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The Killers (1964)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 24 October 1964 (UK)
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.


(as Donald Siegel)


(story), (screenplay)

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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mickey Farmer
Miss Watson
Mail Truck Driver
George Fleming
Miss Leslie - the receptionist
Ted Jacques ...
Gym Assistant
Irvin Mosley Jr. ...
Mail Truck Guard (as Irvin Mosley)
Jimmy Joyce ...
Maître D'


A remake of The Killers (1946) which itself was inspired by the Ernest Hemingway short story. Told instead from the hitmen's point of view, the killers decide to find out why their latest victim (a race car driver) "just stood there and took it" when they came to shoot him. They also figure on collecting more money. Ronald Reagan plays a rich, double-crossing financier. Lovely Angie Dickinson plays the femme fatale. Written by Mark Logan <marklo@west.sun.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There is more than one way to kill a man! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

24 October 1964 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Ernest Hemingway's The Killers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


(Eastman Color by Pathé)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Originally a made-for-TV movie (it would have been the very first), but because of the intensity of the violence, it was released theatrically instead. See more »


When North drives his Cobra into pit row prior to the race that Sylvester recalls, in flashback, a Ford badge is clearly visible on the side. In addition, there are several other Cobras in the race, presumably with Ford badges. Later in the film, Strom states that the heist was four years ago (from 1964), and so the race depicted was even earlier than that. Carroll Shelby did not drop the first Ford V-8 and transmission into an AC Cobra until February of 1962, and Ford did not start selling them until later that year. See more »


Charlie Strom: Whoever laid this contract wasn't worried about the million dollars, and the only people that don't worry about a million dollars are the people that have a million dollars.
See more »


Referenced in American Hardcore (2006) See more »


Too Little Time
Music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Don Raye
Sung by Nancy Wilson
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The only man who isn't afraid of dying is dead already.
20 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

The Killers is directed by Don Siegel and adapted to screenplay by Gene L. Coon from the short story written by Ernest Hemmingway. It stars Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Clu Gulager, John Cassavetes, Ronald Reagan and Claude Akins. Music is by John Williams and cinematography by Richard L. Rawlings.

Hit men Charlie (Marvin) and Lee (Gulager) enter a school for the blind and gun down motor mechanic teacher Johnny North (Cassavetes). He doesn't resist. Why? This question bothers Charlie and he sets about finding out...

It's difficult when reading the name The Killers to not think of the 1946 film made by Robert Siodmak, a film that is revered as one of the quintessential movies of film noir. But Don Siegel's film, a re-jigging of the plot, is well worthy of consideration as quintessential neo-noir.

Originally slated to be the first made for TV movie as part of a new era for movies on television, the film was pulled by NBC for being too violent. With the film also featuring a murder by sniper scene, the recent assassination of John F. Kennedy by sniper ensured The Killers was temporarily on unsafe ground. With Ronald Reagan making his last appearance on film before moving into politics, unusually playing a villain no less, the 64 version of The Killers has a bit of history.

It's a film about double-crossing, murder and fateful yearnings, featuring amoral characters in a wonderfully constructed story that is told in flashbacks! Photographed in bright, almost garish, colours, it's very much the polar opposite to Siodmak's version, well visually at least, but it is very effective and striking, almost enhancing the lurid nature of Coon's screenplay. It's an aggressive film where the violence packs a punch, and the ending has a considerable black heart.

The cast are mostly effective. Marvin and Gulager's hit-man pairing are deliberately off kilter in terms of personality, and it's these two that propel the movie forward (well backwards really). Cassavetes makes interesting work as live wire dupe Johnny, Akins does good as a pal watching on helplessly as Johnny loses his life footings and Dickinson sizzles as she fatalises the femme. Weak link is Reagan, who looks ill at ease playing a tough villain type. It's no surprise to learn later on down the line that he wasn't very fond of the role.

Good quality neo-noir crafted by a man who knew how to do the real deal back in the day. 7.5/10

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