Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing was made way back in ’56 and it’s a film noir heist caper about a buncha guys tryin’ ta rob a racetrack. Note the duality in the title in it referring to a windfall as well as to death. Noirs never get a happy ending and this one tells you as much.

I thought the start of the film was a touch confusing as you don’t get introductions to characters, not that it’s necessary. It jumps right into the idea that this was a heist and it starts right about when the robbery takes place, slowly revealing more scene by scene, placing things in a timeframe and not having a linear time scale. One interesting thing was the multiple different views and perspectives the film shows you to build the story and give each character their own story.

killing

Sterling Hayden, whom I previously saw in another noir, The Asphalt Jungle, plays the lead role as Johnny Clay, the guy who just got outta jail and saw his wife after 5 years only to decide it’s time for another ill-advised criminal caper. He strings along a few acquaintances and friends to do a big job, $2million dollars by robbing the racetrack. He hatches an elaborate plan involving a marksman, a wrestler, a bartender, a ticketer and a cop. Each one of ’em has their own issues and reasons to need the dough.

So we get this interesting play of personalities and needs and the idea that crime doesn’t pay. No one gets away scot free but it’s an intriguing take on how desperation never gets the best out of man. You just know it’s all going to end ugly, but you don’t know how. That’s what the film is really about.

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