The Killing (1956)

The Killing Movie Review……………………………………..

The Killing Movie Review

The Killing is a 1956 noir film directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Sterling Hayden. It is a solid, but ultimately a weaker film for Kubrick.

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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

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The Killing Movie Review

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The plot here is nothing spectacular and it is the film’s biggest obstacle that it never managed to overcome. I just didn’t find it either riveting or particularly authentic. It is a basic heist, crime movie and that is also very annoying to me as it is called a noir film when in reality it is much more of a crime film. That was frustrating. Another annoying thing is its structure. The first half is somewhat slower and even a bit confusing as it is filled with too many characters, but the second is the opposite as it’s too rushed and even abrupt. But yes, that ending is worth watching alone as it is so powerful and instantly memorable.

The character development in this movie is solid, but frankly far from great. Johnny Clay is pretty forgettable for a supposedly main character and only Sherry is memorable and interesting here. Yes, she is a typical deceitful noir dame, but that worked here and she had some of the best sequences.

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The Killing Movie Review

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The acting is pretty good. None of these actors are greats, but they still did a pretty good job, all of them. Sterling Hayden is the highlight, but Marie Windsor is also quite solid. As for Kubrick’s direction, it is good, but far from great. Yes, The Killing is inarguably one of his weaker movies, at least for me it is. Of his 50s efforts, ‘Paths of Glory‘ is an infinitely better movie and I think that he unfortunately didn’t add anything new to this genre like he did to other genres in his greatest pictures.

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The Killing Movie Review

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The Killing looks really good as it has fine cinematography and some excellent shots. But as I said, it is never as atmospheric as the best noirs are and that was extremely annoying to me. It succeeds as a solid crime film and a heist one, but never as a thriller or full noir. The highlights are the airport end scene which is just awesome and those many scenes with Sherry who is very entertaining to follow.

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The Killing Movie Review

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The Killing is well paced and I have to say that it is pretty engaging to watch, especially for a crime film. Its running time is suitably short and it never drags, but admittedly is rushed in its second half. It is also quite unpredictable and even though I wasn’t such a big fan of its structure and of all its plot developments, I really liked how it all ended and how dark and mature the film is. You can evidently sense the danger in air and that was excellent. So the tone is great, but what about its realism? Well, it isn’t particularly realistic in some of its mob sequences as they are too mild given the subject matter. But having in mind its era, you have to watch it in context and that is why it wasn’t a problem for me. The score is okay and the dialogue is pretty good with some great lines early on. Overall, it isn’t great, but it is perfectly solid as an early Kubrick flick.

The Killing is a pretty solid early Kubrick picture with excellent cinematography, very good performances, solid characters and such a superb, memorable airport end scene, but the entire movie is admittedly a disappointing effort from Kubrick with not that authentic plot and not enough noir thrills to take it to the next level. It is solid, but far from great.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 1950s, 1956, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Noir and tagged , , , , , , , .

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