The Killing (1956)

The Killingthe-killing-1956
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Written by Stanley Kubrick and Jim Thompson from a novel by Lionel White
1956/USA
Harris-Kubrick Productions
Repeat viewing/Amazon Instant

Johnny Clay: You’d be killing a horse – that’s not first degree murder, in fact it’s not murder at all, in fact I don’t know what it is.

Early in his career, Kubrick had it all together.

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) has emerged from five long hard years of prison and immediately sets out planning a spectacular robbery designed to let him retire from his life of crime and marry his patient girlfriend (Colleen Grey).  We watch the planning of an elaborate scheme to steal up to $2 million in the take of a race track before it can be delivered to the armored car.  The set-up involves a number of moving parts, including a couple of insiders, a muscle man, a sniper and a crooked cop.

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As always with these things, the hit relies on each of its members.  And if we ever learned anything, it is that you can’t trust a criminal.  With Elisha Cook Jr. as a race track cashier and Marie Windsor as his bored and greedy wife.

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This film is only 85 minutes long and each minute is packed with style. The camera work is gorgeous.  Although this has a classic heist plot, I have deliberately kept the plot synopsis brief so viewers can savor every development.  It has one of the great ironic endings and last lines of all time IMHO.  Highly recommended.

Trailer

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