HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
Beats
Body Parts
Shock of the Future, The
Friday
High Life
High Noon
Comes a Horseman
Scandal in Paris, A
Greta
Fight, The
Pink Jungle, The
Skiptrace
Double Date
Mind of Mr. Soames, The
Long Shot
Sherlock Holmes
Amazing Grace
Monitors, The
Memory: The Origins of Alien
Mesa of Lost Women
Banana Splits Movie, The
In Fabric
Sisters Brothers, The
Aniara
Flamingo Kid, The
Queen, The
Avengers: Endgame
Vanishing Act
   
 
Newest Articles
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
   
 
  Killers, The Out of timeBuy this film here.
Year: 1964
Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Clu Gulager, Ronald Reagan, Claude Akins, Norman Fell, Virginia Christine, Don Haggerty, Robert Phillips, Kathleen O’Malley
Genre: Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Professional hitmen Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) bust into a school for the blind and rub out auto-mechanics teacher Johnny North (John Cassavetes), who meekly accepts his fate. This puzzles Charlie. What could make a man give up his life so easily? Intrigued by this mystery and getting their hands on the million dollars Johnny was reputed to have stolen, the two killers interrogate various characters from his past. Gradually they piece together the sorry story of how a successful racecar driver got suckered into an armed robbery orchestrated by mobster Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan), thanks to his involvement with seductive femme fatale Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson).

Don Siegel was the original choice of producer Mark Hellinger to direct the superb original version of The Killers (1946) but, because Warner Brothers would not lend him to Universal, had to wait eighteen years for a chance to deliver his take on Ernest Hemingway’s short story. Siegel’s version was made for television under his preferred title: Johnny North but bumped to theatrical release after the Kennedy assassination brought a moritorium on violence on the small screen. Critically despised on first release and still arguably a lesser work compared with Robert Siodmak’s film, the 1964 Killers is now widely considered a pivotal crime thriller. Siegel’s stark and brutal depiction of a dog-eat-dog amoral world convinced fans such as Michael Reeves, the tragically short-lived British wunderkind behind Witchfinder General (1968), he was the greatest filmmaker in the world. Besides establishing Siegel as a cineaste hero, the film marked a key point in the evolution of Lee Marvin’s screen persona from scene-stealing villain to leading man. His charismatic performance here was more or less a dry run for his iconic role in Point Blank (1967).

Although Siegel claimed he did not want to lift any scenes from the original nor use any of Hemingway’s dialogue, aside from a few cosmetic changes his film is a fairly close remake. Shot in broad daylight with heady comic book colours in place of Siodmak’s shadowy noir nightmare, the TV-level budget shows through in overused stock footage and some cramped sets, yet the violence is quite jarringly brutal right from the opening scene where the hitmen menace a blind secretary (Virginia Christine, who played the Swede’s jilted girlfriend in the 1946 version, making an interesting cameo). Screenwriter Gene L. Cohn retains the original mulitiple narrator story structure but crafts his own distinctively snappy dialogue. Siegel fashions the film in a manner highlighting the symmetrical nature of its plot, opening with a game of “shoot-’em-up” between two little boys that foreshadows Charlie’s final gesture to the police and replaying variations on the key line: “I don’t have the time” to underline its fatalism.

Of course the most notable diversion from the original plot is the removal of the insurance insvestigator hero, as the killers themselves probe the mystery of why Johnny North gave up the ghost. Thus, by the movie’s end, moral order has not been re-established but rather an existential puzzle is solved, memorably, if bleakly surmised by Charlie: “The only man that is not afraid to die, is a man who is already dead.” Quirky and sadistically playful, stone-faced Marvin and sneering Clu Gulager are so compelling they tip the balance too far towards the killers, leaving the flashbacks to Johnny North’s story dull by comparison, when they are meant to be the heart of the story. Things aren’t much improved by John Cassavetes oddly diffident performance, which makes Johnny seem like a broken shell of a man even in his racing driver heyday, although Angie Dickinson - whose tight outfits alarmed TV executives as much as the violence - is up to the task. Sheila seems to feel more for Johnny than Kitty Collins did for the Swede, sticking by him even after the accident till spurned and driven back to Browning. Which makes her late hour unveiling as an amoral bitch all the more cruel, if slightly perplexing. Also credible - and surprisingly so - is Ronald Reagan giving his best performance in his last role before becoming governer of California and starting on the road towards president of the United States. Features a great bossa nova jazz score by John Williams although the theme song by Henry Mancini was lifted from Touch of Evil (1958).

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2231 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Don Siegel  (1912 - 1991)

Respected American director, a former editor, whose action thrillers were second to none. He started out in lower budget movies like The Big Steal, Riot in Cell Bock 11 and The Lineup but come the sixties he started making higher profile work such as the remake of The Killers and Madigan. His fruitful partnership with Clint Eastwood gave us Dirty Harry and Escape from Alcatraz, among others. Another of his finest 1970s films was Charley Varrick.

Siegel had small acting roles in Play Misty for Me and Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers - he had directed the classic original in the 1950s.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
  Derrick Smith
   

 

Last Updated: