Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Killing

Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
1956. Not Rated, 89 minutes.
Sterling Hayden
Elisha Cook Jr.
Marie Windsor
Vince Edwards
Ted de Corsia
Jay C. Flippen
Joe Sawyer
Colleen Gray

Fresh out of prison after a five year bid, Johnny (Hayden) very quickly tries to bring a master plan together. He and a couple guys who work there are going to rob the local racetrack right when its at its busiest. Also involved are a dirty cop and a couple random thugs Johnny from his time on the inside.

Aside from Johnny and the two hoods, the others aren’t really crooks but have been driven into criminal behavior by circumstance. The cop is in deep to a bookie and another guy has a sickly wife he desperately wants to take care of. The last guy, George (Cook Jr) is the one we focus on most. He’s married to Sherry (Windsor), a woman out of his league. He earned her hand based on the promise he was going to strike it rich. Five years later, her every word to him is a reminder he hasn’t and she can’t stand it any longer. He correctly suspects her of having an affair but lacks the spine to call her on it. Instead, he merely pleads with her not to “do anything stupid” while he’s out meeting with the boys. He also does something else that proves to be detrimental to the heist, but I’ve already said too much.

Written and directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick, The Killing is a fascinating, yet rigid heist movie. The crime and the various subplots unfold nicely. The whole thing comes to a head with a “wow” ending. The rigidity comes from the fact that it’s shoe-horned into an hour and a half. Honestly, there could be an hour more to this movie. Instead of being shown everything, half the movie is read to us off the page by a narrator. He’s not exactly reciting beautiful poetry, either. We’re talking stodgy prose of the “At 3:32 PM, Johnny arrived at the hotel” variety.

Its flaws are the reason this is a movie I could actually like to see remade. The story is already excellent, yet there is much room for growth. The characters could be given more room to flourish and/or fail. As it is, it works fine. It’s even better than fine and hailed by some as a classic. I’m greedy. I want more.

MY SCORE: 7.5/10

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