One of my five favorite Kubrick films - gets better every time (by Quinoa1984)
At the age of 27, Stanley Kubrick's third film, The Killing, took Lionel White's hard-boiled, non-linear story of one man Johnny Clay, with quick-talking, straightforward ease by Sterling Hayden and his crew planning and tasking a race-track robbery. It's almost fifty years old, but by this time Kubrick intently defined his style, and somehow the film seems to have themes and characters that are identifiable and recognizable with any period. The supporting characters are as sharply drawn and psychologically involving if not more so than Johnny Clay. Driving us into this <more>
world of schemers shouldn't be dense, and as Kubrick passes by any pretense - and keeps the compositions and material entertaining and absorbing - and it allows a viewer a lot of promise on repeat viewings.While the story elements are similar to the sort of Kubrick-movie psychology mostly dealing with men who are head deep in a rather existential crisis of what's against society , what's unique is how the craft is intuitive. On a low budget, and even with a cast that's very good if not excellent, everything is always assured in the style and turns grinding in the plot. I could watch this movie another two times after three in the past two years or so and still see shots so detailed yet with the tone that of the most inspired film-noirs. It's questionable as to where Kubrick got influence for some of the compositions, with usage of shadows and the dark and light shades too , but whether or not it was some famous expressionist or from the 40's film-noirs, the mark of Kubrick uncurling as an artist is evident. One remark by some is that the narration is sometimes irritating, that the kind of B-movie police drama expository tone, and the information is too much. The voice is not my favorite part of the film, but the narration itself, the information, is an interesting mold in the film's structure. It adds on a layer to that existentialist subtext, as every description makes it sounds like the narrator's a reporter looking back on the past events with a detached objectivity. For me, this did make it a little much to concentrate on in the first viewing, however this is a film that demands un-thwarted attention for it's 83 minutes. If you turn away for too long, a piece of the puzzle will be out of sight. It's a great film, and it's gone on to inspire a flock of homagers and imitators in the last half century. A+
Everything about this movie fascinates me. Even the unexpected ending has a compelling and unique flavor to it. Sure, it looks like many crime dramas of the 50's. But we are talking about of a movie with a director of the prodigious talents of Stanley Kubrick.Sometimes you wonder which genre Kubrick could not have handled brilliantly. He seems to know exactly what to do in such a wide variety of movies...Crime, Drama, War, Surreal, Historical Epic, Science Fiction and Black Comedy. My only wish would have been if Kubrick could have made MORE movies. When he died, that left only Woody <more>
Allen as the only major director who is working as a pure artist in the film medium. THE KILLING is filled with crime-noir touches that form an absorbing whole that is hard to beat. The acting is top-notch, the scenes are set in gold taking from every crime movie and creating a whole that could not have been done so well by just any director - perhaps only Hitchcock could have pulled this off. Then there's the jazzy score that underlines the action which punch and atmosphere that just curdles off the screen.Even if you're not a Kubrick fan which might surprise many people when they find out he was the director you will enjoy this movie.Right to the end...which I won't reveal...but has an inevitability written with classical balance and a submission to fate that leaves a wry smile on your face.Sterling Hayden is great in this role and he populates this character with just the right sort of mystery to keep you guessing until the end.Recommended without reservation.
Wow, a superb final film noir of that era (by felixoscar)
Boy was this a surprise! Although I have been watching films for over 40 years, and had indeed heard of this movie, this was my first encounter, wow! When done well, there is no other genre that satisfies as film noir and this one was aces. Frankly, don't jump all over me, but I had considered Kubrick quite over-rated, never a big fan of Dr Strangelove saw it first at way too young age, then ten years ago, and recently ... sorry, did nothing for me . On the other hand, in high school watched in awe 2001:A Space Odyssey, a long awaited film that was not very well received by critics, but <more>
adored by yours truly. Sure Kubrick gave us the the overlong, but incredible cast in Spartacus, the dazzling but uneven A Clockwork Orange, and so on. But for me, I'll take Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, WilliamWyler, even peak Spielberg,and many others over Kubrick.But with this low budget masterwork, I may have to think again. Too bad more 50's movies did not gamble by assembling a cast like this one! And although Philip Marlowe has been brilliantly done by Bogie and Mitchum and yes, Dick Powell, I wonder how Sterling Hayden might have tackled the role. Marie Windsor was overlooked for an Oscar nomination here, and Elisha Cook dazzling. Kudos to everyone and this precocious 27 year old director.Even better than Asphalt Jungle ... but, alas, why did we have to wait almost twenty years, and Technicolor, to deliver another film noir of this brilliance ... Chinatown of course!
Director Stanley Kubrick is best known for "2001: A Space Odyssey." "A Clockwork Orrange" or "The Shining" but I always found this to be my favorite of his films. This is film noir at some of its best: a tight no-nonsense story with tragic consequences, some of the best film noir actors in the business and great cinematography, which looks even better on DVD.Sterling Hayden is the gang leader in this heist film and the big man was up to the task as he usually was in these kind of crime films. He wasn't as rough a character as he was in "Asphalt <more>
Jungle," but his role reminded me of that film.What made this movie so appealing to me were four very interesting character actors: Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor, Kola Kwariani and Ted de Corsia. Few people had those loser-type film noir characters down pat as well as the tough-talking Windsor and the meek and wimpy Cook. They played a husband-and-wife team here: that's film noir heaven!Kwariani plays a burley chess-playing wrestler who fights six cops at one time and Carey is a long-distance racist rifleman who talks through clenched-teeth and shoots a racehorse! As I said, some very interesting characters here. And, oh yeah.....for you over-55 readers, there's Vince Edwards, alias Dr. Ben Casey of TV fame, as a Windsor's young adulterer boyfriend trying to horn in on the money from the robbery.This film is full of surprises and always fun to watch.
Kubrick directed 15 odd movies in half a century let's exclude Spartacus . His skills as an auteur may not have been recognized till Strangelove but they were on display in films like Lolita, Paths of Glory and of course The Killing, his first certified classic.The Killing is about an intricate race-track heist involving a group of non-professionals with clean records. The mastermind, Sterling Hayden, has however spent some time in prison. The unique thing for the time is the non-linear structure of the film - particularly the heist sequence. This was probably Hayden's finest role - <more>
yes, better than Jack D. Ripper of Strangelove or Altman's The Long Goodbye - as the doomed hero, Johnny Clay. He is very tall and physical and quite brilliant in this role. He is well-supported by an old favorite of mine from The Maltese Falcon, Elisha Cook Jr. whose venomous wife, Marie Windsor plays a femme fatale of sorts. There is also the cult favorite Timothy Carey as the person assigned to shoot Red Lightning. Reservoir Dogs, a cult film inspired by The Killing is dedicated to Carey.While The Killing is certainly noirish, it does not have the pure noir look - well, pretty much most of it is filmed in the daytime. In fact, if Kubrick was inspired, it would have been more by Hitchcock's tight pacing than by Chandler or Cain's hard-boiled dialog. The camera-work and editing are brilliant - for me even better than later Kubrick classics. Kubrick was forced to add a voice-over by the studio - something he really wasn't inclined towards. His ingenious solution was to have the VO not directly comment on the movie, but to add another layer to the films structure. It works! This film is not dated, although the Marie Windsor character is a bit one-dimensional and what is visible in the short length of the movie is the tight pacing.
This is seemingly the most exhilarating and uplifting movie I have ever seen. I go away from it strengthened and encouraged for the task or lonely road ahead. I know it would be wrong to identify with the protagonist, Johnny Clay, but I certainly sympathize with him. It may be indicative of some baseness in my character. I don't know or much care after the movie is over. His terrible downfall is, oddly, an upper rather than a downer for me. My only difficulty is rather too much exhilaration, and I need to be brought back down to earth after the curtain falls maybe by some silliness that <more>
serves to remind me of the pointless futility of human endeavor. Oddly, "The Killing" does just the opposite. Go figure. The casting and narration and direction are superb. I've read a criticism that the actress playing Johnny's girl friend is weak or miscast. I disagree. I think she's perfect for the part and lends a great verisimilitude to it as well as other qualities that are crucial to the overall effect of the story on me. I don't have a favorite movie anymore but I'd go see this one again if I were lucky enough to be able to see it in a theater, where it should be seen. The movies being made today usually ain't worth mentionin'.
One of the most skillful and entertaining suspense movies of the Fifties (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
The formidably promising talent shown in "Killer's Kiss" helped to secure for Stanley Kubrick studio backing for his next straight thriller, "The Killing," made in 1956 This was a much more "professional" job than its forerunner Kubrick had the casting of a bunch of actors so experienced in the "character" parts that as soon as they came into camera view you recognized them from a score of Hollywood movies "The Killing" lacks for me the dimension of humanity of its predecessor It reminded me of one of those documentaries that give <more>
you every conceivable fact with immaculate accuracy and leave you without the heart of the truth This has something to do with the style of the storytelling . Once again there is a narrator; only instead of a lonely failure with blood in his veins, this one sounds like a "March of Time" commentator: loud, confident, detached The film opens on the horses preparing for the off at the track and, even before the titles end, the dramatic music has started building the tension One by one we are introduced to the characters as once again, we don't know for a while what the plot is going to be; but this one uses the time to build the mystery and tension rather than to deepen the characters Johnny Clay Sterling Hayden is a convict just out from five years in Alcatraz, master-minding the two million dollar hold-up He collects how, we are never told a bunch of flawed human beings to fit, like jigsaw pieces, into the intricacy of his plan There's an Irish barman, an amiable old book-keeper, a tough crooked cop; and there's little George Peatty, played by Elisha Cook Jr he of the bulging eyes and mobile mouth; here the incarnation of fear and uncertainty and in countless other Hollywood thrillers the personification of the staring-eyed boy killer...Kubrick plays tricks with time as his characters become caught in the plot He takes each of them and plays his incident through to the next turn of the screw; then goes back to an earlier moment in time to see what somebody else was doing Even the incidental small parts have "character" stamped right through them The marksman hired to shoot a winning racehorse to cause a diversion from the robbery is a war veteran with deformed speech The old retired wrestler, who picks a fight with the police to create another diversion If "Killer's Kiss" had one big dramatic set-piece, "The Killing" has a score of small dramatic touches to heighten the irony and the tension "The Killing" is one of the most skillful and entertaining suspense movies of the Fifties It mesmerized like a ticking time bomb, and every few minutes, with sure skill, Kubrick recorded a new peak of suspense And all with very little violence, again, though with the obligatory sudden death
A movie with average plot, fair acting, but superb direction (by Lunchbox-8)
Stanley Kubrick is truly one of the most gifted directors of all time. He wasn't afraid to be boring 2001: a Space Odyssey or critically bashed The Shining or risque and disturbing A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut . He simply did his job: to provide a well made film with strong theme and meaning. The Killing is definitely not Kubrick's best work. It seems to me that Stan wasn't famous enough and too little known to make The Killing the way that he wanted to. It was though, still pretty entertaining. It has one of my favorite attributes that most movies don't even steer <more>
close to: a non-linear plot. A non-linear plot is when scenes are put in non-chronilogical order, i.e. Pulp Fiction, Out of Sight, Fight Club, etc. It makes the audience pay more attention and makes the plot seem more interesting and intricate. In this movie, the plot wasn't way out of order, but it was enough to be conidered non-linear. Another cool part of the movie was the heist itself. It was very well planned and executed and obviously took time to think up. The depressing climax and ending lean a lot towards the work of Hitchcock. In fact, if this film had been in some parts been by Hitchcock, it would not have been too much of a surprise. If you're in to classic, black and white crime dramas, then this movie is for you.
Shades of Kubrick greatness to come (by FilmOtaku)
'The Killing', the late, great Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film about a race track heist stars Sterling Hayden best known as Capt. McCluskey in The Godfather as Johnny Clay, a recently released prisoner who already has his next job lined up holding up a race track, which will garner he and his gang, some of them employees of the track, a killing. Like most films of this genre, some elements of the plan work and some don't, causing a gradual unraveling until the story builds to a climax.The film itself is well-written and decently acted with virtually no stand-out characters, <more>
but Kubrick employs a writing technique that is fairly pervasive in film today, but not always done well telling the story from several different perspectives. I would imagine in 1956 it was fairly unusual to see the same scene several times, but from different angles and perspectives depending on who is featured in that scene, and probably not entirely popular, but in terms of vision it is brilliant. In 1956 cinema, gone were the days when an audience expected the guy in the white hat to win, but turning the villains essentially into protagonists, then giving each of their sides of the story was probably fairly rare. Kubrick, in writing 'The Killing' did just that, and did it with such style and intelligence that certainly it was expected that he would exhibit the vision and talent he would later be hailed for. Filmed in a stark and stylish black and white, 'The Killing' is a classic film noir masterpiece that is rarely mentioned, but those that have seen it praise it and its director, Stanley Kubrick, a man whose films are gut-wrenchingly phenomenal. 'The Killing' exhibits his early talent and flair for not only style but for writing a good, solid screenplay. This is a must-see for any Kubrick fan, certainly, but also for anyone who wants to see an early example of maverick storytelling.--Shel