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 <email@example.com>
Finnish censorship certificate # 69710 delivered on 29-3-1968. See more »
While the gang is going over the heist plot in the garage, Jack stands up and slaps Sheila with his right hand across her left cheek. When she recovers from nearly falling over, she holds her right cheek. In another shot soon after, she is nursing her bruised left cheek. See more »
Directed by Don Siegel ("Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Dirty Harry," etc.), THE KILLERS was originally conceived as the first "made for TV movie." Filming began in late 1963 and sometime during production, JFK was assassinated in Dallas. (Don Siegel notes in his autobiography that word about JFK's murder came down to them while on the set. They were in the middle of shooting a scene with John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson. When Angie was told the news she collapsed in a dead faint; she--according to Siegel and many others- -was having an on and off affair with the President at the time.)
Upon completion of the film in early '64, NBC deemed it "too violent" for television and Universal quickly rushed it into theaters that summer in a desperate attempt to squirm out of a potentially controversial and embarrassing situation. Relatively few people saw it back in 1964. It's reputation as a taut, exciting crime film didn't come about until several years later, once it began turning up (ironically) on television.
The film itself is fascinating for many reasons. Siegel (and his screenwriter Gene Coon) completely reworked the concept by accentuating the importance of the hit men (Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager); Marvin's insistence on knowing why a man (John Cassavetes in the Burt Lancaster role) would accept his fate so passively becomes the wheel on which the entire film spins. Angie Dickinson is fantastic and alluring as the femme fatale, and while she's no Ava Gardner (who is?) she does a great job in the role.
But it is none other than soon-to-be Governor RONALD REAGAN who almost steals the show as the sadistic crime boss. Again, according to Siegel, Reagan came out of retirement to do this film (against his better judgment; he had never appeared as an out and out bad guy before) but Siegel talked him into it--very much to Reagan's subsequent chagrin. Reagan, it turns out, is brilliant in the role, perhaps a little too much so; he's chillingly believable as a cold, ruthless criminal. The very summer this film was in theaters, Ronnie was delivering the keynote address at the Republican National Convention. Two years later he would be the Governor of California. It's no wonder, really, that for many years (particularly during Reagan's presidency) this film was curiously absent from repertory theater screens and television showings. It wasn't until Reagan left office in early 1989 that THE KILLERS began to creep back into public view. CHECK IT OUT!! The film is a stone cold gem!!
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