The Killers (1946) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Killers (1946)

The Killers (1946)

The Killers




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Killers Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

The Killers uses Ernest Hemingway's short story as a springboard for a complex film noir. Two mysterious men (William Conrad and Charles McGraw) muscle their way into a small town and kill an aging boxer (Burt Lancaster, making his screen debut), who offers no resistance and seems to be welcoming his death. An insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) is hired to locate the beneficiary to Lancaster's policy, and in the course of his investigation reopens a long-dormant robbery case. In a series of flashbacks, O'Brien makes the connection between Lancaster and the robbery and tracks down the "brains" behind the operation. He also comes in contact with Lancaster's former girlfriend (Ava Gardner), whose duplicity played a big part in Lancaster's demise -- and his indifferent reaction to it. Siodmak's hard-edged, moody direction of the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Anthony Veiller, makes The Killers one of the definitive films noirs, including what is considered to be one of the greatest opening sequences in movie history.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Ernest Hemingway, Anthony Veiller, John Huston
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 14, 1998
Universal Pictures


Burt Lancaster
as Ole "Swede" Anderson
Ava Gardner
as Kitty Collins
Edmond O'Brien
as Jim Reardon
Albert Dekker
as Big Jim Colfax
Jeff Corey
as Blinky
Sam Levene
as Lt. Sam Lubinsky
Jack Lambert
as Dum Dum
Virginia Christine
as Lilly Lubinsky
John Miljan
as Jake the Rake
Garry Owen
as Joe Smalley, trainer
Audley Anderson
as Assistant Paymaster
Vince Barnett
as Charleston
Charles D. Brown
as Packy Robinson
Phil Brown
as Nick Adams
Harry Brown
as Paymaster
Howard Freeman
as Police Chief
John Berkes
as Plunther
Noel Cravat
as Lou Tringle
Vera Lewis
as Mrs. Hirsch
Howard Negley
as Policeman
Perc Launders
as Policeman
Therese Lyon
as Mrs. Grimes, houseke...
Jack Cheatham
as Police Driver
Ethan Laidlaw
as Conductor
Wally Rose
as Bartender
Mike Pat Donovan
as Timekeeper
Al Hill
as Customer
Ernie S. Adams
as Little Man
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Killers

Critic Reviews for The Killers

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (4)

Taken from Ernest Hemingway's story of the same title, picture is a hard-hitting example of forthright melodrama in the best Hemingway style. Performances without exception are top quality.

Full Review… | April 8, 2008
Top Critic

An example of film noir at its most expressive.

Full Review… | April 8, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's one of the great films of disenchantment.

Full Review… | February 7, 2008
Time Out
Top Critic

As mere movie melodrama, pieced out as a mystery which is patiently unfolded by a sleuthing insurance man, it makes a diverting picture.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

The movie darts around in time, constantly surprising and adding more depth to the character of The Swede. It's a psychological exploration of a man who was so worn down by life that he merely gave up.

Full Review… | October 7, 2015

Robert Siodmak directs this for maximum shadowy impact, aided by a crackerjack script from Anthony Veiller (and an uncredited John Huston) and stellar performances from a concrete-solid cast.

Full Review… | July 22, 2015
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for The Killers


When a gas pump attendant is executed by a pair of professional killers an insurance investigator starts digging to find out why. One of the quintessential benchmarks of Film Noir, The Killers is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway and was the launch platform for the careers of both Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. It's not often you'll see a film that kills off its hero in the first 10 minutes, but the brilliant opening scenes make sure you're hooked through til the bitter end as Noir stalwart Edmond O'Brien unravels the events leading up to the cold blooded assassination that is curiously almost welcomed by Lancaster. As the story is told in flashback, the brisk pace means that perhaps depth of character is sacrificed for economy but the heist, double crosses and allure of the stunning Gardner make sure your interest never wanes. Perhaps lacking the crackling chemistry of Bogart and Bacall or the razor blade dialogue of Chandler, it's still a gripping story involving a Femme that's not as quite as Fatale as you'd expect from Hemingway. Or maybe that's just my inner chump rationalizing for the sake of Ava's considerable charms...A classic detective story and must for Noir aficionados.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

From the opening scene, Siodmak introduces the audience to two of the best hitmen that the silver screen has to offer.. This breathtaking opening sure sets the tone for this fantastic 1946 film noir. While not as stylish and captivating as other famous Noirs such as Laura, this film still a classic.
Told mostly through flashbacks, this Hemingway story translates incredibly well to celluloid. Soidmak creates an intriguing & mysterious tale of crime with a great cast of no good double crossin' back-stabbers. Gardener is great as the deceptive beauty Kitty Collins. (Is there a better name for a femme fatale?)
This film is a great entry into the canon of great film Noirs and is worth a watch just to see Lancaster's on screen debut.

Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

The Killers has it all, the beautiful femme fatale (Ava Gardner), the likeable but unlucky hood (Burt Lancaster), the trench coated investigator (Edmond O'Brien) and the "fool-proof" crime that goes horribly wrong. If you liked Double Indemnity and The Asphalt Jungle then this one is a must-see.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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