A vicious Kansas City slaughterhouse owner and his hick family are having a bloody "beef" with the Chicago crime syndicate over profits from their joint illegal operations. Top enforcer Nick Devlin is sent to straighten things out.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs Film Noir Festival. Not really Film Noir as it was made after the genre had passed and is in color and features no detectives or private eyes and not even a film as it was originally intended as the very first made-for-television movie. Produced by Universal's Revue Studios it was deemed too violent for television. It of course isn't too violent by today's standards and NBC censors did call for revisions of the movie and since there are only a few questionable scenes It could have been easily done but they left it as was and it didn't make it's May of 1964 television premier. Instead it went to theaters and drive ins in July of 1964. Long-time film and television director Don Siegel directs. His most noted work would still come late in his career with Clint Eastwood in "Coogan's Bluff", "Two Mules for Sister Sara", "The Beguiled", "Dirty Harry" and "Escape From Acatraz" and John Wayne in "The Shootist" and Charles Bronson in "Telefon." This film is as different from the 1946 film as that film is as different from the short story by Earnest Hemingway that both film borrow from. The 1946 film is noted for being Burt Lancaster's first film role and the 1964 film is noted for being Ronald Reagan's last film role. Seasoned hit-man Charlie Storm (Lee Marvin) and young enforcer sidekick Lee (Clu Gulager) have been hired for larger than usual fee to knock off a retired professional race car driver who now teaches shop class in a school for the blind. A series of flashbacks tell the story of Johnny North (John Cassavetes) and his mechanic Earl Sylvester (Claude Akins) and the femme fatale Sheila Farr (Angie Dickenson) who comes into their lives. Sheila is the kept woman of mobster Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan) whose gang includes Mickey Farmer (Norma Fell) and George Flemming (Robert Phillips). Also in the cast are a couple of familiar and wonderful character television actors in small support roles with Kathleen O'Malley and Burt Mustin. Music score by John Williams when he was a contract composer before he made it big the film also features a Henry Mancini song "Too Little Time" with an on screen performance by jazz singer Nancy Wilson. Screenplay adaptation by Gene L. Cook and director Siegel this deserves a look especially from it's great cast and historical perspective. It keeps flowing pretty smoothly and never bogs down. Cassavetes seems uncomfortable in the role and their really isn't much on screen chemistry between he and Dickenson but Dickenson is delicious as the femme fatale and Marvin and Gulager, especially Gulager's smooth wit, are great as the hit team. Angie Dickenson was on hand at the screening for an audience Q&A following the film and it was great to see her. I liked this and would give this an 7.5 out of 10.
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