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The Killers (1964)

 -  Crime | Drama | Mystery  -  7 July 1964 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 3,995 users  
Reviews: 59 user | 38 critic

Surprised that their contract victim didn't try to run away from them, two professional hit men try to find out who hired them and why.

Director:

(as Donald Siegel)

Writers:

(story), (screenplay)
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Title: The Killers (1964)

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Sheila Farr
...
Johnny North
...
Lee
...
Earl Sylvester
...
Mickey Farmer
...
Virginia Christine ...
Miss Watson
Don Haggerty ...
Mail Truck Driver
Robert Phillips ...
George Fleming
Kathleen O'Malley ...
Miss Leslie - the receptionist
Ted Jacques ...
Gym Assistant
Irvin Mosley Jr. ...
Mail Truck Guard (as Irvin Mosley)
Jimmy Joyce ...
Salesman
Davis Roberts ...
Maître D'
Edit

Storyline

Supposedly based on the short story by Ernest Hemingway. In this film noir, two hitmen want to find out why their latest victim (a race car driver!) "just stood there and took it" when they came to shoot him. Ronald Reagan plays a rich, double-crossing bad guy. A young Angie Dickinson (looking just like Ellen Barkin) plays the femme fatale. Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There is more than one way to kill a man!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 July 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ernest Hemingway's The Killers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Don Siegel wrote his own script for the film, which he eventually handed over to Gene L. Coon to use as his own final script. See more »

Goofs

During the scene in Browning's office, part of the set casts a shadow on the background matte painting. See more »

Quotes

Earl Sylvester: I don't know where Johnny is, what trouble he got into ...
Lee: [Interrupting] He's dead!
Earl Sylvester: [as Lee smiles at him in amusement] He's dead?
Charlie Strom: [laconically] ALL the way.
See more »


Soundtracks

Too Little Time
Music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Don Raye
Sung by Nancy Wilson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

My favourite cult B-movie...
20 January 2000 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland) – See all my reviews

Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager, two contract killers, walk into a Midwest school for the blind and cold-bloodedly murder John Cassavettes. "We walk in, we put him down, we walk out," muses Marvin distractedly on the train back to Chicago. Cassavettes had the chance to run but didn't, and Marvin wants to know why.

Initially, Don Siegel's colour remake of the Ernest Hemingway story was intended as the first made-for-TV movie. Vetoed by the network for its amoral viewpoint and violence, it was released in cinemas and quickly became a cult 1960s B-movie.

Anonymous and menacing in executive suits, sunglasses and briefcase, Marvin and scene-stealing Gulager memorably personify organised crime under Siegel's expert direction. They're pure all-American evil.

True, the main plot - pieced together in flashback as the two hitmen track down the mail robbery gang led by Ronald Reagan (his last film) - is pretty routine stuff. But even that serves to heighten the threat represented by Marvin and Gulager, as they unravel the real reason for Cassavettes' deathwish.

"No one ever knows what we're talking about," mocks Gulager when femme fatale Angie Dickinson tries to act dumb. The scene in the hotelroom where the killers force her to tell is handled with a ferocious cool that is Siegel's trademark.

The Killers was still in production when Kennedy was assassinated - perhaps one reason, given its theme, why TV network ABC pulled it from their 1964 schedule. The scene where Gulager is shot down on a sunlit sidewalk even echoed the killing of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Gulager's character is called Lee).

OK, it's not a masterpiece. Even the great Don Siegel can't quite disguise a B-movie budget, a repetitious screenplay, brightly artificial colour, and exteriors that are only too obviously the Universal backlot. But it is tense and exciting, thanks to Siegel's authoritative grasp of the genre.

"I shot it in the style which I think is my style at its best," Siegel concluded later. "Very taut and lean with great economy. If I had to do it over again, I don't think I would change much."


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