The Killers (1946)

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When a gas pump attendant is executed by a pair of professional killers an insurance investigator starts digging to find out why.

One of the quintessential benchmarks of Film Noir, The Killers is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway and was the launch platform for the careers of both Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. It’s not often you’ll see a film that kills off its hero in the first 10 minutes, but the brilliant opening scenes make sure you’re hooked until the bitter end as Film Noir stalwart Edmond O’Brien unravels the events leading up to the cold-blooded assassination that is curiously almost welcomed by Lancaster. As the story is told in flashback, the brisk pace means that perhaps depth of character is sacrificed for economy but the heist, double crosses and allure of the stunning Gardner make sure your interest never wanes. Perhaps lacking the crackling chemistry of Bogart and Bacall or the razor sharp dialogue of Raymond Chandler, it’s still a gripping story involving a Femme that’s not as quite as Fatale as you’d expect from Hemingway. Or maybe that’s just my inner chump rationalising for the sake of Ava’s not inconsiderable charms.

A classic detective story and must for Film Noir aficionados.

7/10

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