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The Killing review
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THE KILLING

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"At exactly 3.45 on that Saturday afternoon in the last week of September, Marvin Unger was, perhaps, the only one among the hundred thousand people at the track who felt no thrill in the running of the fifth race. He was totally disinterested in horse racing and held a lifelong contempt for gambling. Nevertheless, he had a $5 win bet on every horse in the fifth race. He knew, of course, that this rather unique system of betting would more than likely result in a loss, but he didn't care. For after all, he thought, what would the loss of twenty or thirty dollars mean in comparison to the vast sum of money ultimately at stake". These were the opening lines of "The Killing" - one of the great "film noir" crime films of the 1950s directed by Stanley Kubrick (who also wrote the screenplay) about a complicated racetrack robbery. The film was only 89 minutes long and released as a supporting feature but is now regarded as a classic. This was "film noir" at its very best. The film had an outstanding cast including Sterling Hayden, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr, Vince Edwards, Coleen Gray, Ted de Corsia, Joe Sawyer, Timothy Carey, James Edwards and Jay C. Flippen. When ex-con Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) says he has a plan to make a killing everyone wants to be in on the action. The plan is to steal $2 million in a racetrack robbery but despite all their careful plotting things don't work out as they had hoped. Their carefully planned robbery was put in jeopardy when weak and pathetic George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr) let slip some vital information about the robbery to his beautiful but unfaithful wife Sherry (Marie Windsor). She in turn passes the details on to her boy friend Val Cannon (Vince Edwards) which puts everyone in danger. This was a typical "bad girl" role for Marie Windsor who seemed to specialise in tough broads in several "film noir" thrillers and Westerns. I met Marie several times in Hollywood and she told me that "The Killing" was one of her favourite roles along with "The Narrow Margin" with her friend Charles McGraw. The film was shot in just 24 days and Stanley Kubrick had to delay the start of filming in order to wait for Marie Windsor as she was busy finishing another film entitled "Swamp Women". Marie Windsor landed the part after Kubrick had seen her in "The Narrow Margin" (1952). Victor Mature and Jack Palance were both considered for the part played by Sterling Hayden. Kirk Douglas was so impressed with this film that he hired Kubrick for his next project "Paths of Glory" (1957). Frank Sinatra was interested in making the film but Stanley Kubrick beat him for the rights to the project. What I particularly liked about "The Killing" was the way that the action kept leading up to the seventh race (when the robbery was about to happen) and then we had flashbacks to earlier in the day showing what each member of the gang was doing and how they were involved in the scheme.
Favourite lines:
Sterling Hayden (to Timothy Carey): "You'd be killing a horse - that's not first degree murder, in fact it's not murder at all, in fact I don't know what it is".
Marie Windsor (to Vince Edwards): "You know he works at the track. Well, somehow, and don't ask me how, he's got connected with the mob. They're going to rob the track offices for the day's receipts!".
Hayden (to Windsor): "You like money. You've got a great big dollar sign there where most women have a heart".
Hayden (to Windsor): "I know you like a book. You're a no good nosey little tramp".
Voiceover (at racetrack): "Your attention, ladies and gentlemen. The horses are now on the track for the seventh race".

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Added by classic movie buff
9 years ago on 27 July 2008 18:17




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