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The Killing

The Killing (1956)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Critic Reviews: 7
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

92

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 21,021

My Rating

Movie Info

The Killing was director Stanley Kubrick's first major film effort -- though, like Kubrick's earlier films, it was economically produced with an inexpensive cast. In a variation of his Asphalt Jungle role, Sterling Hayden plays veteran criminal Johnny Clay, planning one last big heist before settling down to a respectable marriage with Fay (Colleen Gray). Teaming with several cohorts, Johnny masterminds a racetrack robbery. The basic flaw is that all the crooks involved are losers and

Unrated,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson

Aug 15, 2001

United Artists - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (1) | DVD (12)

Faultless and enjoyable.

June 24, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

At 27 Writer-Director Stanley Kubrick, in his third full-length picture, has shown more audacity with dialogue and camera than Hollywood has seen since the obstreperous Orson Welles went riding out of town on an exhibitors' poll.

August 3, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (2)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[The film] at first tends to be somewhat confusing, soon settles into a tense and suspenseful vein which carries through to an unexpected and ironic windup.

May 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Arguably Stanley Kubrick's most perfectly conceived and executed film.

May 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (2)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Characteristically Kubrick in both its mechanistic coldness and its vision of human endeavour undone by greed and deceit, this noir-ish heist movie is nevertheless far more satisfying than most of his later work.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An engrossing little adventure.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the undisputed high-water marks of the American crime film whose reverberations can still be felt in a number of ways.

March 31, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Underneath The Killing's clockwork violence is a pungent layer of irony, something Kubrick would further explore many times later in his career.

September 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A brisk, satisfying film noir that features all the details of a racetrack heist gone wrong - even if the timeline is all shuffled out of order. It's thick with atmosphere and razor-sharp dialogue.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

Despite this only being his third feature and his first with a significant budget, Kubrick displays many of the thematic preoccupations and visual traits that would come to define his unique, cinematic voice.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

A tight heist thriller from master director Stanley Kubrick.

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

May be the greatest of American heist films because it bursts the genre to the point of existentialism.

October 19, 2010 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

1956 and it's already Kubrick, being Kubrick.

January 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Kubrick made grander and greater films, but this is among his most dramatic.

October 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Even though he was just staring out, Kubrick instantly mastered the crime genre. A stunning film.

October 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Stanley Kubrick's masterful manipulation of chronology brings an excruciating sense of doom to The Killing, a classical noir about a carefully threaded heist unraveled by the scheming of a fiendish femme.

May 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine | Comment (1)
Slant Magazine

Stanley Kubrick's third film established him as a full-fledged filmmaker and a potential master.

February 4, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Kubrick's breakthrough film is one of his very best, a classic film noir that has influenced many directors (including Tarantino) in narrative structure, visual style, and tone.

June 28, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Com uma estrutura narrativa avançada para sua época, este longa é mais uma prova (desnecessária, claro) de que Kubrick sempre foi um Mestre em sua arte.

January 6, 2004
Cinema em Cena

Hardboiled early Kubrick.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Strongly recommended for any film noir fan -- it's full of double-crosses and surprises, loaded with honest crooks, weak men, one wicked woman and some great two-fisted dialogue.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix
Netflix

Audience Reviews for The Killing

Sorry, was I missing something here? I found this to be abhorrent.
February 27, 2013
CreedsDelight

Super Reviewer

Fresh out of prison, a career criminal cooks up an ingenious scheme to rob a racetrack. The Killing is an early film from Stanley Kubrick and yet another masterclass. He takes to the visual trappings of Film Noir and creates one of the most efficiently told and tautly directed heist films ever made. Sterling Hayden is perfect as the straight-talking, street-wise mastermind, as is Marie Windsor's Machiavellian femme fatale who twists doomed sap Elisha Cook Jr round her little finger. So much of this film has influenced some of the best directing talent working today that it still feels remarkably contemporary; Tarantino owes much to the over-lapping timeline in particular and the mix of off beat characters, violent crime and cruel twists of fate is straight out of a Cohen brothers movie (Timothy Carey actually looks the spit of Peter Stormare in this film!). In fact the only element that dates it is the newsreel style voice over, although it does help fit the pieces of puzzle together quite well. Johnny Clay was a brilliant character whom I would have liked to have learned more about, to the point where you are almost sorry to see him caught. But wishing the film was longer is hardly the most damning criticism! Is there any genre Kubrick couldn't do?
December 25, 2012
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

If your a collctor of Film Noir do not allow this one to slip through the cracks. Stanley Kubrick set the bar high for Robberyt Gone Bad films after he released this one. A thrilling crime drama way ahead of its time. 5 Stars 8-2-12
September 20, 2012
bbcfloridabound
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

There are two types of heist films: one relies merely on the act of the robbery to hold the audience's attention, and the other explores the psychology and meticulous nature of planning a robbery. For me, I'm with Truffaut in naming Riffifi as the undisputed "king of the heist film," but The Killing is a great example of the latter. Sure, Sterling Hayden is as stiff and wooden as ever, but he is bailed out by an exemplary supporting cast (minus the awful Coleen Gray, who thankfully only really has one scene). And of course, there's Kubrick's show-stopping dolly shots, and his patented lighting schemes. What he lacked in Fear and Desire and Killer's Kiss, he perfected in The Killing. Getting this complete, assuredly paced film under his belt would go on to be the impetus for him to create some of the greatest cinematic achievements in the 20th century.

A lot has been made of the narration being sometimes irritating, that it carries a kind of B-movie police drama expository tone, and the information is too much. I would argue that the narration was necessary in establishing and maintaining the complex and non-sequential plot, and that the information is an interesting mold in the film's structure. It adds on a layer to that existentialist subtext, as every description makes it sounds like the narrator's a reporter looking back on the past events with a (detached) objectivity. Every aspect of the plan is on a rigid schedule (time of day is consistently highlighted throughout), but even the most stringent, meticulous of plans can't avoid the inevitable disruption of chance, luck, or in this case, fate.
April 7, 2012
JonathanHutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

    1. Sherry Peatty: You've never been a liar, George. You don't have enough imagination to lie.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. George Peatty: None of these men are criminals in the usual sense. They've all got jobs, they all live seemingly normal, decent lives, but they got their problems and they've all got a little larceny in 'em.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Johnny Clay: You know, Fay, the mistake I made before was shooting for peanuts. Five years have taught me one thing, if nothing else. If you take a chance, be sure the reward's worth the risk. They can put you away just as fast for a ten-dollar heist as for a million.
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. George Peatty: I gotta go out. I don't suppose there's anything for dinner?
    2. Sherry Peatty: Of course there is. There are all sorts of things. Well, steak and asparagus and potatoes
    3. George Peatty: I don't smell nothin'
    4. Sherry Peatty: That figures. You're too far away from it.
    5. George Peatty: Too far away?
    6. Sherry Peatty: Certainly. You don't think I had it cooked, do you? It's down the shopping centre
    – Submitted by Victor M (10 months ago)
    1. Johnny Clay: You'll be loaded with a capital L.
    – Submitted by Paul B (12 months ago)
View all quotes (5)

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