The Killers (1946 film): Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Killers

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Siodmak
Produced by Mark Hellinger
Written by Story:
Ernest Hemingway
Screenplay:
Anthony Veiller
Richard Brooks
Uncredited:
John Huston
Starring Burt Lancaster
Ava Gardner
Edmond O'Brien
Sam Levene
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Elwood Bredell
Editing by Arthur Hilton
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) August 28, 1946
Running time 103 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Killers is a 1946 American film noir. It is based in part on the short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway. The film was directed by Robert Siodmak and features Burt Lancaster in his screen debut, as well as Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, and Sam Levene.[1] An uncredited John Huston co-wrote the screenplay.

In 2008, The Killers was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Contents

Plot

Two hit men, Max and Al (William Conrad and Charles McGraw), arrive at a small-town diner, assigned to find and kill a man, Ole Anderson, aka "the Swede" (Burt Lancaster). They track him to a boarding house where, resigned to his fate, he puts up no struggle.

The Swede had life insurance, so Investigator Jim Reardon (Edmond O'Brien) is assigned to look into the murder for his company. Interviewing people from his past, Reardon develops a theory that The Swede's murder stemmed from an unsolved payroll robbery of years earlier masterminded by Colfax (Albert Dekker) and involving Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner), a mysterious woman The Swede loved.

Working with a police detective (Sam Levene) who was a boyhood friend of the dead man, Reardon sets a plan in motion to trap the hired killers and the man who hired them.

Cast

Background

Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster

The first 20 minutes of the film, showing the arrival of the two contract killers, and the murder of "Swede" Anderson, is a close adaptation of Hemingway's short story. The rest of the film, showing Reardon's investigation of the murder, is wholly original. According to Hemingway's biographer, Carlos Baker, The Killers "was the first film from any of his works that Ernest could genuinely admire."[2]

Producer Mark Hellinger paid $36,750 for the screen rights to Hemingway's story, his first independent production. The screenplay was written by John Huston (uncredited because of his contract with Warner Bros.) and Richard Brooks.[3]

Lancaster wasn't his first pick for the part of "the Swede," but Warner Brothers wouldn't lend out actor Wayne Morris for the film. Other actors considered for the part include: Van Heflin, Jon Hall, Sonny Tufts, and Edmond O'Brien, who was instead cast in the role of the insurance investigator. In the role of the femme fatale, Kitty Collins, Hellinger cast Gardner, who had up to then appeared virtually unnoticed in a string of minor films.

The opening chords of Miklós Rózsa's theme music was later reused for the Dragnet television series.

The Killers is used as an example of noir cinematography in the documentary Visions of Light (1992).[4]

The film's appeal derives from breaking the traditional narrative structure by using a number of flashbacks. [5]

Critical reception

Iconic image of "Swede" Andersen before his murder.

When the film was first released, Bosley Crowther gave it a positive review and lauded the acting. He wrote, "[In] a film called The Killers, which was the title of the Hemingway piece, Mark Hellinger and Anthony Veiller are filling out the plot. That is, they are cleverly explaining, through a flashback reconstruction of the life of that man who lay sweating in his bedroom, why the gunmen were after him. And although it may not be precisely what Hemingway had in mind, it makes a taut and absorbing explanation...[w]ith Robert Siodmak's restrained direction, a new actor, Burt Lancaster, gives a lanky and wistful imitation of a nice guy who's wooed to his ruin. And Ava Gardner is sultry and sardonic as the lady who crosses him up. Edmond O'Brien plays the shrewd investigator in the usual cool and clipped detective style, Sam Levene is very good as a policeman and Albert Dekker makes a thoroughly nasty thug. Several other characters are sharply and colorfully played. The tempo is slow and metronomic, which makes for less excitement than suspense."[6]

In a review of the DVD release, Scott Tobias, while critical of the screenplay, described the drama's noir style, writing, "Lifted note-for-note from the Hemingway story, the classic opening scene of Siodmak's film sings with the high tension, sharp dialogue, and grim humor that's conspicuously absent from the rest of Anthony Veiller's mediocre screenplay. Taking a page out of the Double Indemnity playbook, Veiller has insurance adjuster Edmond O'Brien investigate after the murder takes place, but it's never really clear why he's so passionate about the case. A lean block of muscles and little else, Burt Lancaster stars as the hapless victim, an ex-boxer who was unwittingly roped into the criminal underworld and the even more dangerous gaze of Ava Gardner, a memorably sultry and duplicitous femme fatale. The story plays strictly by the crime-genre rules, including a $250,000 payroll caper, but Siodmak (Criss Cross, The Spiral Staircase), a director from the German Expressionist school, sustains a fatalistic tone with the atmospheric touches that define noir, favoring stark lighting effects that throw his post-war world into shadow."[7]

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 100 percent of critics gave the film a positive review, based on twenty-nine reviews.[8]

Adaptations

The Killers was dramatized as a half-hour radio play on the June 5, 1949 broadcast of Screen Director's Playhouse, starring Burt Lancaster, Shelly Winters and William Conrad.

In 1958, director Andrei Tarkovsky, then a film student, created a 19-minute short based on the story which is featured on the Criterion Collection DVD release.[9]

The film was adapted in 1964 using the same title (see: The Killers), but an updated plot. It was directed by Don Siegel, and featured Lee Marvin and a villainous Ronald Reagan in his last motion picture. Siegel's film was deemed too violent for the small screen and was released theatrically, first in Europe, then years later in America.[10]

Scenes from The Killers were used in the Steve Martin film noir spoof Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982).[11]

Awards and honors

Classic-era film noirs in the National Film Registry
1940-49

The Maltese Falcon | Shadow of a Doubt | Laura | Double Indemnity | Mildred Pierce | Detour
The Big Sleep | The Killers | Notorious | Out of the Past | Force of Evil | The Naked City | White Heat

Wins

Nominations—1947 Academy Awards

References

  1. ^ The Killers at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Baker, Carlos. Hemingway, Princeton University Press; 4th edition, November 1, 1972.
  3. ^ Lethem, Jonathan. Criterion Collection, "The Killers: Robert Siodmak and Don Siegel," essay. Last accessed: February 25, 2008.
  4. ^ Visions of Light at the Internet Movie Database.
  5. ^ "Wettbewerb/In Competition". Moving Pictures, Berlinale Extra (Berlin): p.85. 11-22 February 1998. 
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, August 29, 1946. Last accessed: February 24, 2008
  7. ^ Tobias, Scott. AV Club, film and DVD review, February 26, 2003. Last accessed: February 24, 2008.
  8. ^ The Killers at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: March 7, 2010.
  9. ^ Ubiytsy (The Killers) at the Internet Movie Database.
  10. ^ The Killers (1964) at the Internet Movie Database.
  11. ^ Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid at the Internet Movie Database.

External links

Advertisements

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Killers, a 1946 film also known as Ernest Hemingway's The Killers, is an intense, hard-edged, stylish film noir of robbery, unrequited love, brutal betrayal and double-cross.

Directed by Robert Siodmak. Written by Anthony Veiller, based on a story by Ernest Hemingway
Every kiss carved his name on another bullet.taglines
Spoiler warning: Plot, ending, or solution details follow.

Contents

Jim Reardon

  • This isn't a two-for-a-nickel shooting. Two professional killers show up in a small town and put the blast on a filling station attendant. A nobody. There was no attempted robbery. They were out for only one thing. To kill him. Why?
  • [to Dum Dum] You don't know what the Swede did with the money or you wouldn't be here tearing his room to pieces. But maybe you do know things that put together with the things I know will tell me where the money is.
  • [to Dum Dum, about Kitty] I think she knows where the money is...The Swede and some girl checked into an Atlantic City hotel the night of the holdup. Two days later, the girl took a powder. I've got an idea the dough went with her.
  • It was Kitty Collins and not the Swede that reaped the golden harvest...When the gang met to divvy up after the robbery, the Swede pulled a fast one and walked off with the whole take...That same night, he and Kitty were together in Atlantic City. She walked out on him a couple of days later. The money disappeared when she did.
  • [to Kitty] As soon as you could break away, you left him flat. I'd like to have known the old Kitty Collins. You were in the clear because no one knew you'd been with the Swede. You had nothing to fear from anyone. Too bad it had to catch up with you now.
  • [to Colfax] He (Dum Dum) said Kitty brought him word at midnight about the changed meeting place. The half-way house didn't burn down 'till nearly three in the morning. That meant Kitty had a partner. And who could it be but you.

Sam Lubinsky

  • You're through...That hand will never be good again - not for fighting...It's a lucky thing. You aren't punchy yet. Now suppose it was your brains were scrambled instead of your hand.
  • She was always in love with him...and I was always in love with her. It worked out fine for me, anyway.

Charleston

  • For nearly two years, we weren't never more than eight and a half feet apart. That's how big the cell was.
  • You see that bright star in the center...brightest star in all the heavens. Only it's so far away, it don't seem like it.
  • A girl don't write. That don't mean she's sick like you might think. Not necessarily.
  • If it's as big as you claim, it's not gonna be any easy pickings. Nothin' that big ever is.
  • Stop listening to those golden harps, Swede. They can land you into a lot of trouble.

'Blinky' Franklin

  • If that guy don't call by 10:30, we better get started anyway. Yeah, each one steal his own heap [car]...I never was in a hat factory before... Gimme two cards. I'll take three. If this rain keeps us, they'll be mud up to the axles on them hick roads. How many miles of dirt road is it to the half-way house? I don't like anything about capers in the rain. Rain always gives me the creeps. I hate rain.
  • Step on it, can't you get any more out of it than this? Looks like a good clean getaway. That's too bad you had to shoot that guy at the gate...Did it look like 200 G's to you? Most money I ever saw at once. Wonder if the others are plannin' the same luck we are. They should be - they got away before we did. I guess the Swede made it all right. I seen him running for his heap and nobody was between him and it. Sure, he got away. Keep your eyes peeled for Polk Road. It's a left turn there, yeah. A left on Polk Road. We oughta be there in another five minutes. Hello, farmer.

Big Jim Colfax

  • The job comes first. But afterwards, we'll have business together.
  • If there's one thing I hate, it's a double-crossing dame...the Swede never had a chance, did he? Any one of the gang that ran onto him would have been sure to knock him off. You might say Kitty Collins signed his death warrant.
  • If you do run onto her, let me know, will ya? After you're through with her, I'd like to have a word or two with Kitty myself. We got some unfinished business.

Kitty Collins

  • I hadn't seen him for a long time, but the minute I laid eyes on him, I knew. He was always looking at me. And it doesn't sound like very much, but he always carried a handkerchief I'd given him...I hated my life, only I wasn't strong enough to get away from it. All I could do was dream of some big payoff that would let me quit the whole racket. The Swede was my chance to make my dream come true. If I could only be alone with him for a few hours. But Colfax was always there. I thought it was hopeless. Then suddenly, my chance came.
  • Colfax sent me to tell the others what had happened and that they would meet at the farmer's instead. I went to Blinky Franklin first, and then to Dum Dum. I saved the Swede 'till last. It was nearly two in the morning when I got there.

Others

  • Swede Andersen: Nobody can cheat me and get away with it.
  • Nick Adams: He wasn't a bad sort of fella...easy enough to get along with.
  • Lilly: Right then, I knew the boat had sailed and poor Ole had fallen in love with dynamite.

Dialogue

Al: [after learning that the dinner menu is unavailable until 6] Everything we want's on the dinner. That the way you work it, huh? What do you do here nights?
Max: They eat the dinner. They all come here and eat the big dinner.
Manager: That's right.
Al: You're a pretty bright boy, aren't ya??
Manager: Sure.

Max: I'll tell ya what's gonna happen. We're gonna kill the Swede. You know big Swede that works over at that filling station?
Manager: You mean Pete Lunn?
Max: If that's what he calls himself. Comes in every night at six o'clock, don't he?
Manager: Yes, if he comes.
Al: We know all about that.
Manager: What are ya gonna kill him for? What did Pete Lunn ever do to you?
Max: He never had a chance to do anything to us. He never even seen us.
Al: He's only gonna see us once.
Manager: What are ya gonna kill him for?
Max: We're killin' him for a friend.

Swede: There's nothin' I can do about it.
Nick: I could tell you what they look like.
Swede: I don't want to know what they're like. Thanks for comin'.
Nick: Don't you want me to go and see the police?
Swede: No. That wouldn't do any good.
Nick: Isn't there something I could do?
Swede: There ain't anything to do.
Nick: Couldn't you get out of town?
Swede: No. I'm through with all that runnin' around.
Nick: Why do they wanna kill ya?
Swede: I did something wrong - once. Thanks for comin'.

Reardon: Good morning, Stella.
Stella: Good morning, dream boy.

Swede: Do you like the fights?
Kitty: I'm afraid I've never seen one.
Swede: No kiddin'.
Kitty: I hate brutality, Mr. Andersen. The idea of two men beating each other to a pulp makes me ill.
Lilly: I saw all Swede's fights.
Kitty: How wonderful of you! I could never bear to see a man I really cared for being hurt. [Kitty is called away, and slinks off]
Swede: She's beautiful.

Swede: You know what harps mean?
Charleston: Angels play 'em.
Swede: They mean Ireland. That's why they call them Mick's harps. Kitty's Irish. She give me this.

Kitty: [To Big Jim] What'sa matter with you?...You're nervous. You're all in a sweat.
Colfax: You keep your mouth shut if you don't want it slapped shut. You've been askin' for it lately.
Swede: Hey!
Colfax: Any objections?
Swede: Yeah.
Dum Dum: Keep out of this, Swede. She's his girl.
Kitty: Mind your own business, Swede. I can take care of myself. [To Big Jim] You touch me and you won't live 'till morning.

Blinky: He shouldn't have hit you...
Doctor: Beats me. I don't know what keeps him going.
Reardon: Will he be able to talk anymore?
Doctor: He's dead now, except he's breathing.

Swede: Swell idea you guys had. Leave me holdin' the bag at the half-way house while you split up the dough, huh?...
Colfax: The half-way house burnt down last night. That's why we came here.
Swede: Somebody ought to have let me know.
Colfax: You were told, you're here.
Swede: Next time, play it straight.

Kitty: I thought you didn't like the Green Cat.
Reardon: Only when I'm not expected.

Kitty: Can you put me away, Mr. Reardon?
Reardon: Blinky Franklin made a deathbed statement under oath. There's no stronger testimony. And there's a chambermaid in an Atlantic City hotel that has a memory for faces. Well?
Kitty: Oh, there's no use kidding myself. I'd do anything you wanted. Give you every penny I could lay my hands on.
Reardon: How many pennies is that?
Kitty: Well, I might be able to raise $65, $70 thousand at the most.
Reardon: Not enough.
Kitty: That's all I could possibly get together. I'm not stalling, Mr. Reardon, not now. I know when I'm beaten. I'm fighting for my life, not Kitty Collins' life, but mine. I have a home now and a husband. I've got a life worth fighting for, and there's nothing in this world I wouldn't do to keep it just the way it is.
Reardon: Well, we might still be able to do business if you put a prize in with the CrackerJack.
Kitty: What do you mean?
Reardon: I wanna fall guy when it's over.
Kitty: Who would that be?
Reardon: Colfax.
Kitty: Even the old Kitty Collins never sang, Mr. Reardon.

Kitty: I'm taking my life in my hands coming to you like this, but I just couldn't stand by, not after what you did for me that time in Philly.
Swede: Forget that. Why are you here now?
Kitty: Colfax thinks I'm on my way to New York. He's meeting me there tomorrow. But I just had to come to you, Swede, and tell you.
Swede: Tell me what?
Kitty: They're planning to double-cross you.
Swede: Who is?
Kitty: Colfax and the others. They don't intend for you ever to get a smell of the money from tomorrow's job.
Swede: How do you know that?
Kitty: Colfax sprung it tonight on Dum Dum and Blinky right after you left. First, he called you names and said dirty things about you. And then he sprung it. What if they were not to go to the half-way house after the robbery? You'd go there, but they'd be someplace else, and so would the money.
Swede: What did Blinky and Dum Dum say?
Kitty: They fell right in with the idea.
Swede: Where are they gonna meet?
Kitty: The farmhouse north of town on Polk Road, eleven miles out on the turnpike. Colfax hates you, Swede, so much so that Blinky and Dum Dum have caught it from him and they hate you too.
Swede: Thanks for putting me wise, Kitty.
Kitty: What are you gonna do? Swede - what are you gonna do?
Swede: I'm gonna do them like they mean to do me.
Kitty: Promise me one thing. You won't give me away. If Colfax ever found out what I did...
Swede: Don't you worry.
Kitty: You know why Colfax hates you? Because of me. He's no fool. He sees what's happened.
Swede: Why did you ever go back to him, Kitty?
Kitty: Maybe because I hate him. I'm poison, Swede, to myself and everybody around me. I'd be afraid to go with anyone I love for the harm I'd do them. I don't care harming him.
Swede: [He pulls Kitty into his arms] You're not meetin' him tomorrow.
Kitty: All right, Swede. [They embrace and kiss passionately]

Colfax: I guess our luck's run out, Kitty. [To Reardon] You didn't have anything on her before now, did ya?
Reardon: No, but I had to make you think so. And I was sure you'd try to knock me off before I could find out Kitty was your wife.
Colfax: You knew that too, huh?
Reardon: Married people can't testify against each other. Otherwise, I would have tried playing you off one against each other, instead of making myself a target for those gunmen of yours...
Lubinsky: What I don't get is, why you sent those two killers to blast the Swede? He wasn't doing ya any harm there in Brentwood. Why didn't ya let well enough alone?
Colfax: I couldn't. Suppose one of the gang ran into him, same as I did. They were after the money, if he had a chance to tell his story, and that would've been the end of it. They knew Kitty and I were married and they've seen through the frame-up. Anyhow, if I hadn't had him knocked off, he would've wondered why, and begun thinking.
Kitty: Jim! Jim!! Tell 'em I didn't know anything. Jim, listen to me. You can save me. Jim, do ya hear me? Tell them I didn't know those gunmen were coming. Say, 'Kitty is innocent. I swear, Kitty is innocent.' Say it, Jim, say it! It'll save me if you do.
Lubinsky: Don't ask a dyin' man to lie his soul into hell.
Kitty: 'Kitty is innocent. I swear, Kitty is innocent.'
Reardon: It's no use, Kitty. Your would-be fall guy is dead.
Kitty: Come back, Jim, tell them. Come back! SAVE ME! Jim! 'Kitty is innocent! I swear! Kitty is innocent! Kitty is innocent! I swear, Kitty is innocent! Kitty is innocent!'

Kenyon: And the Swede never knew his girl had gone straight back to Colfax with all the money. As for the others, they had no idea she'd ever been away from Colfax...And Colfax framed the whole thing, just so he wouldn't have to split the take.
Reardon: The double-cross to end all double-crosses!

Taglines

  • Every kiss carved his name on another bullet.
  • TENSE! TAUT! TERRFIFIC! told the untamed Hemingway way!

Cast

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message