Killers, The A-
Featuring the great Burt Lancaster in his very film debut, The Killers is a compelling noir-crime drama of an ex-fighter, based on Ernest Hemingway's short story.
The plot follows the prevailing American film noir structure of the 1940's, exploring such themes as the treachery of love and murderous impulse. The unlikely death of a filling station attendant prompts an insurance investigator to solve a puzzle of events that end with the murderer's death.
The film's opening sequence is staged just like Hemingway's story: a man utters his last words, telling the story of how a woman double-crossed him. The Killers presents a narrative that includes multiple flashbacks, all of which must be comprehended to understand the opening scene. The use of flashback is a dominant device in the vocabulary of film noir.
Burt Lancaster became a popular movie star after generating great reviews for his portrayal of Swede, the ex-boxer turned grand larcenist. Bosley Crowther, the influential film critic for the New York Times wrote: “Lancaster gives a lanky and wistful imitation of a nice guy wooed to his ruin.”
Director Robert Siodmak had a major influence on the evolution of American film noir. Born in l900 in Memphis, Tennessee, Siodmak spent his childhood in Liepzig and Berlin. After a short career in banking and in magazines, he began working as an assistant director for a German company. In l936, he managed to escape Nazi Germany for Paris and five years later arrived in Hollywood.
In many of his films, Siodmak explored the criminal or psychotic impulses of his characters. His most typical narratives portray a gloomy world of fate, passion, obsession, and compulsion. Some of the other noir films Siodmak is known for are: Phantom Lady (l944) The Suspect (1945), Uncle Harry (1945), Criss Cross (1949), and The File on Thelma Jordan (l949), starring Barbara Stanwyck.
Running Time: 105 minutes
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