HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Undergods
Betrayed
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
Cowboys
Atlantis
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Nomadland
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Threshold
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
   
 
Newest Articles
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
   
 
  Killers, The Most fatale of all femmes
Year: 1946
Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levene, Vince Barnett, Virginia Christine, Jack Lambert, Charles D. Brown, Donald MacBride, Charles McGraw, William Conrad
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 2 votes)
Review: Two professional killers, Al (Charles McGraw) and Max (William Conrad, star of Seventies cop show Cannon), invade a small town and murder unprotesting gas station attendant Ole “the Swede” Andreson (Burt Lancaster). Insurance investigator Jim Riordan (Edmond O'Brien) is puzzled why the Swede gave up his life so willingly. Probing this mystery, Riordan uncovers the sorry story of how the Swede went from washed-up prizefighter to wrongly convicted criminal, pulled off a payroll robbery with a gang of mismatched miscreants and wound up a patsy thanks to the machinations of deliciously duplicitous femme fatale, Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner).

Based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, The Killers ranks among the archetypal examples of that favourite genre among cineastes: film noir. These days it has become all too common to label any classic crime thriller, detective story or heist picture from the Forties or early Fifties as film noir. Most of these are terrific films, but only a handful truly encapsulate the unique tone of film noir and The Killers is undoubtedly one of them. Many mystery buffs have noted the plot’s immediate flaw given it is unlikely any professional hitman would blab about their intention to kill the Swede, especially to innocent bystanders, but none of that really matters. This film is pure poetry from start to spellbinding finish.

Adapted for the screen by Anthony Veiller, with uncredited input from writer-director John Huston, the killer combination of sharp scripting, sublime direction from thriller master Robert Siodmak (for whom film noir was the next logical step after a run of superbly atmospheric gothic horror movies), vivid characters inhabited by a pitch perfect cast and gorgeous velvety black and white cinematography by the underrated Elwood Bredell combine to craft a palpable aura of doomed romanticism, set in a fatalistic universe of dumb lugs, wisecracking killers and alluring yet amoral femme fatales. This was Burt Lancaster’s first film. Right off the bat he had star billing. Lancaster gives an uncanny performance, going in reverse from a haunted, broken, shell of man to the muscular dupe, yet he isn’t in the film all that much. Our actual hero is essayed by the equally compelling Edmond O'Brien, who pieces the Swede’s life together from details fed by multiple narrators, including the ravings of a dying, demented criminal.

Both the snappy characterisation of the almost playfully menacing killers (“You got a lot of luck, bright boy”) and the layered flashbacks told in reverse chronological order anticipate the kind of story structure Quentin Tarantino made fashionable some five decades later. Siodmak seeps almost the entire film in shadows and fog drawing upon his German Expressionist days, save for the masterfully handled payroll robbery shot in broad daylight which some critics claim established the security camera aesthetic found in modern heist thrillers. Also influential was the film’s gruelling boxing scene that perhaps stands as the film’s defining metaphor given the Swede leads the life of a human punching bag, too punch drunk in love to recognise the lurking doom embodied by Kitty Collins.

While it is fair to say Barbara Stanwyck essayed the best scripted of all femme fatales in Double Indemnity (1944), one would argue that along with Veronica Lake in This Gun for Hire (1942), Ava Gardner embodies what many would picture as the archetypal film noir antiheroine. Luscious in an iconic figure-hugging, black satin dress that seems painted on, Gardner turns a simple “hello” into a showstopping entrance. The screen goddess was often dismissive of her own acting abilities, but the fact is she sketches an indelible characterisation as the frightening yet irresistible Kitty Collins, who memorably snarls “Touch me and you won’t live till morning” at lesser villain Big Jim Colfax (Albert Dekker). This Kitty has claws. Interestingly, producer Mark Hellinger’s first choice to direct the film was Don Siegel, who made his directing debut the same year. Eighteen years later, Siegel got the chance to deliver his own version of The Killers (1964).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2001 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: