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CinemaDump's avatar


The Killing is without a doubt Stanley Kubrick's breakout film. His previous film, Killer's Kiss shows its low budget roots pretty obviously and is probably only worth seeing for Kubrick completionists. The Killing has a slightly larger budget and more studio support from United Artists though Kubrick had to forfeit some of his creative freedom.

What really sets The Killing apart is how unique the storyline is set out. It's told in a non-linear storyline which everyone is familiar with from Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction. Non-linear storylines are pretty much accepted now by everyone but back in 1956, people weren't used to non-conventional storytelling at all. Kubrick was forced to re-edit the film to be linear but apparently the results were even more confusing to follow. Sadly, The Killing was released as it was and failed to make a profit.

A team of criminals get together to plan a race track heist. Everyone is given a role and everyone is to keep their mouth shut until the big day. However, George Peatty's (Elisha Cook Jr.) wife Sherry (Marie Windsor) finds out about the operation and spills the beans to Val Cannon (Vince Edwards), her lover on the side. Things fall into place until the big day at the track when things don't go as expected.

The storyline of The Killing is easy enough to follow and the characters are all unique enough to differentiate. I especially like how the climax is shown several times through the eyes of different crooks. The repetition never feels dull and the resolution is quite a thrill as well.

You can really see just how much Quentin Tarantino was "inspired" by Kubrick. Reservoir Dogs clearly traces its origins to this film and any Reservoir fan owes it to themselves to see The Killing. This is not the greatest film-noir ever made but it's most certainly one of the most important ever made, one which had an enormous impact on film later on.

Compared to Killer's Kiss, The Killing never really reveals its low budget-ness. Kubrick is a little less wild with his camera work but this time, he has a very competent group of actors who play their roles pretty well. Elisha Cook Jr.'s acting has aged the worst but it's easy to get by. There's some narration that also seems unnecessary but was forced onto Kubrick by United Artists to make it easier for the audiences who weren't used to fractured storylines.

It's a real shame that Kubrick's visionary effort didn't light up the box office. He attracted attention from the most important people though in Kirk Douglas and Marlon Brando who who give him his next job, director of Paths of Glory and paved his way into Hollywood. As his best solo work before achieving mainstream success, The Killing is worth seeing.

4 years 6 months ago
Angellike's avatar


The noir aspect always catches me off guard. Clever movie and build-up, resembling The Sting. As for the ending, obviously it suits certain viewers and doesn't with others, I'm somewhere in between.
5 years 5 months ago
Rigters's avatar


Another great movie for Kubrick. The actors did a very nice job. The way the movie is made looks so modern, and you gotta love Kubrick for doing that.

The end is a little bit strange/silly, but I think it doesn't ruin the movie.
5 years 10 months ago
sureup's avatar


So much great stuff in this movie. Elisha Cook's character feels real as he's not as stupid as the standard blinded-by-love schmuck. Sterling Hayden is just fantastic throughout the whole thing.

My favorite scene is between Timothy Carey and the black guy in the parking lot, you can just feel the desperation and pain when he just has to get rid of him.

The humor of the last part is really unexpected and felt somewhat silly, but it works in the end and makes it quite the special movie.
5 years 11 months ago
kanoba's avatar


Really good. And the ending is just brilliant.
7 years 1 month ago
Siskoid's avatar


The Killing is an early Stanley Kubrick, and it's a little hard to see how novel it was because 1) it's in a genre that was pretty common in 1956 (crime noir), and 2) its unusual structure wouldn't be out of place in today's cinema. I say unusual, but it's still pretty straightforward by today's standards - the planning and execution of a race track heist is shown from different points of view, backtracking in time to show what another character was doing meanwhile, etc. A narrator who sounds like he's working on Reefer Madness acts as a vocal time stamp, which feels a little clumsy at first (in fact, before you realize it'll be a requirement to making sense of the structure), but soon starts to act as a ticking clock. And if the voice-over style sounds dated, it does tie in well with the "crime does not pay" twists in the story. So no, it's not one of Kubrick's greats, but even his lesser works have a lot going for them, and the flaws might actually be strengths.
1 year ago
Adamov10's avatar


great movie. 9/10
5 years 8 months ago
dirte_lawndre's avatar


In the beginning I was wondering 'What's with the unnecessary voice-over' but then I realised the voice-over was there to guide the viewer about all the roles in the heist and times for each member, it was then that i really loved this flick. Its brilliant and well play by all cast! I really loved the bar fight scene espicially :)
6 years 1 month ago
Big A2's avatar

Big A2

@jktomas: Dude, it's 85 minutes long. Never seen Duck Soup, or Frankenstein?
7 years 1 month ago
jacktrewin's avatar


what an ending! very slow to start for such a short film but very enjoyable
7 years 3 months ago
vishnu's avatar


Perfect! One among the best heist movies!
7 years 7 months ago
arunraj's avatar


there is nothing Kubrick didn't do!!!!!!!!!
7 years 9 months ago
Henry K Hurtin's avatar

Henry K Hurtin

Liked it very much. Elisha Cook's great in it.
8 years 1 month ago
natrajan's avatar


awesome movie !
8 years 4 months ago
nestorjal's avatar


80min of an awesome noir film!
7 years 3 months ago

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