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The Killing

Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film noir The Killing is a heist flick told in three ways. We get the documentary style first, with a narrator reporting precise times, locations, and other details. Also developed here are the characters—standard types for the genre: the dirty cop, femme fatale, bartender and the like. Next comes the action, the robbery of the racetrack. All the moving parts in the scheme appear bit by bit and we see who's been tasked with what. The third direction the movie takes is toward the end, when irony hits the fan with twists you'd expect more from Quentin Tarantino than Kubrick (Tarantino, I read, remarked that The Killing had a big influence on his 1992 film Reservoir Dogs).

It's not Kubrick's best, but it's entertaining and held my attention. The acting is very good (particularly from Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., and Marie Windsor), with consistently sharp dialogue. Running 85 minutes it's one of Kubrick's shortest films. I felt quite satisfied but not blown away.


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