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This is a bad joke without a punch line.,
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This review is from: The Killing [DVD] (DVD)
The Killing is directed by Stanley Kubrick who co-adapts to screenplay with Jim Thompson from the novel Clean Break written by Lionel White. It stars Sterling Hayden, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen and Coleen Gray. Music is by Gerald Fried and cinematography by Lucien Ballard.
Ex-con Johnny Clay (Hayden) has a plan to make a killing at the racetrack, with some special inside help he plots to nab $2 million in an intricate robbery. It looks a good thing, the right people are in place, but there's a potential spanner in the works in the shapely form of Sherry Peatty (Windsor), the unfaithful and devious wife of one of the robbers.
Cheaply made by Kubrick and his producer partner James B. Harris, The Killing is a lean and mean mid 50's film noir. Poorly received at the box office and met with indifference by critics on its release, it's a film that has come to be noted as hugely influential; more so as Kubrick's reputation grew over the passing years. Clocking in at under 85 minutes, film is told in a fractured narrative structure that at the time was viewed as an oddity. Story is constructed around crosscut flashbacks as the robbery is planned and then executed, Kubrick's direction as meticulous as the actual robbery itself. It's not hard to understand why confusion was an issue back on its release, but now it comes off as something of a masterstroke. Even if Kubrick was forced to tinker with the final product, adding in a voice-over to aid those troubled by the nonlinear narrative (which the director despised).
In spite of some problems, such as the cheapo sets and some stiff performances from secondary characters, The Killing is quintessential film noir. With Kubrick thriving on shooting his characters in cramped surroundings, the use of angles very effective, and Ballard photographing superbly for the low-key interiors, mood is perfectly set. Story is filled out with hapless characters, where destinies are defined by greed, betrayal and the devils trump card, that of bad luck. As is normally the case with the best film noir, it's a dame who holds the key to misery here. Sherry Peatty (Windsor excellent) is cold and utterly bitch like, and having a hold over her cuckolded husband George (Cook Junior never better) that would be easy to detest were it not for the fact George is so pitifully weak. From that coupling bursts a doom and bleakness that underpins the story, rendering the film with a fatalistic sheen.
The Killing does have a dated feel to it, but only slightly so. While there's no denying that the budgetary restrictions, the voice-over and some less than good performances, stop this being the masterpiece of the crime genre some want us to believe it is. It is however a damn fine film, tense, exciting and very compelling, it does warrant a place on a favourite list of any self respecting film noir fan. 8/10