Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Killers (1946)

“If there's one thing in this world I hate, it's a double-crossing dame”
he plot for The Killers is one we can still see in many movies today. After watching this you can probably name at least five movies that have this kind of story and twist. What makes The Killers different from the movies of its kind today is you truly do not know who did what until the end. The movie is told as a series of flashbacks as a detective tries to solve the murder of a man.
            The beginning of the movie is sinister: two men are driving down a dark street with booming and mysterious music playing in the background. The two men pull up to a diner in Brentwood, NJ and go inside. They tell the man behind the counter they are waiting for a man named Paul Lund aka the Swede. They know he goes to the diner after work so they wait for him.
When Swede doesn’t show up at his usual time the two men leave to go look for him. Someone from the diner runs to Swede’s place to warn him that two men are coming after to him to kill him. Swede doesn’t care he said he did something wrong and now he has to pay for what he did. The two men eventually come for Swede and shoot him.
            Swede had a small life insurance policy so his death has to be investigated. John Reardon is sent to investigate Swede’s death. He tracks down people from Swede’s past and finds out that he was a boxer named Ole Anderson. He connects with an old friend of Swede’s named Sam Lubinsky who is a detective. Swede’s career ended one night when after a fight the bones in his hand were badly broken. Both Sam and Ole’s girlfriend at the time Lilly were at the fight. After the fight Ole started to hang around with some shady people. He took Lilly to a party one night at the home of “Big Jim” Colfax. There he sees the most beautiful woman he has ever gazed upon: Kitty Collins. From that first meeting his life is never the same again the beautiful woman took such a hold on him that he could think no one and nothing else.
            Everything Swede does is for Kitty. She and Jim play upon Swedes feelings and set him up for one of the greatest double/triple cross story ever.
            The moment this film was over all I said was “wow.” It has got a great story and a great twist. I truly enjoyed every minute of the film. I liked how we see a man lusting after a woman instead of always seeing women who are usually lusting after a man and will do anything for them. Swede risked everything on Kitty and his desire to be with her and was eventually killed for it. Kitty was truly a femme fatale men died for things that she had a large in role in.
            This was my first time seeing Ava Gardner in a film and she was perfect as the femme fatal. With her looks you could tell her character was going to be some form of trouble. She was so gorgeous in everything she wore. The smoldering, lustful looks towards Swede are to die for. I had always expected Ava Gardner to have this beautiful, sexy deep voice so when she first spoke in the film I was a little taken aback by her somewhat high voice… that does not in any form take away from her sexual appeal. One of my favorite parts of the film is when Big Jim is planning out the robbery of a factory and Kitty says something that he does not like so he says “Keep your mouth shut or get it slapped shut” and she comes back with “If you slap me you won’t live to see morning”, I love the way Ava Gardner says this line and how it shows Kitty’s feistiness and how she’s not afraid of Big Jim.
            This was Burt Lancaster’s first film roll. I believe that this is my first film seeing him as well and he did an excellent job. He and Ava Gardner had such good chemistry together and he was so good playing the lustful man after Kitty.
            Richard Siodmak directed the film with his fabulous Noir touch. He captured the lustful looks of Kitty, Swedes desire and lust for Kitty, and all the emotions of both characters so perfectly. 
 
            The Killers is based off a short story by Ernest Hemingway. The only part of the screenplay which comes from the short story is the beginning when the killers are in the diner looking for Swede. The rest was written by Anthony Veiller and an uncredited John Huston who would later have a successful career as a director.
             Definitely see The Killers if you are a fan of Film Noir. The Killers is one of those films that set the bar for all other crime and noir films that were to come. It is an excellent example in acting, writing, and directing.