HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Cryptozoo
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
Trapped
We Need to Do Something
Falbalas
Vanguard
A-X-L
Injustice
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
   
 
Newest Articles
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
   
 
  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 3247 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
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: