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1 rating: -1.0
A movie directed by Stanley Kubrick

Sterling Hayden stars in Stanley Kubrick's crime noir classic, THE KILLING, based on crime Lionel White's novel CLEAN BREAK. Hayden plays Johnny Clay, an ex-con with a plan to steal $2 million from a San Francisco racetrack. He assembles an odd collection … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Release Date: 1956
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Killing

The Killing – noir this, I’ll just never be a Kubrick buff

  • Apr 17, 2001
Pros: Hayden and Windsor

Cons: It just never grabbed me

The Bottom Line: Despite his acclaim, I just can't get into Kubrick

After suffering through Eyes Wide Shut, with only one eye on the screen most the time, I decided to investigate the legend that is Stanley Kubrick. Unable to get a copy of his first movie Fear and Desire, I settled for 1956’s The Killing and 1955’s The Killer’s Kiss. I don’t know, I just don’t get it – far from brilliant as far as I am concerned but I guess that is why I sit here clacking away for a penny a pop while there are real critics out there palming their buck two ninety-eight an hour.

Taking into consideration the age of the release and the time that the film was shot, one would have to admit it was directed well enough but the entire production seems so phony. The premise of the movie follows an ex-convict, Sterling Hayden, as he decides to pull off his final hurrah – robbing a horse race track during the race. He bands together with friends that have issues of their own to deal with, to pull this gig off, Jay Flippen, Ted de Corsia (a dirty cop), Joe Sawyer (bartender at track needing money for a sick wife), Elisha Cook, Jr. (cashier at track with a greedy wife). Adding into the mix are Vince Edwards as the lover of Cook’s wife and Timothy Carey, a killer that is supposed to shoot one of the horses so their will be distraction to enable the robbery.

Kubrick does take the time to go into these people’s backgrounds, setting a base for the story, letting you know they are every day people with every day problems that are getting way out of their reach. A sad display of money hungry people living way beyond their means and blaming every one but themselves for their problems.

As things go, the robbery doesn’t come off as planned, nor does the resulting circumstances, but that is what makes a story happen I assume.

Sitting on the sidelines
Like I said, I wasn’t particularly impressed with this movie. Perhaps it is Kubricks’ way, he likes to keep the characters edgy and closed in, but I don’t care for this type of production. The good qualities are it is naturally in black and white, which I always think adds something to the movie – making you use your imagination to paint the scenes in yourself. Also, the characters are deeply intense, something you seldom see in movies anymore. Unfortunately, this isn’t my style of movie.

Sterling Hayden, if you aren’t familiar with him, did a remarkable job as the ‘gang lord’ for his rag-tag band of thieves. The balance of the cast did credence to their parts as well. Cook’s wife, Marie Windsor, was definitely the queen of mean and Cook, himself, a perfect supplicating servant to her. Ah, the power of womanhood!

There are enough turns and twists in this movie to keep you wondering who did what and who is going to do what but as far as I was concerned, too many story lines to follow for this type of movie. Of course, I suppose if you didn’t have to muddle through these people’s unexciting lives then you would have no one to root for in the end. Still, it left me wanting. Sorry, just can't bring myself to recommend this movie.

Written and directed by Stanley Kubrick.


Susi :)


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