitous route through his telling by using a fragmented series of flashbacks. Paradoxically -- much as the false starts and averted climaxes in a Bruckner symphony pay off handsomely in the end -- the story thus gains depth and momentum. Woody Bredell's dark and meticulous cinematography fulfills Siodmak's vision, resulting in one of the central masterpieces of the noir cycle.


The Criterion DVD box includes the bonus DVD 1964 remake by Don Don Siegel, and so far I've watched a commentary extras by Stuart Kaminsky who provided dialog for OUTIA, and a reading of Hemingway's short strory The Killers, and more I have yet to view.

« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 06:21:45 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2013, 08:47:45 PM »

I just saw the movie, very solid, I give it an 8.5/10

(You know I hate Lancaster, something about the way he speaks makes me nervous, but I can watch some movies in which he doesn't have a big speaking role [unlike, Cary Grant, whom I coudl never watch a movie that has Grant speak even one word] and Lancaster really doesn't have much dialogue here, so I was able to watch and enjoy the movie.)

One thing I hated - that deathbed sub-conscious murmurings by one of the gang, which clearly tells O'Brien the story of the payroll robbery and the aftermath, is just ludicrous. I don't wanna hear anything about suspension of disbelief; that is absolutely ridiculous, no sub-conscious murmurings can tell you a story that crisply and clearly, and they movie could have easily done it another way say, by having the crook consciously tell the story to the investigator once he knew he was about to die.

That's my one complaint; overall it was a very enjoyable movie.

But i was just wondering, if Lancaster didn't have the money anymore by the time he moved into the boarding house in Brentwood, then why did Edmond O'Brien uncover what looked to be something hidden behind that rug hanging on the wall? Why did Lancaster make taht safe to hide something in the wall if by the time he came to that boarding house in Brentwood, the money had already been stolen from him? Or had he already been living in that boarding house by the time he had the money?

Also, why did Lancaster make that old lady the beneficiary of the insurance plan - was it just cuz he knew that, that way, the insurance investigator will ask her and find out the truth about Lancaster's death?

btw, I was recently reading a book about Edward Hopper, it said that Hopper greatly admired the Hemingway story The Killers, and speculated about whether there was some connection between that and Hopper's famous late-night diner painting Nighthawks. Of course, Hopper was painting noir subjects long before "noir" entered the American film lexicon

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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2013, 04:00:01 AM »

Didn't the cleaning lady prevent him from jumping out the window? I think that is why he made her the beneficiary.
 

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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2013, 05:40:06 AM »

Yes she saved his life. And he hasn't anybody else he cares for.

It's quite funny that the film is announced as "Ernest Hemingwys's The Killers". It's only a short story, and the film does not even follow the atmosphere of the story, which only inspired the beginning of the film.

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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2013, 12:53:31 PM »


It's quite funny that the film is announced as "Ernest Hemingwys's The Killers". It's only a short story, and the film does not even follow the atmosphere of the story, which only inspired the beginning of the film.

yes, but according to TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, Hemmingway loved the movie so much, he said it was the best movie ever made of one of his works (although IMO there ain't much competition there) and had his own 16mm print of the movie, which he used to show to his friends, which included, of course, Ava Gardner.

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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2013, 05:14:43 AM »

The best is probably To Have and Have Not, which has absolutely nothing to do with Hemingway. Only the title and a few names are left from the novel (which is actully some kind of short story compilation).

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« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2013, 05:45:07 PM »

The best is probably To Have and Have Not, which has absolutely nothing to do with Hemingway. Only the title and a few names are left from the novel (which is actully some kind of short story compilation).

To Have and Have Not has some famous dialogue between Bogie & Bacall, but I didn't like the film much, I think I rated it a 6.5/10

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« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2014, 09:10:23 AM »

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film4/blu-ray_reviews_63/the_killers_blu-ray.htm
After lauding the image quality, the review goes on to speak of the many extras that distinguish this package from others:
Quote
This is where there are the most significant differences. Aside from the aforementioned, isolated Music & Effects soundtrack, Arrow have produced a number of supplements themselves including a 54-minute video entitled Frank Krutnik on The Killers, where the author of In a Lonely Street, which introduces the film, offers a detailed commentary on four key scenes. It is excellent. We also get, by Arrow, the 1/2 hour Heroic Fatalism, a video essay adapted from Philip Booth s comparative study of multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel. Included are three archive radio pieces, totalling over an hour, inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director's Playhouse adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters (29:57); a 1946 Jack Benny spoof (10:10); the 1958 Suspense episode Two for the Road (29:10) which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw. Arrow add a stills and posters gallery as well as trailers for  The Killers (1:47), Brute Force (2:15), The Naked City (1:52) and Rififi (2:45). The package contains a reversible sleeve featuring one of the original posters and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw and a collector's booklet containing new writing by Sergio Angelini and archive interviews with director Robert Siodmak, producer Mark Hellinger and cinematographer Woody Bredell, illustrated with original production stills. What a wonderful collection of extras!

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