Ernest Hemingway s spare, laconic short story about two professional killers and their encounter with a mysteriously unresisting victim was significantly expanded into this all-time film noir classic, which Hemingway said was the first adaptation of his work that he really admired. As washed-up boxer turned hitman victim Ole 'Swede' Andreson, Burt Lancaster made his screen debut, and was catapulted to instant stardom, not least for the screen chemistry that he showed opposite sultry Ava Gardner, whose Kitty Collins is the very personification of the femme fatale. German émigré Robert Siodmak was one of the filmmakers who helped create film noir, and Elwood Bredell s high-contrast cinematography, all harsh lighting and long shadows, elevates the film far above a conventional crime drama. But even on that level it s a first-rate demonstration of how to maintain narrative tension, with the flashback structure withholding crucial details until almost the very end.
Early Lancaster Outing Shows Promise
- The Killers review by PE
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You rated this film: 2
I didn't realise it at the time but this was Burt Lancaster's first senior acting role and you can see , even in this early outing his potential. He oozes charisma and the sexual chemistry with Ava Gardner is potent. I didn't find the film itself particuarly engaging, it lacked the tension that you would hope to find in a movie of this genre but it is nevertheless a decent plot and moves along at a decent pace.
Isolated Music and Effects soundtrack to highlight Miklós Rózsa s famous score
Frank Krutnik on The Killers, a video piece by the author of In a Lonely Street, which introduces the film and offers a detailed commentary on four key scenes
Heroic Fatalism, a video essay adapted from Philip Booth s comparative study of multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel)
Three archive radio pieces inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director s Playhouse adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters; a 1946 Jack Benny spoof; the 1958 Suspense episode Two for the Road which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw
Trailers for The Killers, Brute Force, The Naked City and Rififi
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