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The Killing

USA 1956. Dir: Stanley Kubrick. 84 min. DCP

Stanley Kubrick’s assured third feature — the legendary director’s breakthrough work — is one of the classic hard-boiled caper films. Sterling Hayden is memorable as mastermind Johnny Clay, an ex-con who assembles a team of small-time losers and dreamers in order to pull off the “perfect” robbery of a racetrack. The film was adapted from the novel Clean Break by American pulp-fiction writer Lionel White; the screenplay was co-written by another noted noir author, Jim Thompson. The Killing brought Kubrick critical attention for its extraordinary performances, claustrophobic compositions, and complex use of time. Influenced by John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle (also staring Hayden), it later inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. White’s novel Obsession served as source for Godard’s Pierrot le fou. “Arguably Kubrick’s most perfectly conceived and executed film ... Not to be missed” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).

 

REVIEWS

"One of the best crime films of all time ... With this lean black-and-white racetrack robbery thriller, Stanley Kubrick found the high style and astringent tone that would serve him for the rest of his career."

The Guardian | full review

★★★★★ "A daring structural jigsaw puzzle ... Even though he was just staring out, Kubrick instantly mastered the crime genre."

Empire | full review