[box cover]

The Killing

Stanley Kubrick is best known for creating daring, epic films like Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange — films that have indelibly burned their images onto our collective cultural cornea. Before that, however, he got down and dirty with this terrific, tight, crackling 1956 heist thriller that, while largely unheard of by the general public, has also made its presence felt through influence on directors like Quentin Tarantino and Bryan Singer. Johnny (Sterling Hayden), a no-nonsense ex-con trying to do nice by his sweet girlfriend, plans an intricate racetrack robbery worth $2 million, and assembles a hand-picked team of associates to pull it off. Kubrick dances around the chronology of events like a lindy-hopper, jerking the viewer back and forth from execution to plan, and effect to cause, creating a tense and engrossing climax. Kubrick also preys on his audience's conscience, making each member of this criminal conspiracy likable and sympathetic in their own unique way. You get the feeling the director empathizes strongly with Johnny — both make meticulous plans to be faultlessly executed by a collaborative effort, but are helpless against all that might go wrong. The Killing is beautifully shot in black and white, and features a few of Kubrick's most unforgettable images. Kubrick is credited with adapting Lionel White's novel Clean Break, but famed pulp writer Jim Thompson added to the great tough, hard boiled dialog, like "You've got a great big dollar sign where most women have a heart." Simply one of the best crime thrillers ever made. Also with Elisha Cook. Presented in its original standard aspect ratio and 2.0 mono from a good source print. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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