Friday, December 9, 2011

The Killers (1946)

Director: Robert Siodmak

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Ava Garnder, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levene, Vince Barnett, Virginia Christine, Jack Lambert, Charles D. Brown, Donald MacBride, Charles McGraw, William Conrad

More info: IMDb


Plot: Two professional killers invade a small town and kill a gas station attendant, "the Swede," who's expecting them. Insurance investigator Reardon pursues the case against the orders of his boss, who considers it trivial. Weaving together threads of the Swede's life, Reardon uncovers a complex tale of treachery and crime, all linked with gorgeous, mysterious Kitty Collins.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This is one of the great Noirs. Lancaster was made for pictures like this. Right from the start this movie grabs you by the short & curlies with the introduction of the two hitmen, Al and Max (McGraw and Conrad). These guys are tough guys like nobody's business.

Nails and broken glass flow through these guys' veins. Miklos Rozsa's score is iconic. You'll recognize the first part that was later stolen (Rozsa won the lawsuit, though) for the TV show, DRAGNET. The opening minutes of the film until The Swede is murdered are some of the most harrowing you'll find in a Noir. It's cold, man, just cold. The rest of the film kind of plays out like a more conventional Noir which is perfectly fine because it's a great picture. I like this one over the 1964 remake because there's less of the love story (it brought the remake down a couple of notches) and more of the investigation into The Swede's life. And what a story!

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