The Killing (1956)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Killing</strong> (1956)

(On Cable TV, November 2018) Before Stanley Kubrick became The Kubrick, he did have an apprenticeship of sorts in the early 1950s—a few documentary shorts, two crime movies that I haven’t yet seen, and then, finally, The Killing—a thriller that was commercially ignored but really brought Kubrick to the attention of Hollywood and launched his career as we know it. Compared to his later filmography, it’s a bit of an outlier: a straight-ahead film noir, featuring an ensemble cast of characters working toward a heist that doesn’t go as planned … especially after it’s carried out. The familiar set-up is more than redeemed by good execution: The Killing has a number of unusual moments that stick in mind even when compared against so many other similar mid-1950s crime thrillers. The budget is low but the expertise is high, and the movie is a great deal of fun to watch even today, with an ironic finale that caps it all off. There’s a perceptible (and acknowledged) influence here on Reservoir Dogs and many other subsequent movies. Many viewers will approach the film as part of a Kubrick filmography, and leave it having seen an essential noir.

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