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on 26 December 2014
THE KILLERS [1964] [Blu-ray] There is More Than One Way to Kill a Man! Explosively NEW in Color!

“I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why all of a sudden he’d rather die.”

So muses hitman Charlie [Lee Marvin] after his high-priced victim Johnny North [John Cassavetes] gives in without a fight. Obsessed with the answer, Charlie and his hot-headed associate Lee [Clu Gulager] track down Johnny’s associates, and uncover a complex web of crime and deceit involving his femme fatale girlfriend Sheila [Angie Dickinson] and ruthless mob boss Jack Browning [Ronald Reagan] in his last screen role.

Loosely inspired by the Ernest Hemingway story, and directed by Don Siegel, whose many other taut, efficient thrillers include ‘Dirty Harry’ and the original ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ ‘The Killers’ was commissioned as the very first “TV movie,” but was given a cinema release because of its violence – although a cast like that really belonged on the big screen in the first place.

FILM FACT: ‘The Killers’ was intended to be the very first "made for TV movie", but NBC judged it too violent to broadcast, so Universal released the movie in theaters instead. Steve McQueen and George Peppard were considered for the Johnny North role. Don Siegel had originally been hired as director of the earlier 1946 version of the same story, but had been fired. Actress Virginia Christine had also appeared in the 1946 version.

Cast: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Clu Gulager, Claude Akins, Norman Fell, Ronald Reagan, Virginia Christine, Don Haggerty, Robert Phillips, Kathleen O'Malley, Ted Jacques, Irvin Mosley Jr., Jimmy Joyce, Davis Roberts, Hall Brock, Burt Mustin, Peter Hobbs, John Copage, Tyler McVey, Seymour Cassel, Scott Hale, Richard Lane (uncredited), Don Siegel (uncredited), Bert Stevens (uncredited) and Nancy Wilson (singer) (uncredited)

Director: Don Siegel

Producer: Don Siegel

Screenplay: Gene L. Coon and Ernest Hemingway (story)

Composer: John Williams and Fred Steiner (uncredited)

Cinematography: Richard L. Rawlings

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 and 1.85:1

Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio

Running Time: 95 mins

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Arrow Academy / Universal Pictures

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Supposedly based on the short story by Ernest Hemingway and inspired by the 1946 Burt Lancaster Black-and-White “film noir” of the same name and directed by the brilliant Don Siegel of the ‘Dirty Harry’ film. ‘The Killers’ stars Lee Marvin of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and Clu Gulager of ‘Return of the Living Dead’ as a couple of contract assassins in a brooding crime thriller about armed robbery, double crosses, fighting over a woman and the hitmen sent in to clean up the mess.

Johnny North [John Cassavetes] of the ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ film, is a former racing driver working in a school for the blind when he is shot dead by assassins Charlie Strom [Lee Marvin] and Lee [Clu Gulager]. Instead of running, Johnny North stood still and took all the bullets, forcing seasoned pro Charlie Strom to question why and begin investigating who hired them for the hit, which leads them back to femme fatale Sheila Farr [Angie Dickinson] of the ‘Dressed to Kill’ film and her ruthless beau Jack Browning [Ronald Reagan]. And then things get very complicated…

As a thriller ‘The Killers’ works tremendously well, the various twists and turns keeping you engaged thanks to some solid performances from all the main cast. For those of us who grew up in the ’80s it is a bit strange seeing former US President Ronald Reagan as the movie actor he was before going into politics but it’s easy to see why the American public was taken with him as he looks every inch the charismatic film star here, playing a villain for the only time in his screen career, and your eyes are immediately drawn to him whenever he’s on the screen. Lee Marvin solidifies his film tough stance guy role as the cold-hearted Charlie Strom but Clu Gulager provides some of the best lines and his background interactions and likes wiping his sunglasses on an informant’s head whilst Lee Marvin is interrogating him and makes him have fun to watch as Ronald Reagan is commanding the scenario. John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson do not quite shine as much as their co-stars but that’s more to do with the strength of Lee Marvin, Ronald Reagan and Clu Gulager’s collective presence rather than their performances.

The racing car scenes mean there’s a lot of fake-looking process shots. But the greatness of the made for TV movie is in the cast. Along with the names I already mentioned it has Claude Akins in an outstanding performance as Johnny’s loyal right hand man during his racing career. To see him cry about Johnny North’s death after telling the killers his story is heart-breaking. He knew what Johnny North was getting himself into but couldn’t talk him out of it.

Even better though are Lee Marvin and Gulager as the killers. This is an all-time great team up. Marvin is the guy in charge and Clu Gulager is the weird, crazy one. Marvin gives one of his best tough guy performances, which is saying a lot, but also was generous enough to let Clu Gulager do all kinds of business, he’s always doing some weird thing with his sunglasses or something while they’re talking to people. Lee Marvin is serious and Clu Gulager has a strange sense of humour and the combination is very intimidating. And they have no morals or scruples; and they don’t mind scaring the s*** out of some poor secretary lady or somebody. These guys are total bastards but you find yourself rooting for them.

There are many great things about this movie, but the greatest on is Lee Marvin. He is even meaner than in the film ‘Point Blank’ but equally set on his goal, and that makes for one of the all-time great death scenes when he’s trying to stumble away with the money when mortally wounded. It’s so obvious he’s not going to make it and he can barely stand up, especially with the sirens are closing in on him, but he’s not about to give up anyway and there moto is “Get rich or die trying.” It’s so convincing and it turns out the reason why this is so is because he showed up drunk that day. I don’t know if he did it on purpose but it turned out to be a totally brilliant approach, the poor guy and especially sacrificing himself for our entertainment and enjoyment of this brilliant Hollywood actor.

The film was originally an NBC TV made-for-television production and as such it feels very cheap, and the repetitive nature of telling the story in flashbacks from various characters does jar the pacing somewhat, but overall ‘The Killers’ is a sort of decent pulpy thriller which should appeal to lovers of this type of “film noir” modern day heist films and especially for hard-core fans of Tarantino films, especially the influence of this film on his work is glaringly obvious, and the Blu-ray transfer looks fantastic.

‘The Killers’ [1964] is one of those rare made for TV movies you come across that manages to completely live up to its well-deserved reputation and fires on all cylinders. While it manages to be delivering on the visceral thrill of the genre, it also rewards viewers with a host of artistic touches that elevate it to classic status. Most of all it provided a first glimpse of what Lee Marvin was truly capable of, and showed us what might have been in the form of Clu Gulager and Ronald Reagan. If you’ve never seen or heard of this film, you definitely want to purchase this stellar Arrow Academy Blu-ray disc, to compare the two films with the 1946 film ‘The Killers.’

Blu-ray Video Quality – This was originally made for the small screen and then promoted to the cinema, what we have here is two versions. As you can see from the comparison frame, the 1.33:1 aspect ratio TV friendly frame has been cropped to 1.85:1 with the original shooting bearing this eventuality in mind and framing accordingly. Both play easy on the eye, though I must say I found the 1.33:1 version a little more satisfying. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 2.0 LPCM Mono Audio track is very clear and there is a great deal of punch in the music, although of course, there is little or no separation. There are optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

High Definition digital transfer of the film by Universal Pictures, presented in alternative “Television” and “Cinema” aspect ratios.

Original uncompressed 2.0 L PCM Mono Audio.

Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Special Feature: Reagan Kills: An Interview with Writer Marc Eliot [1080p] [20:47] Interview with New York Times bestselling writer Marc Eliot, author of ‘Ronald Reagan: The Hollywood Years.’ in this new video interview, best-selling writer and author Mark Eliot discusses the life, the legacy and Hollywood image of Ronald Reagan, and the unique qualities of the 1964 film ‘The Killers’ and also the politics and liberalism comparison in Hollywood at the time. Marc Eliot applies the same criteria to Ronald Reagan as he looked very presidential, and what America thought of their President of the free world ought to look like. That's reason right there to eliminate it as any kind of criteria for power. It's fascinating to hear Reagan's excuse for starting off a Democrat and moving to the far right. It's exactly the same as Charlton Heston's; "I didn't leave the democratic party. The democratic party left me." Again for those that are interested in the politics behind Hollywood during the Ronald Reagan's era, this is a really good solid extra feature.

Special Feature: Screen Killer: Dwayne Epstein on Lee Marvin [1080p] [30:45] Interview with Dwayne Epstein, author of “Lee Marvin: Point Blank.” In this new video interview, writer and author Dwayne Epstein, discusses the life, legacy and character image of the Hollywood actor Lee Marvin, as well as the production history of the 1964 ‘The Killers.’ Lee Marvin was larger than life and some of the stories of his actions are encased in 60s and 70s amber. In other words, Marvin's behaviour would sit uncomfortably in today's hyper-celebrity culture. What's most surprising is the medical conclusion that was never reached after he was invalidated out of the Marines due to a severe war wound. Lee Marvin lived his entire career with what we now know as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” It's fascinating to know that he had the classic symptoms but just soldiered through it. Throughout the interview we get to view different archival photos, posters, stills and clips from the 1964 ‘The Killers.’

Special Feature: Don Siegel Archival Interview [1984] [480i] [4:3] [10:32] In this [sadly of poor quality] archive interview with Don Siegel from the French Television series ‘Cinéma Cinémas’ that was filmed on the 5th December 1984. In this archival video interview, Don Siegel discusses his style and directing methods, his experience as a second unit director as well as the reputation he earned for being an action director, his work with Clint Eastwood, etc. The director also recalls an interesting conversation he had with Jean-Luc Godard. Don Siegel regrets the label of 'action director' but was in no way unrealistic of where he stands professionally. I do wish he had been asked to take off his shades because there was definitely a twinkle in his eyes, that was so obvious in his very prophetic words and should have be seen to see it actually in his eyes. Seven minutes in, there is intrusive videotape damage for a minute or so. This extra has French white subtitles. The interview was conducted by Claude Ventura and Philippe Garnier. Directed by Claude Ventura.

Special Feature: Here you have a Gallery of rare behind-the-scenes images. You get to view Twenty-one stills including poster artwork and front of house cards. The stills originate from the German publicity materials. It's an interesting and fascinating extra, which sadly is not exactly overflowing with content.

BONUS: Stunning Blu-ray printed reversible sleeve featuring the original poster and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh.

BONUS: Stunning 40 page booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mike Sutton entitled “THE KILLERS” [2014]. Interesting article by Tom Milne from the publication Monthly Film Bulletin entitled “CONTEMPARY REVIEWS [1964 – 1965]. Extracts from Don Siegel’s Autobiography and Contemporary Reviews entitled “SHOOTING THE KILLERS” [1993]. Interesting article on the first purpose-made American TV movie for ‘The Killers’ entitled “PROJECTIONIST’S NOTE” [2014]. Plus “ABOUT THE TRANSFER;” “PRODUCTION NOTES” AND “SPECIAL THANKS.” You also get lots illustrated colour images from the film ‘The Killers.’

Finally, ‘The Killers’ is yet another competent release from British distributors Arrow Academy that should please fans of this made for TV 1964 film very happy. The release also comes with some outstanding good supplemental features. This is also a great transfer of the NBC TV movie that gave birth to the iconic Hollywood actor Lee Marvin and a terrific example of the workmanlike professionalism of one of America's mostly unsung directors Don Siegel. Andrew Sarris, author of “The American Cinema,” was quick to praise the credentials of the director Don Siegel, mostly by his own admission, was a director for hire who almost by chance has made some pretty important and thrilling films. Unfortunately despite this 1964 effort of ‘The Killers,’ but despite a good effort by the brilliant director Don Siegel, sadly it does not come up to the high standard Black-and-White “film noir” of the 1946 film ‘The Killers,’ starring the equally brilliant Burt Lancaster, but despite the lack of judgement and interference on behalf of NBC TV in America, in not allowing its full potential, but despite this, I am still pleased to add it to my ever increasing brilliant Arrow Academy Blu-ray Collection, so one can compare the two films. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 November 2012
The Killers is directed by Don Siegel and adapted to screenplay by Gene L. Coon from the short story written by Ernest Hemmingway. It stars Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Clu Gulager, John Cassavetes, Ronald Reagan and Claude Akins. Music is by John Williams and cinematography by Richard L. Rawlings.

Hitmen Charlie (Marvin) and Lee (Gulager) enter a school for the blind and gun down motor mechanic teacher Johnny North (Cassavetes). He doesn't resist. Why? This question bothers Charlie and he sets about finding out...

It's difficult when reading the name The Killers to not think of the 1946 film made by Robert Siodmak, a film that is revered as one of the quintessential movies of film noir. But Don Siegel's film, a re-jigging of the plot, is well worthy of consideration as quintessential neo-noir.

Originally slated to be the first made for TV movie as part of a new era for movies on television, the film was pulled by NBC for being too violent. With the film also featuring a murder by sniper scene, the recent assassination of John F. Kennedy by sniper ensured The Killers was temporarily on unsafe ground. With Ronald Reagan making his last appearance on film before moving into politics, unusually playing a villain no less, the 64 version of The Killers has a bit of history.

It's a film about double-crossing, murder and fateful yearnings, featuring amoral characters in a wonderfully constructed story that is told in flashbacks! Photographed in bright, almost garish, colours, it's very much the polar opposite to Siodmak's version, well visually at least, but it is very effective and striking, almost enhancing the lurid nature of Coon's screenplay. It's an aggressive film where the violence packs a punch, and the ending has a considerable black heart.

The cast are mostly effective. Marvin and Gulager's hitman pairing are deliberately off kilter in terms of personality, and it's these two that propel the movie forward (backwards really). Cassavetes makes interesting work as live wire dupe Johnny, Akins does good as a pal watching on helplessly as Johnny loses his life footings and Dickinson sizzles as she fatalises the femme. Weak link is Reagan, who looks ill at ease playing a tough villain type. It's no surprise to learn later on down the line that he wasn't very fond of the role.

Good quality neo-noir crafted by a man who knew how to do the real deal back in the day. 7.5/10
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on 23 April 2014
THE KILLERS (1964) BLU RAY RELEASE, ARROW FILMS
Based on the short story by Ernest Hemingway, Don Siegel’s movie was a remake of the 1946 Robert Siodmak film of the same name. Originally, the film was to be one of the first to be made for American TV; however NBC deemed the film too violent for TV and subsequently the film was shown in theatres. The move to theatres may have been considered as a blessing in disguise, as the film enjoyed some rather good reviews in America. In Europe however, it proved even more successful, in fact, in the UK, The Killers went on to receive a 1966 BAFTA for Lee Marvin in the Best Foreign Actor category. So it is with a great deal of excitement that we welcome Arrow’s new Blu Ray release of this cult classic and consider how it holds up some 50 years on.
Charlie Strom (Lee Marvin) is a cold blooded and experienced hit man. Along with his young partner Lee (Clu Gulager), we join them as they enter a suburban school for the blind. Suited smartly and wearing dark glasses, it soon becomes apparent that the nature of their visit is far from pleasant. After violently attacking the (blind) receptionist, Charlie and Lee proceed to search the corridors of the school in search of their prey Johnny North (John Cassavetes). North, a one-time big shot race driver, is now teaching car engineering at the school. Whilst North is alerted that two men are in the school and closing in on him, he makes no attempt to flee from the scene. After Charlie and Lee crash the classroom and get confirmation of their target, North stands there, unflinching in his fate – and openly receives the killers’ bullets.
It is obvious from these opening five minutes that we are witnessing something rather interesting. Firstly, there is the violence. Whilst Charlie’s attack on the blind receptionist takes place off camera, the heightened sound of her brutal attack plays havoc in the mind’s eye. The atmosphere is loaded to the max – witnessed first by Lee’s teasing tension building, the tipping of a vase of water over the her desk, the mocking gesture of his fingers in front of her blank, expressionless face. Suddenly, it becomes rather clear what may have been going through the heads of NBC bosses upon their initial viewing of the film! Secondly, Siegel cleverly employs the ‘Dutch Angle’ (or oblique angle) technique when focusing on his two hit men as they both survey the school corridors. Not only does he succeed in creating a rather unsettling POV for the audience – but arguably suggests that we are certainly observing a couple of ‘unbalanced’ characters. Originating from German expressionism in the 1920s, the procedure was (somewhat relevantly) used to depict ‘madness or unrest’ – making it a rather interesting choice of direction on Siegel’s part. Thirdly, there is Johnny North’s execution and the use of slow motion photography to showcase his death. While Sam Peckinpah (who was a protégé of Siegel) had used slow motion on TV in The Losers in 1963, Siegel’s use in The Killers is an extreme and early example of its use (particularly in such violent fashion) in American cinema.
Following on from the opening ‘hit’, Charlie and Lee are on a train, Charlie is somewhat troubled by North’s final actions, he’s never seen a man just stand there and take it. Figuring there may have been more to this than a simple hit, they decide to investigate deeper. They detour to Miami and track down North’s racing partner Earl Sylvester (Claude Akins) who spills the story of North’s involvement with the stunning Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson). From here on, the back story of a mail heist is slowly revealed involving Mickey Farmer (Norman Fell) and Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan). Reagan appears here in his last film role before taking up politics and eventually becoming governor of California in 1966. Gathering up the information and setting the pieces of the jigsaw in place, Charlie and Lee track down the individuals in order to find the missing loot and retire on the proceeds. A path of deceit, revenge and double crosses soon begins to emerge and eventually leads to a bloody climax.
Arrow’s Blu Ray release of The Killers looks far better than I could have ever imagined. It is certainly a stylish presentation, apart from a very rare blemish or dirt spec it is a very nice, clean print which also benefits from a fine level of film grain. The Black detail is fairly consistent throughout, whilst colours are vibrant (as one would expect for a title of this period), resulting in a rich, realistic pallet with beautifully detailed flesh tones. Unlike a lot of 60s films, The Killers offers little room to hide in terms of detail, there are no soft focus shots when it comes to close ups of Angie Dickinson - but it remains clear, with great depth and fine texture. Obvious composites such as back projection on the train with Charlie and Lee can look a little fuzzier, but hey, this is the 1960s and representative of everything that we’ve come to love about the period. Sound is presented in clear, uncompressed 2.0 mono PCM audio.
Because the film was originally filmed in Academy Ratio (for TV) Arrow has had the good sense to present both the 1.33:1 version and the theatrical matted 1.85:1 (16:9) version. I have to say, after watching both versions I was very impressed by the matted version. I’m usually somewhat critical of this process, as of course the 1.33:1 contains more picture information. But the framing here is really very good indeed, and naturally this is down to director Siegel. I know he was good, but really, did he know something we didn’t! Nevertheless, with Arrow including both versions on their disc, they have certainly eliminated themselves from any negative criticism – ‘should have used this, shouldn't have used that…’ so top marks for making that decision.
There are also some very nice extras including Reagan Kills: an interview with New York Times bestselling writer Marc Eliot, author of ‘Ronald Reagan: The Hollywood Years’. Then there is Screen Killer: interview with Dwayne Epstein, author of ‘Lee Marvin: Point Blank’ a very entertaining and detailed 30 minute feature. Plus there is also a rare archive interview with Don Siegel (1984) from the French television series ‘Cinéma Cinémas’ and, to round off a very nice package, there is also a gallery of rare behind-the-scenes images.
The Blu Ray comes with a reversible sleeve containing both the wonderful original artwork (contained here) and a newly commissioned design by Nathanael Marsh. Again, Arrow seems to have covered every eventuality in this department, satisfying both the purists and those open to more modern concepts. Whilst unable to give full details, there is also a booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mike Sutton, extracts from Don Siegel’s autobiography and contemporary reviews plus illustrations of original lobby cards, which I'm sure, would have been a most enjoyable read. Overall, The Killers remains both an important and incredibly powerful film that continues to flex a whole lot of muscle. Lovers of 60s Cinema, Screen heroes, Don Siegel or simply great movies in general, will certainly lap this one up. Miss it at your peril!
Darren Allison, Cinema Retro Magazine
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This recently-issued Blu-ray got my attention as it promised to present this classic crime thriller at it's best and provide some worthwhile extras.

So, now having bought and watched this Blu-ray I can say that it is a decent watch and ensures that you can enjoy the robust performances and intricate plot unfold to the utmost.

The Amazon synopsis for this film on this webpage describes the plot very well; if you read it you will hopefully realise that the significant factors associated with the production are that Don Siegel is the director and Lee Marvin is the lead 'star' - but also that it features John Cassavetes, Angie Dickinson and one Ronald Reagan (in his last theatrical film)....

[Unless you are, like me, a fan of 'oldies' such as this action/thriller you might not notice one other significant aspect ie the first few seconds of the opening music. It is EXACTLY the same passage of an imposing brass 'crescendo' that opens the similar classic (but EVEN better !) Orson Welles movie 'Touch of Evil'; it was composed by Henry Mancini, but the remaining musical soundtrack for 'The Killers' was not composed by him....]

The 'action' (ie violence) might be dated in terms of it not being very explicit, but it is still very ruthless and stark; BUT what really makes this movie is the presence of Marvin in his renowned 'tough guy' guise. I'm not convinced about his ultimate acting credentials, but what he did possess was on-screen 'presence'. I say that in the same way as I consider, for example, Sylvester Stallone or (to a lesser degree) Arnold Schwarzenegger - I always know who they are, rather than the character they are trying to portray, BUT boy do they fill the screen with their performance.

Whilst in HD this film I would think looks and sounds as good as it ever will, it is by no means without flaws. On the positive side, the picture has excellent brightness, contrast and good sharpness; BUT there are specific 'phases' where the restoration I assume exists elsewhere is partially absent - this leads to periods where the picture is blighted by those flashes of little white specks. The presence of those occasional blemishes diminishes, but does not destroy, the prevalent positive impression of this HD format.

The soundtrack has a lot of dialogue and that often thumping musical accompaniment; it is presented in a English LPCM 1.0 Mono guise, so whilst it is very clear it is obviously not at all spatial in nature.

As the film has origins as a 'TV Movie' it has a native 1:33 format, but this disc offers the option to view it in the 'later' 1:85 widescreen format - despite the presence of side black 'bars', I preferred the 1:33 format as the framing was preferable plus you see a stack more at the top/bottom....

Like 2 other Arrow releases I have ('Night of the Hunter' and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers', 1978 version) this disc offers a bonus booklet and some worthwhile extras of the featurette variety, but in comparison to those other discs the extras count is still a little 'deficient'.

Add to that the, for me, inexplicable occasional transition into visual mediocrity (courtesy of those little flashing specks) and whilst this is a terrific movie, with a dense plot and some notable performances, this release could have been even better than it is.
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on 8 January 2010
One of the best crime thriller movies that's ever been made. Lee Marvin is at his most menacing in an understated violence in keeping with the original short story by Hemmingway. Increasingly difficult and expensive to get, it is nonetheless essential viewing for anyone interested in tense and amoral drama.
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on 4 November 2011
I first saw this movie when I was still young and impressionable and boy, did Lee Marvin impress! And, watching it again after at least 45 years I was pleased to see that both Lee and the movie have stood the test of time. This is probably the kind of film that is purchased because one remembers the effect it had when first viewed and I was not disappointed with watching it again after all these years. Well made, good production values and this copy only suffers by having Danish subtitles which are a little distracting. I wish there was some way to turn them off. That aside, for those who like to remember how things were before schlock/horror became the norm this film is (for this reviewer at least) well worth a place in the dvd rack!
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The Killers is a great film, plus what a brilliant release from Arrow.

Now I could bore you about the film, but their are better reviews on amazon who can tell you better than me, so this is just a quick review about the Blu-ray. The picture quality is very nice it gets a 4/5. The sound is in 2.0 Mono, plus the screen ratio is in 1.33:1.

You get a nice little booklet with information about the film, plus a revisable sleeve.
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on 1 May 2014
This great movie was intended to be the first ever TV Movie but was deemed too violent to be shown on US TV (in the wake of the Kennedy assassination in Nov 63). It was always intended to be released abroad and indeed it was shown in UK cinemas.

Watching it these days on BD (released by Arrow Films in the UK), you can see it was a low budget movie but it truly is a classic.

'The Killers' was based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway and already had been filmed in 1946 with Burt Lancaster. The 1964 film is much, much better than the 1946 version. With Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes starring and Don (Dirty Harry) Siegel directing, it was always going to very interesting. The film has also become notable for being Ronald Reagan's last ever film role (thankfully). It was also the first movie that Lee Marvin was given top billing.

Marvin (despite being half cut, his alcoholism was getting out of control) steals this movie as one of the contract killers (Charlie Storm). He just oozes meanness and looks so cool in every shot. The scenes at the end really showcase what a quality actor Marvin was in this sort of role.

Playing Marvin's sidekick is Clu Gulager who does a really good job with an impossible role. Trying to out act and be as cool as Marvin was truly impossible in this film.

The femme fatale is played by the beautiful Angie Dickinson who gets injured racing driver Johnny North (John Cassavetes) involved in a robbery which is masterminded by arch crook and businessman Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan). Reagan is truly awful in this movie, he is wooden and totally unbelievable as a gangster. He didn't want the role but had to take it because he badly needed the money. Lee Marvin despised Reagan (they had worked together in the 50s) and enjoyed trying to make Reagan look bad in The Killers'. They would do several takes of each scene, Marvin would deliberately do something different each time to try and put Reagan off. It never worked because Reagan just said his lines like he was reading a newspaper aloud.

There is a lot of unconvincing back projection in the movie. Check out the go kart scenes. And as for the view from Reagan's office window! It is a really obvious painted backdrop. But this was a movie originally made for TV and the budget was set low accordingly. The film is mostly set in Florida but clearly filmed on the Hollywood Universal back lot standing city set and the Californian (used for Florida) countryside looks remarkably like Hazzard County. I half expected to see the General Lee.

The violence seems quite tame by today's standards but the opening scenes where Marvin and Gulager casually stroll into the school for the blind, terrorise the blind receptionist and carry out a hit is really powerful stuff.

The BD looks truly amazing (a few very minor marks on the print here and there) and I recommend this film to crime movie fans. The extras (as per usual for an Arrow release) are fantastic and very informative. 10/10.
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on 20 August 2015
This film is 4 x 3 and is rated 18 guess that's m or rated R in Australia and picture quality is very good sound is excellent has the few extras on such as interview of the stars of this film there are so many stars in this film I cannot list them
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on 24 August 2015
A classic thriller, Colour film made in 1964, it was intended as a TV movie, but was judged too brutal at the time, so was released in cinemas instead. Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager deliver great performances as the two idiosyncratic hitmen. Great evocation of a slice of 1960's America, and still hard hitting.
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