Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Killing


The Killing; Crime, USA, 1956; D: Stanley Kubrick, S: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Ted De Corsia, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen, Elisha Cook Jr.

Johnny Clay, a criminal who served a sentence in Alcatraz, plans together with his colleague Marvin and four other men a refined robbery. Their target is a local race track where apparently 2 million $ are deposited, while their plan is to distract the public - one man would start a fight while the other one would shoot a horse - causing a commotion in which Johnny would take the money and throw it out the window to a fellow police officer who would hide it. But one of their associates, George, told the plan to his greedy wife who informed some gangsters in order to steal the money away from them. In a clash, everyone dies, but George also kills his wife before he dies. The only survivor, Johnny, looses the money in a suitcase on the airport and gets arrested.

Excellent heist crime drama "The Killing", the third film and the first feature length achievement from director Stanley Kubrick, is an unjustifiably forgotten film from the director's rich opus: already the sole exposition where the narrator is introducing all the main protagonists, from a man who put a bet on every horse on a race track (and found out is isn't that affordable) up to the worker at the cash desk, George, who has an unstable relationship with his wife ("You didn't make me diner?" - "Yes, I did." - "Strange, I don't smell anything." - "You're too far away. The diner is in the supermarket!") is impressive and ruthlessly anti-idealistic for the typical '50s era. Despite meandering of the story from one character to another, the structure is incredibly stable, intriguing and smooth. The details are bizarre and expressionistic (Johnny hires two eccentrics to start a fight and shoot a horse at the race track to divert the attention of the pubic) and completed by a great visual style, while Kubrick displays the sole robbery four times, each time from the perspective of the different character (obviously influencing Tarantino's "Jackie Brown"), which is truly brilliant and "subtly" inventive, causing the film to be rightfully nominated for a BAFTA for best picture. Despite a raw presentation and "settle down" mood, "The Killing" offers all of Kubrick's later elements, from a cold style, surgical direction, misanthropic view at humanity and stimulative touch.

Grade:+++

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