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The Killing [DVD]


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Product details

  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen, Ted de Corsia
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson, Lionel White
  • Producers: Alexander Singer, James B. Harris
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, English, German
  • Dubbed: French, German, Italian, Spanish
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English, German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 15 July 2002
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000068C3E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,128 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) gets out of prison after a five-year stint and begins to put together plans for a million dollar race track heist. As he gathers his crew together, it seems that Johnny's plan is fool-proof and is sure to go off without a hitch. However, when gang member George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr) tells his wife (Marie Windsor) about the plans, and she in turn tells her boyfriend (Vince Edwards), the seeds are sown for the whole operation's undoing.

From Amazon.co.uk

Among Stanley Kubrick's early film output The Killing stands out as the most lastingly influential: Quentin Tarantino credits the film as a huge inspiration for Reservoir Dogs and just about any movie or TV show that plays around with its own internal chronology owes the same debt. This sort of convoluted crime caper had really kicked off with John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle in 1950. From then on, nouveau noir scripts kept trying to find new ways of telling very similar stories. Here the novel Clean Break is adapted for the screen in a jigsaw-puzzle structure that caught Kubrick's eye. With a dry narration we're introduced to the key players in a racetrack heist as it's being planned, but the story bounces back and forth between what happens to each of them during and before the big event. All of this keeps the audience guessing as to exactly how it will go wrong, while the downbeat telling, the unsympathetic characters and the excessively dramatic score clearly foretell that it will go wrong from the start. The denouement is comically daft no matter how many times you see it.

On the DVD: The Killing is a no-frills DVD transfer, in 4:3 ratio and with its original mono soundtrack. Criminally, just one trailer is all that's been dug up as an extra. --Paul Tonks

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Serkan Silahsor on 29 Oct. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
During a span of 46 years, Stanley Kubrick made only 13 feature films, from "Fear and Desire (1953)" to "Eyes Wide Shut (1999)". Although each has its own charm and unique taste and style, none looks much like the other in terms of genre and theme. "The Killing" represents Kubrick's entrance into the dark shadowy world of film noir. He was the master of exploring the dusky side of human nature in his pictures, focusing on crime, deceit, betrayal and morality. So, film noir & Kubrick: what a perfect fit.

The term "killing" refers to an elaborate heist of a race track. The robbery is masterminded by ex-Alcatraz inmate Johnny Clay, who rounds up a motley assortment of crooks, most of whom are small-timers as well as insiders in the race track lounge. Clay and his trusted accomplices have different stories and motives. We know a lot about them because the movie has an unusually convulted narrative structure, which was ahead of its time albeit outdated today. Flipping back and forth in time, he introduces a character, takes him a certain way where each gets a chance to tell his version of the story. Such kind of flashbacks and flashforwards are used in heist sequence, reflecting the various aspects of the robbery in different space and time.

That non-linear storytelling works well with Kubrick's deft directorial touch, but when the film was first released in 1956, United Artists dumped it on the grounds that it was too weird for average viewer and nobody would sit through that. Then Kubrick decided to re-edit the film. After watching new version he absolutely hated it, and put it back the way first edited it. It was his very first triumph to gain absolute control over his work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By SJT on 5 Aug. 2012
Format: Blu-ray
With typical Amazon misleading sloppiness, the Criterion Blu-ray edition of this film is described as "a no-frills DVD transfer, in 4:3 ratio and with its original mono soundtrack. Criminally, just one trailer is all that's been dug up as an extra. --Paul Tonks". But of course it isn't. It's a BD absolutely festooned with extras, one of which is a whole other Kubrick film remastered in HD, "The Killer's Kiss", thrown in for free together with the umpteen interviews, documentaries and fat booklet. Never trust a word on Amazon concerning contents: always refer to something like Bluray.com for accurate information.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S J Buck TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of Kubrick's early films, and the first to show the world that here was a film director who would never produce run of the mill movies. Its essentially a heist movie set a horse race track, but made in a film noir style complete with narration and a multitude of interesting characters, who are virtually all up to no good.

For the 1950's this is a highly original film. Events are not neccessarily seen chronologically, so we get to see an event and then get to see in detail how one of the major players affected the event. Think how Pulp Fiction played with time. Well this does it on a smaller scale but more often.

As films go this one is pretty much perfect. I was only going to give this 4 stars but when I tried to justify this I honestly couldn't think of anything wrong with it so ended up giving it 5. The cinematography, script and Kubrick's assured direction are all excellent.

The film could probably do with a digital remaster, there is one character - 'Maurice Oboukoff' - who I could really only a understand few words of when he spoke, but he had a strong accent and only spoke in one scene, so it didn't affect my enjoyment of the film.

Marvellous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: DVD
Film Noir is one my favourite genres and even more so is the Heist genre that was part of it: The Killing ranks with the seminal Heist film Asphalt Jungle as one the best noires made. The story follows Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) who plans a a robbery of race track with some other criminals but as with most of these films it isn't long before things start to go viciously wrong. Elisha Cook Jr. plays his usual loser act (he usually gets small film noir roles in I Wake Up Screaming, The Big Sleep and Born To Kill and others) but gets a bit more meatier role in this noir. Stanley Kubrick directs brilliantly and stylishly: in one scene the gang sit around a table in a dark room as a lamp hangs over is visually brilliant and the robbery scene from a few of characters perspectives is gripping. The ending has been criticised but I think it fits perfectly in the nightmarish world the film operates in where things go horribly wrong. What surprises me though is Kubrick only made two noires this and the equally good Killer's Kiss (1955), it's a real shame as he could have made some other really good ones. Some say The Killing was just a stepping stone to Kubrick's better and later films but I think The Killing is one his best films.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By "geoffgibson" on 22 July 2002
Format: DVD
An early piece of cinema from acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick (2001, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket etc.) The story tells of a group of men who come together to rob a race-track in the middle of their biggest race. Each character has his own part to play in the crime and the robbery can't go ahead unless they all perfom their own part.
When it comes to the actual robbery, we get to see the crime form each man's point of view, which means the time of day repeatly shifts to keep up. It's a style not unlike 'Pulp Fiction' (Quentin Tarentino has said on many occasions that this is one of the films that inspired him to write that film as well as Resevoir Dogs)
You could say that the acting is wooden, or 2-dimensional, but it seems to fit the film noir setting of the piece. There is a 'True Romance' style shooting and a final twist at the end thrown in for good measure.
If you haven't seen this film before, you are missing out on a cracking bit of drama. It comes with Tarentino's seal of approval, and it's a Kubrick, what more do you want !!
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