After getting out of prison, Johnny Clay masterminds a complex race-track heist, but his scheme is complicated by the intervention of the wife of a teller (George Peatty) in on the scheme, the boyfriend of the wife, airport regulations, and a small dog. Written by
Andrew Hyatt <email@example.com>
When Mike leaves for the bus station, for the flower box, the street outside his apartment is wet. When he arrives a few minutes later at the bus station, the street in front of it is dry. See more »
At exactly 3:45 on that Saturday afternoon in the last week of September, Marvin Unger was, perhaps, the only one among the hundred thousand people at the track who felt no thrill at the running of the fifth race. He was totally disinterested in horse racing and held a lifelong contempt for gambling. Nevertheless, he had a $5 win bet on every horse in the fifth race. He knew, of course, that this rather unique system of betting would more than likely result in a loss, but he didn't...
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Kubrick directed 15 odd movies in half a century (let's exclude Spartacus). His skills as an auteur may not have been recognized till Strangelove but they were on display in films like Lolita, Paths of Glory and of course The Killing, his first certified classic.
The Killing is about an intricate race-track heist involving a group of non-professionals with clean records. The mastermind, Sterling Hayden, has however spent some time in prison. The unique thing for the time is the non-linear structure of the film - particularly the heist sequence. This was probably Hayden's finest role - yes, better than Jack D. Ripper of Strangelove or Altman's The Long Goodbye - as the doomed hero, Johnny Clay. He is very tall and physical and quite brilliant in this role. He is well-supported by an old favorite of mine from The Maltese Falcon, Elisha Cook Jr. whose venomous wife, Marie Windsor plays a femme fatale of sorts. There is also the cult favorite Timothy Carey as the person assigned to shoot Red Lightning. Reservoir Dogs, a cult film inspired by The Killing is dedicated to Carey.
While The Killing is certainly noirish, it does not have the pure noir look - well, pretty much most of it is filmed in the daytime. In fact, if Kubrick was inspired, it would have been more by Hitchcock's tight pacing than by Chandler or Cain's hard-boiled dialog. The camera-work and editing are brilliant - for me even better than later Kubrick classics. Kubrick was forced to add a voice-over by the studio - something he really wasn't inclined towards. His ingenious solution was to have the VO not directly comment on the movie, but to add another layer to the films structure. It works! This film is not dated, although the Marie Windsor character is a bit one-dimensional and what is visible in the short length of the movie is the tight pacing.
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