The Killing (1956)


Fresh out of prison, a career criminal cooks up an ingenious scheme to rob a racetrack.

The Killing is an early film from Stanley Kubrick and yet another masterclass. He takes to the visual trappings of Film Noir and creates one of the most efficiently told and tautly directed heist films ever made. Sterling Hayden is perfect as the straight-talking, street-wise mastermind, as is Marie Windsor’s Machiavellian femme fatale who twists doomed sap Elisha Cook Jr round her little finger. So much of this film has influenced some of the best directing talent working today that it still feels remarkably contemporary; Tarantino owes much to the over-lapping timeline in particular and the mix of off beat characters, violent crime and cruel twists of fate is straight out of a Cohen brothers movie – in fact Timothy Carey actually looks the spitting image of Peter Stormare in this film. In fact the only element that dates it is the newsreel style voice over, although it does help fit the pieces of puzzle together quite well. Johnny Clay was a brilliant character whom I would have liked to have learned more about; but wishing the film was longer is hardly the most damning criticism!

Is there any genre Kubrick couldn’t do?



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