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The Killing (1956)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  6 June 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 58,739 users  
Reviews: 354 user | 134 critic

Crooks plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.



(screenplay), (dialogue), 1 more credit »
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Top Rated Movies #248 | Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Policeman Randy Kennan (as Ted DeCorsia)
George Peatty (as Elisha Cook)
Joe Sawyer ...
Mike O'Reilly
James Edwards ...
Track Parking Attendant
Nikki Arcane
Kola Kwariani ...
Jay Adler ...
Leo the Loanshark
Tito Vuolo ...
Joe Piano
Mrs. Ruthie O'Reilly
Herbert Ellis ...
2nd American Airlines Clerk


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 <dres@uiuc.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


...Like No Other Picture Since "Scarface" and "Little Caesar"! See more »


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Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

6 June 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bed of Fear  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$320,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Stanley Kubrick formed a production company with James B. Harris, Harris-Kubrick Pictures, before making this film. Kubrick and Harris bought the rights to the Lionel White pulp novel "The Snatch" for $10,000, but found out that the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (MPPDA) Code would not allow movies to be made about the kidnapping of children, the premise of White's potboiler. White subsequently swapped the rights to his novel "Clean Break" for "The Snatch" to get them out of the predicament. United Artists had considered buying "Clean Break" as a vehicle for Frank Sinatra. "The Snatch" later was made into The Night of the Following Day (1968) in the more permissive 1960s, when the MPPDA Code had been superseded by the ratings system. See more »


When Johnny first arrives at the apartment, we see the car door open through the rear window - the scene cuts to a shot from the rear driver side of the car and we see the car door open again. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: 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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Referenced in 23:58 (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Kubrick's first classic, and still one of the greatest crime thrillers ever made.
14 January 2003 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

'The Killing' has been overshadowed by Stanley Kubrick's subsequent better known and better made movie masterpieces. Films like 'Dr. Strangelove', '2001' and 'A Clockwork Orange' are much more flamboyant and intellectually exciting than this early hard boiled crime thriller, but for my money it is still one of his most entertaining movies, and in its own modest way just as brilliant as his more talked about films. 'The Killing' is still one of the greatest crime thrillers ever made, and one which influenced many film makers working in this genre, not the least of which Quentin Tarantino, who obviously worships this picture, and used its innovative structure as major inspiration for 'Pulp Fiction'. Kubrick wrote 'The Killing's script as well as directing, but made the smart move of asking "the Dime Store Dostoevski" Jim Thompson, author of pulp classics like 'The Killer Inside Me' and 'The Getaway' to supply the fresh and memorable dialogue. Sterling Hayden, who later achieved screen immmortality as General Jack D. Ripper in 'Dr Strangelove', is perfect as ambitious small time crook Johnny Clay. He is surrounded by an almost flawless supporting cast. I qualified that because I wasn't totally convinced by Coleen Gray who plays Johnny's girlfriend. However she only really has one scene, and the rest of the cast more than makes up for her. Especially memorable are the mis-matched husband and wife played by Elisha Cook, Jr ('The House On Haunted Hill') and the sultry Marie Windsor (noir classic 'Narrow Margin'). Their scenes together are simply terrific. Also noteworthy are the two scenes featuring legendary crazy Timothy Carey ('The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie'). Carey was one of the most extraordinary performers to set foot in front of a movie character, and is unforgettable. Kubrick obviously thought highly of him as he subsequently cast him in his anti-war classic 'Paths Of Glory', a move which antagonised the movie's star Kirk Douglas. Even if 'The Killing' didn't feature such a strong performance from Sterling Hayden it would be worth watching just to catch Cook, Windsor and Carey. On top of that you have some other great actors such as Vince Edwards, an innovative script, hip dialogue and some brilliant directorial touches. This exciting heist movie can't be recommended highly enough, it's a real treat for film buffs. A brilliant film that still packs a punch after almost fifty years, something I doubt you will be saying about many movies currently showing in today's theatres. 'The Killing' is a super cool suspense movie and not to be missed!

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