The Killing (1956)
Reviewed on 2007 May 17
There never will be another Stanley Kubrick. Who else could zoom from this noir goodie to 2001 to The Shining? This early thing is as black and bitter as a cup of unsweetened espresso, and just as good.
Five men with different motives are helmed by Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) to rob a race track, and it looks like a sure deal. Clay plans the byzantine plot down to the last detail, giving each man a role, and all they have to do is follow his steps and keep their mouths shut. Sounds simple, except one of them, George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr.) tells his wife, Sherry (Marie Windsor). Bad move, because Sherry is an amoral, money-grubbing… well, what Santa says. She’s not classically beautiful, but she’s kind of a cross between an EC Comics vampiress and a Siamese cat, and seems to live in expensive lingerie. She turns men to silly putty. Since George is pretty much silly putty to begin with, he tells her everything.
There are people that complain about the narration at parts of the movie, and it was odd, but I didn’t find it off-putting. It had everything a noir needs — desperate men, a dark plot, sarcastic dialogue, and a woman you can imagine born with a scotch glass in one hand and some poor slob’s wallet in the other — and yet it still had Kubrick’s stamp on it. The shots of the robbery coupled with the score was incredible. This is something that needs to be watched with full attention, so grab your snacks before you pop it in the DVD player.
Three chocolate morsels, and some retro scotch-thingie in a rocks glass.