The Killers (1946)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  26 November 1946 (Argentina)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 12,774 users  
Reviews: 105 user | 82 critic

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.



(screenplay), (from the story by), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Sam Levene ...
Vince Barnett ...
Virginia Christine ...
Lilly Harmon Lubinsky
Charles D. Brown ...
Packy Robinson - Ole's Manager
Donald MacBride ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


BOLD -- because it's told the untamed HEMINGWAY WAY! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 November 1946 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Ernest Hemingway's The Killers  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The astronomy lesson in the prison cell is a disaster. Not only is the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) nowhere near Orion, but the star Betelgeuse is improperly identified as the brightest star in the sky - however, Sirius, which IS the brightest star in the sky, is close to Orion. Nonetheless, those books weren't helping out as much as thought. See more »


There were several errors involving the firearms used. When Burt robs his cohorts, the gun is obviously not real, probably rubber, because the barrel is pointed downward from the frame. If he were to shoot at someone's chest, the bullet would probably hit below the belt. When Edmond O'Brien is holding his pistol at the bad guy, he says it is a .45, but a trained eye can see that it is either a .32 or .380, most likely of Spanish origin. When Edmond asks Sam Levine if he has another .45 for him, Levine says yes, but the gun turns out to be a .38 revolver instead. See more »


Jim Reardon: How well did you know the Swede?
Charleston: Me? Mister, I guess me and the Swede were about as close as two guys can get. For nearly two years we weren't more than eight and a half feet apart. That's how big the cell was.
See more »


Featured in The Best of Film Noir (1999) See more »


With Plenty of Money and You
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played on piano in Lou Tingle's cafe
See more »

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User Reviews

Fantasia On a Theme By Ernest Hemingway
6 October 2002 | by (brighton, ma) – See all my reviews

This is a beautifully made improvisation on a Hemingway story that screenwriters Tony Veiller, John Huston and Richard Brooks, along with director Robert Siodmak, have somehow turned into baroque film noir. The movie starts out with a couple of hired gunmen looking for a character named Swede in a small New Jersey town. They tie up some people they encounter in a diner where they expect the Swede to be, then go and look for him, as he has not turned up at his usual time. A young man they tied up breaks loose and goes and warns the Swede, who thanks him but does nothing, remaining in bed, smoking a cigarette, waiting for the killers to show, which in time they do. The rest of the movie is an exploration, conducted by an insurance investigator, into the murky issue of why the Swede allowed himself to be murdered, and who ordered the killing in the first place.

I can't say the movie's exploration of the Swede's character runs deep, or even that it's satisfactory in its psychology. It works so well because it's excellently written, photographed (by Woody Bredell), and acted (by Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien and Albert Dekker, among many others), and consists of flashbacks, and in some cases flashbacks within flashbacks, as its labyrinthine plot, full of double crosses and unexpected turns, drives the film with a relentless urgency that in the end has less to do with psychology than the workings of fate. There is an overwhelming feeling in this film that people behave the way they do because they are driven by forces they cannot understand. In this sense the story in itself is, as presented, shallow and depressing, and yet the movie is so well-crafted, with the action at times seeming to be choreographed, that the end result is akin to an existential roller-coaster ride, if not much to think about.

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