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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Film Noir
The Killers was directed in 1946 by Robert Siodmak (Criss Cross, 1948; The Spiral Staircase, 1945) and was adapted by Anthony Villier and John Huston from the Ernest Hemingway story of the same name. Much of the film is told in flashback sequences similar to that of Citizen Kane (1941). An insurance investigator, played by Edmond O' Brian (DOA 1950; Barefoot Contessa...
Published on 18 Feb 2007 by Nobody

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for the time
It was very interesting to know this was Burt Lancaster first film, he put in a very good show for himself, i missed it first time for, i was just six years when it come out, still it was worth catching up with it now. the lighting is very good it a view on what was going in the USA at time.
Published 23 months ago by Omger one


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43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Film Noir, 18 Feb 2007
By 
Nobody (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
The Killers was directed in 1946 by Robert Siodmak (Criss Cross, 1948; The Spiral Staircase, 1945) and was adapted by Anthony Villier and John Huston from the Ernest Hemingway story of the same name. Much of the film is told in flashback sequences similar to that of Citizen Kane (1941). An insurance investigator, played by Edmond O' Brian (DOA 1950; Barefoot Contessa 1954), attempts to solve the murder of `Swede' who is gunned down by two hitmen. Burt Lancaster stars as `Swede' in his film debut and would later star in Criss Cross also. This truly is a brilliant film noir with some excellent dialogue, especially in the opening diner scene (lifted straight out of short story), as well as superb cinematography. The Killers also made a star out of Ava Gardener as the femme fatale interest Kitty. I don't think however she is as great a femme fatale as say Lana Turner, Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall or Gloria Grahame were in similar roles. The Killers was a critical as well as box-office hit and received an Oscar nomination this year but lost out to William Wyler's `The Best Years Of Our Lives'

The DVD package is very basic with no extras but is a decent transfer.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate crime noir from 1946, 31 May 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
How do you make an interesting movie when the character the movie ostensibly is all about is just a dumb lug, as interesting as a boiled potato? The Swede stumbles into one situation after another, willing to believe in true love or lies. For me, director Robert Siodmak and screenwriters Anthony Veiller, Richard Brooks and John Huston (the last two uncredited) solve this problem three ways.

First, there is the great look and style of the movie. I think it's impossible to say one movie looks better than all others, especially when it comes to noirs, but The Killers nails as well as any the dark, foreboding feel of cheap hotel rooms, shadowy streets and close-ups of white, worried faces. Second, all the flashbacks in this movie create the sense of a complex jigsaw puzzle slowly being solved. The story not only becomes complicated and interesting, it's great fun to see what the next piece in the puzzle is going to show us. And what helps make all those puzzle pieces interesting is the cast of characters who take turns in the flashback spotlights. There's not a dud actor in the lot. And third, for me, is the sourness of the ending. No, not the last scene of a smiling Edmond O'Brien jauntily leaving his boss's office. It's the revelation of what a nasty piece of work Kitty Collins really was and how far out of her league was the Swede. He was just a big, thick-eared guy who, in other circumstances, might have gone straight, but he didn't have a chance when he saw Kitty that first time at the party sitting next to the piano player. I don't think this was what Rodgers and Hammerstein had in mind when they wrote about seeing a stranger across a crowded room.

Besides, "I did something wrong once" is a great line to power a crime movie with.

What also struck me is the simplicity of the logic behind Jim Colfax' decision to unleash the two hit men onto the Swede. At first, it seemed so much smarter just to let things coast by. But Colfax's reasoning holds up if you think about it, and that logic powers the action of the movie. What doesn't hold up is the motivation of the two hit men's behavior in the diner. How much easier it would have been to walk in, sit down and order a couple of cups of coffee. Then mention they were in town to pay back some money to the Swede but they don't have his address. Anybody know where he lives? Someone would have said, "Why, sure. He lives at Ma's boarding house just a couple of blocks from here." I know, this more practical approach would have gutted the foreboding and nervousness of the movie. I'm not advocating this, just suggesting that it's a little bothersome when a great plot device has a flaw.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great opening, 27 Aug 2010
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
The killers are Charles McGraw (Al) and William Conrad (Max). They arrive in a small town looking for Burt Lancaster (The Swede). They find him and kill him. The rest of the film follows insurance investigator Edmond O'Brien (Jim Reardon) as he unravels the life that 'The Swede' led in an attempt to find out why he was killed. However, he is also putting himself in danger....

The killers appear in the first 15 minutes and the final 15 minutes and they are worth every moment of their screen time. They are clearly an influence on the later 1980's and 1990's gangster films, eg "Good Fellas" where the gangsters in that film improvise scenes with dialogue such as "do you think I'm funny?", "Why are you laughing?", etc......Well....."The Killers" does it first.

The bulk of the story is told in flashback as we are introduced to different characters and watch different segments that help to provide a complete picture. There are numerous different flashback episodes. It's a device that could be very annoying and confusing but the film manages to get away with it. There are a couple of dumb things about the film - Burt Lancaster being called 'The Swede' is one. Another is Burt's appallingly creepy staring at Ava Gardner (Kitty) when they first meet. What a letch. Not at all cool. Maybe that's how things worked in the gay community back in those days but Burt needed to come away from that scene and he doesn't pull it off in those first scenes with Ava.

Overall, the film is very good with an excellent cast and many memorable scenes thanks to the cast, lighting and direction, eg, the whole opening section that lasts for a quarter of an hour. The story keeps you guessing and there is a twist at the end that you won't guess. Clever use is also made of a dying man's ability to testify. Poor Burt's character got a real bum deal in this film. Definitely worth seeing again.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Influential film noir, 26 April 2009
By 
This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
Robert Siodmark was one of a clutch of directors who came out of the UFA studios in Berlin and took refuge from the Nazis in Hollywoood. (His first film, in Germany, was co-directed with Billy Wilder, Fred Zinneman and Edgar Ulmer.) Unlike the others, instead of making a beeline for Los Angeles, he lingered in France, and his films have a more European film to them.

This is particularly evident in the opening sequences of "The Killers" (in some ways the tautest and best bit), where Burt Lancaster, The Swede, is holed up in his boarding house waiting fatalistically for the hoods to come and kill him. The trapped young man, innocent but flawed victim of the femme fatale, harks straight back to Jean Gabin in Carne's "Le Jour Se Leve" Le Jour Se Leve [DVD] [1939]. The films flashback structure with multiple narrators draws on "Citizen Kane" Citizen Kane [DVD] [1942] but also echoes Carne.

The relationship between French romantic movies of the 30s and film noir may be something for movie buffs, but the big question is, how well does the movie play today? The answer is, pretty well, but not quite as well as it might. The main problem is the flashback structure, which takes away narrative pace. The main story, of the big gentle good-natured ex-boxer, drawn into crime when his sports career goes belly-up, and spiralling down for love of Ava Gardner, has a kind of momentum; however, every time we get somewhere we have to go back to Edmund O'Brien as the investigator, and set up how he gets to talk to the next witness.

This was Burt Lancaster's first film, and it shows slightly. He hasn't yet grown into film stardom, and his performance is a little too considered, "now-I-gotta-do-this", and the lines come fractionally too slow and deliberate. That he is going to be a star, though, there is never any doubt. In the action he shows the economy of the acrobat, and in close up there is that astonishing contrast between gentleness and the absolute ferocious concentration of the eyes. Like all true stars, he knows how to take his time, and he knows he doesn't have to shout.

It's an early role for Ava Gardner too, not as voluptuous as later, and when thinner there's an extraordinary masculinity to her face; with that strong, dimpled chin, she looks a bit like Kirk Douglas in drag. However, her final crack up, begging her boyfriend to save her even though he's already dead, is very effective.

Siodmak is a virtuoso, and it shows in the opening sequence, all shadow and ferocious dialogue, and above all in the filmed robbery, a single extended crane shot. But he's more than a virtuoso, he's a significant director because, unlike Zinnemann, for example, he has something to say about life. He knows it is all illusion, and it can all be taken away at any time, so enjoy the tiny sweet moment for what it's worth while you can. It's the philosophy of the refugee, and the German exiles created film noir not only in style from the German Expressionist films of the 1920s but also in the content of the shifting sands of human existence.

This was made in 1946, when film noir hadn't quite defined what it was, and certainly before it became self-conscious about it. Though not perfect, it was a big influence on films that were.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I adore films of the 40's, Film Noir at it's peak of success!, 31 Aug 2007
By 
L. Flitton "BookDiva" (U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
I recently read Ava Gardner's biography and she stated that her role as Kitty in "The Killers", closely resembles that of herself in regards to her outlook upon her personal relationships with the men she had been involved with. She felt at home with her character and could identify with her feelings. Therefore felt comfortable during the making of this particular picture, unlike many others. I adore film noir and this is one of the best. It has a wonderful plot and is very well shot (No pun intended), Ava looks so young and fresh, a classic beauty of the 40's. How could a women that looked so incredibly stunning and whom was clearly intelligent ever doubt herself so?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good, 13 April 2014
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
This is a good quality sound and vision DVD, as well as being a good film noir. Therefore well recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Knuckle Sandwich, 14 Feb 2014
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
Based on a twist and a twirl, then the flick of a lacquered finger nail - this film sees the Swede (Burt) surrender himself to the femme fatale and then take a hit for the team. Only thing is when he takes the tumble, the years trot by and then he is back on a heist. The Swede was a former pugilist who broke his knuckles and cannot return back to ring. So he has to find another shakedown.

The film operates with a tense atmospheric, markedly when the overawing presence of the hitmen enters the bar at the beginning. Ava Gardner has the full aura to drive a man to distraction whilst having an absence of empathy for anyone around her. She lures those who are unwary into her world.

The film whirls around a insurance investigator who stumbles over an incident and pulls a thread to watch it all unravel. The acting is terse, masculine, hard boiled and without sentiment. The film clips build on a European sensibility with those surreal camera angles and the deep monochrome catching a sense of despair in the after war period. All of this has now disappeared into history, the cars, the fashions even the stances but the aesthetics of this world screams how people had a sense of the future. The one interesting character is the cop who plays a pivotal role and offers one form of moral backbone within the film, the "moral right," and this is is the fulcrum upon which the film pivots. If he perhaps had been less moral then the Swede may have had a completely different life.

The film however is pure nihilism. Yes they do not make them like this any more.

Not in the USA at least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Double-double cross, 3 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
A great detective film. The twists in the tale are many, the final twist was completely unexpected for me. A double-double cross. Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner are superb. Edmond O'Brien as the doggedly determined insurance investigator is very likeable. The last word is funny.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Oh yeah, 18 July 2012
This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
Great movie. Ava Gardner rivals Lauren Bacall for greatest movie entrance ever. Classic noir; the plot is a nightmare to follow, but most enjoyable to watch. It's a shame they don't still make films like this. If you like REAL movies, I recommend this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best noir films, 5 Jun 2012
By 
M. C. Wootton (edinburgh, scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killers [DVD] (DVD)
this really is one of the classics either buy this single disc or get it in the film noir boxset with films like out of the past , the glass key etc.
either way get it.
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The Killers [DVD]
The Killers [DVD] by Robert Siodmark (DVD - 2007)
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