HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
1 chance sur 2
Betterman
Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo
Yin Yang Master, The
Hail, Mafia!
Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase
Mirai
Strange House, The
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Killers, The Out of time
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: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
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 3584 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 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
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Enoch Sneed
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: