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The Killing [DVD]
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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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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a lot about them because the movie has an unusually convulted narrative structure, which was ahead of its time albeit outdated today.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.Read more ›
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 !!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Popularly regarded as the film that established his reputation as a cinematic force to be reckoned with, Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 'noir heist’ still impresses with its brilliant... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Keith M
kubricks first movie for a major studio and he made it his way.one heist that you will be wanting to succeed.
kubrick!what more to be said.
Fine taut early thriler by Stanley Kubrick in which an ingenious plan to rob the racetrack of a fortune in takings goes awry as a reult of the merest chance.Published 13 months ago by Giovanni