A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Johnny Farrell is a gambling cheat who turns straight to work for an unsettling casino owner Ballin Mundson. But things take a turn for Johnny as his alluring ex-lover appears as Mundson's wife, and Mundson's machinations begin to unravel.
Two professional killers invade a small town and kill a gas station attendant, "the Swede," who's expecting them. Insurance investigator Reardon pursues the case against the orders of his boss, who considers it trivial. Weaving together threads of the Swede's life, Reardon uncovers a complex tale of treachery and crime, all linked with gorgeous, mysterious Kitty Collins. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In-joke: In the scene towards the end of the film where Edmond O'Brien arranges to meet Ava Gardner outside a nightclub, O'Brien stands on the street in front of the club, waiting for Gardner to drive up. On the wall behind him is a poster, beginning with "Sir Arthur Hilton presents..." Arthur Hilton, an Englishman, was the film's editor. See more »
In the jail house scene, Charleston (Vince Barnett) tells The Swede (Burt Lancaster) of his love for the stars. As he looks out the window, he says that he says he sees Orion and a prominent star, Betelgeuse. He says that Orion is the "Great Bear" and that Betelgeuse is the "brightest star in the sky." Orion is actually The Hunter. Ursa Major (containing the Big Dipper) is the Great Bear. Betelgeuse, while quite bright, is actually the 9th brightest star. See more »
Why did you ever go back to him, Kitty?
Maybe because I hate him. I'm poison, Swede, to myself and everybody around me! I'd be afraid to go with anyone I love for the harm I do to them! I don't care harming him!
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You can scan thru many publications and they will tell you that Robert Siodmark's adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's story The Killers is quintessential noir, and whilst I haven't seen enough of the perceived classics to make a sound judgement, I do understand why this one ranks so high.
Perfectly directed by Siodmark because it is washed with a moody ambiance that befits the script, the main players in the piece are bang on form to realise the mood and sombre tempo that makes the film a winner. The story basically revolves around Burt Lancaster's Swede Anderson who upon learning that hired killers are out to fulfil a contract on him, promptly stays horizontal on his bed and awaits his fate. We then follow Edmond O'Brien's insurance investigator Jim Reardon as (thru a series of flashbacks) he reconstructs Swede's life and what caused his demise.
The story encompasses one of film noir's most well known femme fatales in Ava Gardner's foxy Kitty Collins, and it's certainly the film's driving force as we observe her part in Swede's life, for better or worse as it were, but ultimately it's the classy framing of the film that marks it out as essential viewing. It's oppressive, it's almost stifling, and it's certainly story telling of the highest order, but mainly it just looks so fecking gorgeous you feel privileged to have been part of it. 9/10
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