Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Killing [1956]


The Killing was the then 28-year old Stanley Kubrick’s third feature film direction; however, where his immense capabilities coming to public knowledge was concerned, it might very well be considered his first. Though nowhere as famous as some of his later, more universally recognized movies, this gem of a hardboiled noir still ranks as one of his finest works. The movie is about a motley group of regular Joes, led by veteran crook Johny Clay (immaculately played by Sterling Hayden) planning his last caper, who plan to execute the perfect heist by robbing a racetrack of $2 million. But then, as we all know, there’s no such thing as perfect crime, and Johny’s best laid plans go awry for reasons ranging from human flaws to plain bad luck. Though the movie’s fatalistic themes as well as its basic storyline have been heavily inspired from John Huston’s noir masterpiece Asphalt Jungle, Kubrick made the movie his own by unraveling the story in chronologically fractured sequences and through complex use of flashbacks. Striking B/W photography – the scene where Johny details his plan in a dimly-lit smoke-filled room was a clincher, top-drawer performances by its largely B-list actors, and gripping, fluid narrative made this a remarkable, albeit deeply nihilistic piece of film noir.








Director: Stanley Kubrick
Genre: Crime Thriller/Film Noir/Heist Movie
Language: English
Country: US

6 comments:

theseventhart said...

And what a funny movie too... If possible check out Bob the Gambler too...

Shubhajit said...

Yeah. In fact the commotion created by the wrestler at the racetracks, too, was a funny and memorable scene!

Dave said...

Love, love, LOVE this movie! It's my favorite Kubrick film quite easily. You're spot on in terms of the influence of The Asphalt Jungle, which is another great noir. And you can see influence that it has had on later crime dramas as well (mainly with the unique backward storyline set up). Excellent work here and we're in complete agreement on this one. A truly great film.

Shubhajit said...

We're indeed in complete agreement on this one. A truly splendid movie by Kubrick, though I'm sure not many associate him with this wonderful noir movie. In fact I think this could very well rank as one of the earliest movies to employ non-linear narrative - something a lot of great filmmakers have done since. Thanks a lot Dave for your comment.

Dave said...

That's a great point too, Shuhajit, about the fact that outside of dedicate movie fans, not a lot of people associate Kubrick with this noir. He is almost always (and somewhat understandably) applauded for 2001, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, etc... and this one is often overlooked.

Shubhajit said...

Yeah, and that's really sad. I feel for any work of art - good or bad, being overlooked, ignored or forgotten is a far worse treatment than even the harshest of criticism.