Monday, November 28, 2011

The Killers (1964)

Director: Don Siegel

Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Clu Gulager, Claude Akins, Norman Fell, Ronald Reagan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There is more than one way to kill a man!

Plot: Two professional killers fulfill a contract hit on an auto mechanics teacher in a school for the blind but are surprised that he does not try to flee and appears to welcome his fate. Charlie Strom, the older of the two hit-men, wonders why they have been overpaid for the assignment, and when he finds out that the victim, Johnny North, a former Formula One race car driver, had been involved in a million dollar robbery, they decide to pursue the matter. They become convinced that discovering the identity of the man who hired them is the key to finding the stolen money as they search out North's past with brutal efficiency.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

While I prefer the 1946 version, this one has some incredibly harsh and badass moments. The love story business is melodramatic and pretty sappy in places. The extensive (and really poorly executed) rear projection work in the flashbacks are pretty bad, too. And that's where the lackluster portions of the film are. What shines is the off the charts badassery by our two hitmen, Charlie (Marvin) and Lee (Culager). Lee is a young, sadistic cuss and Charlie is the seasoned badass who doesn't take shit off of anyone. Charlie has the last line of the film and it's a classic!

These guys need their own movie franchise they're so damn cool. Ronald Regan plays his only bad guy roll and does OK. There's a scene where he plants one right across the chops of Angie Dickinson and boy did it feel like it hurt! Cassavetes does a fine job. Some of his lines were recorded in a studio which doesn't match the feel of the scene but whatever. The sheer brutality of the hitmen make up for an awful lot. They're THAT good. Watch both versions and you'll like them both for different reasons. It's been easily 20 years since I watched either and I'm looking forward to the Burt Lancaster classic in a couple of days.

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