Crook Johnny Clay assembles a five man team to plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.


Stanley Kubrick


Stanley Kubrick (screenplay by), Jim Thompson (dialogue by) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sterling Hayden ... Johnny Clay
Coleen Gray ... Fay
Vince Edwards ... Val Cannon
Jay C. Flippen ... Marvin Unger
Ted de Corsia ... Patrolman Randy Kennan (as Ted DeCorsia)
Marie Windsor ... Sherry Peatty
Elisha Cook Jr. ... George Peatty (as Elisha Cook)
Joe Sawyer ... Mike O'Reilly
James Edwards ... Track Parking Attendant
Timothy Carey ... Nikki Arcane
Kola Kwariani ... Maurice Oboukhoff
Jay Adler ... Leo the Loanshark
Tito Vuolo ... Joe Piano
Dorothy Adams ... Ruthie O'Reilly
Herbert Ellis Herbert Ellis ... Second American Airlines Clerk


After just being released from a five year stint in prison, Johnny Clay has assembled a five man team, including two insiders, to carry out what he estimates will be a $2 million heist at Lansdowne Racetrack, that take, minus expenses, to be split five ways. Besides Johnny, none of the men truly are criminals in the typical sense. In addition to the other four team members, Johnny has hired two men external to the team to carry out specific functions for a flat fee, the other four who will not meet the two men for hire or know who they are, while the two men for hire will not be told of the bigger picture of the heist. None involved are to tell anyone, even their loved ones, about the job, each of the five who has a specific reason for wanting his share of the money: Johnny, in wanting to get married to his longtime girlfriend Fay, the two who have known each other since they were kids, realizes that to live comfortably, he has to shoot for the moon instead of carrying out the penny ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Suspense! Terror! Violence! Will grip you as no other picture since "Scarface" and "Little Ceasar"! See more »


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Did You Know?


The location where John Clay (Sterling Hayden) proposes the deal to Maurice Oboukhoff (Kola Kwariani) is a mock-up of the 42nd Street Chess and Checker Parlor in New York City. Director Stanley Kubrick was a regular chess player there, as was Kola. See more »


When the parking lot attendant hands Nikki a horse shoe, he holds the round part in one shot and the end in the next. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: At exactly 3:45 on that Saturday afternoon in the last week of September, Marvin Unger was, perhaps, the only one among the hundred thousand people at the track who felt no thrill at the running of the fifth race. He was totally disinterested in horse racing and held a lifelong contempt for gambling. Nevertheless, he had a $5 win bet on every horse in the fifth race. He knew, of course, that this rather unique system of betting would more than likely result in a loss, but he didn't...
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Referenced in Life (2017) See more »

User Reviews

The Thick, Pulpy Roots of Modern Heist Epics
20 January 2012 | by drqshadow-reviewsSee all my reviews

Stanley Kubrick's coming-out party from the mid '50s is a startlingly accurate prediction of film's future. By way of a non-linear narration and a few remarkably fresh transitions, Kubrick adds considerable weight and magnitude to a tangled heist tale and its focus on the crooks behind a slick, daring stickup of the local racetrack. Confused by the film's radical new approach to storytelling, test audiences hated the first cut, leading to studio meddling and an almost-complete disintegration of its marketing budget. Kubrick fought back, though, and with the obvious exception of a horribly heavy-handed deadpan narration, the finished product seems virtually untouched. Concerned mostly with the planning and hand-wringing before the big theft, The Killing tensely builds anticipation throughout before finally boiling over in a machine gun-paced robbery scene, terse payoff and all-too-brief elaboration on the major players' ultimate fates. Acceptably acted at best, the real stars of this picture are the complex plot and the harvest of fresh ideas going on behind the lens. A clear inspiration for Tarantino's big hits of the '90s, it's a daring and stylish major market debut for the famed director that hints at the lengths his development would ultimately take the medium.

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Release Date:

6 June 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bed of Fear See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »


Box Office


$320,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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