7.8/10
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The Killers (1946)

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director:

Robert Siodmak

Writers:

Anthony Veiller (screenplay), Ernest Hemingway (from the story by)
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Ole 'Swede' Anderson
Ava Gardner ... Kitty Collins
Edmond O'Brien ... Jim Reardon
Albert Dekker ... Big Jim Colfax
Sam Levene ... Police Lt. Sam Lubinsky
Vince Barnett ... Charleston
Virginia Christine ... Lilly Harmon Lubinsky
Jack Lambert ... 'Dum-Dum' Clarke
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... Packy Robinson - Ole's Manager
Donald MacBride ... R.S. Kenyon
Charles McGraw ... Al
William Conrad ... Max
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Storyline

Two professional killers invade a small town and kill a gas station attendant, "the Swede," who's expecting them. Insurance investigator Reardon pursues the case against the orders of his boss, who considers it trivial. Weaving together threads of the Swede's life, Reardon uncovers a complex tale of treachery and crime, all linked with gorgeous, mysterious Kitty Collins. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Screen's All-Time Classic Of Suspense! (1956 re-release) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 August 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ernest Hemingway's The Killers See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's appeal derives from breaking the traditional narrative structure by using a number of flashbacks, similar to Double Indemnity (1944) and Mildred Pierce (1945). See more »

Goofs

In the jail house scene, Charleston (Vince Barnett) tells The Swede (Burt Lancaster) of his love for the stars. As he looks out the window, he says that he says he sees Orion and a prominent star, Betelgeuse. He says that Orion is the "Great Bear" and that Betelgeuse is the "brightest star in the sky." Orion is actually The Hunter. Ursa Major (containing the Big Dipper) is the Great Bear. Betelgeuse, while quite bright, is actually the 9th brightest star. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Sam Lubinsky: Don't ask a dying man to lie his soul into Hell.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Stars of the Silver Screen: Ava Gardner (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

The More I Know of Love
(1946)
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Lyrics Jack Brooks
Performed by Ava Gardner (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Siodmak, Lancaster's first pairing is one of noir's central masterpieces
4 January 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

The Killers marked Burt Lancaster's screen debut, establishing the stoic persona that would sustain his long and luminous career. Along with Criss Cross (also starring Lancaster), The Killers also records the high-water mark of Robert Siodmak's work in film noir.

Starting with a Hemingway short story (the retelling of which constitutes only the prologue to the film), The Killers endeavors to fill in the "back story" which Hemingway left to his readers' imaginations. That back story explains why the "Swede" (Lancaster) passively, almost eagerly, awaits the nasty pair of torpedoes (William Conrad, Charles McGraw) who have come to hunt him down. The germ of this recreation is Lancaster's small, solitary bequest -- to a chambermaid in an Atlantic City hotel where he had once stayed. Insurance investigator Edmond O'Brien catches the scent of something unusual and can't let it go. His investigations, helped by an old buddy of Lancaster's who is now a police lieutenant (Sam Levene), uncover a botched stint as a prizefighter; a smouldering yet duplicitous temptress (Ava Gardner), and a payroll heist that ended in an elaborate double cross.

Siodmak, having disposed of the end right at the outset, takes a circuitous route through his telling by using a fragmented series of flashbacks. Paradoxically -- much as the false starts and averted climaxes in a Bruckner symphony pay off handsomely in the end -- the story thus gains depth and momentum. Woody Bredell's dark and meticulous cinematography fulfills Siodmak's vision, resulting in one of the central masterpieces of the noir cycle.


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