Pssst, want to check out The Killing in our new look?
- 84 min.
- Stanley Kubrick
- Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
- Rating *
- Votes *
- 10.0% (1:10)
CinemaDumpThe Killing is without a doubt Stanley Kubrick's breakout film. His previous film, Killer's Kiss shows its low budget roots pretty obviously and is probably only worth seeing for Kubrick completionists. The Killing has a slightly larger budget and more studio support from United Artists though Kubrick had to forfeit some of his creative freedom.
What really sets The Killing apart is how unique the storyline is set out. It's told in a non-linear storyline which everyone is familiar with from Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction. Non-linear storylines are pretty much accepted now by everyone but back in 1956, people weren't used to non-conventional storytelling at all. Kubrick was forced to re-edit the film to be linear but apparently the results were even more confusing to follow. Sadly, The Killing was released as it was and failed to make a profit.
A team of criminals get together to plan a race track heist. Everyone is given a role and everyone is to keep their mouth shut until the big day. However, George Peatty's (Elisha Cook Jr.) wife Sherry (Marie Windsor) finds out about the operation and spills the beans to Val Cannon (Vince Edwards), her lover on the side. Things fall into place until the big day at the track when things don't go as expected.
The storyline of The Killing is easy enough to follow and the characters are all unique enough to differentiate. I especially like how the climax is shown several times through the eyes of different crooks. The repetition never feels dull and the resolution is quite a thrill as well.
You can really see just how much Quentin Tarantino was "inspired" by Kubrick. Reservoir Dogs clearly traces its origins to this film and any Reservoir fan owes it to themselves to see The Killing. This is not the greatest film-noir ever made but it's most certainly one of the most important ever made, one which had an enormous impact on film later on.
Compared to Killer's Kiss, The Killing never really reveals its low budget-ness. Kubrick is a little less wild with his camera work but this time, he has a very competent group of actors who play their roles pretty well. Elisha Cook Jr.'s acting has aged the worst but it's easy to get by. There's some narration that also seems unnecessary but was forced onto Kubrick by United Artists to make it easier for the audiences who weren't used to fractured storylines.
It's a real shame that Kubrick's visionary effort didn't light up the box office. He attracted attention from the most important people though in Kirk Douglas and Marlon Brando who who give him his next job, director of Paths of Glory and paved his way into Hollywood. As his best solo work before achieving mainstream success, The Killing is worth seeing.
8/10 8 years 9 months ago
AngellikeThe noir aspect always catches me off guard. Clever movie and build-up, resembling The Sting. As for the ending, obviously it suits certain viewers and doesn't with others, I'm somewhere in between. 9 years 8 months ago
sureupSo much great stuff in this movie. Elisha Cook's character feels real as he's not as stupid as the standard blinded-by-love schmuck. Sterling Hayden is just fantastic throughout the whole thing.
My favorite scene is between Timothy Carey and the black guy in the parking lot, you can just feel the desperation and pain when he just has to get rid of him.
The humor of the last part is really unexpected and felt somewhat silly, but it works in the end and makes it quite the special movie. 10 years 2 months ago
In 15 official lists
This movie ranks #18 in IMDb's Film-Noir Top 50
IMDb's Film-Noir Top 5018
This movie ranks #22 in Time Out’s The 100 Best Thrillers
Time Out’s The 100 Best …22
This movie ranks #32 in Quentin Tarantino's Coolest Movies of All Time
Quentin Tarantino's Cool…32
This movie ranks #41 in 101 Gangster Movies You Must See Before You Die
101 Gangster Movies You …41
This movie ranks #46 in iCheckMovies's 1950s Top 100
iCheckMovies's 1950s Top…46
This movie ranks #94 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films94
This movie ranks #94 in TSPDT's 100 Essential Noir Films
TSPDT's 100 Essential No…94
This movie ranks #365 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
Emma Beare's 501 Must-Se…365
This movie ranks #393 in Roger Ebert's Great Movies
Roger Ebert's Great Movi…393
This movie ranks #409 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
Jonathan Rosenbaum's Ess…409
This movie ranks #481 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
The Guardian's 1000 Film…481
This movie ranks #503 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
Time Out's 1000 Films to…503
This movie ranks #525 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
David Thomson's Have You…525
This movie ranks #587 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films
TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest F…587
This movie ranks #674 in The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection674