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The Killing


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Editorial Reviews

When ex-con Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) says he has a plan to make a killing, everybody wants to be in on the action. Especially when the plan is to steal $2 million in a racetrack robbery scheme in which "no one will get hurt." But despite all their careful plotting, Clay and his men have overlooked one thing: Sherry Peatty (Marie Windsor), a money-hungry, double-crossing dame who's planning to make a financial killing of her own...even if she has to wipe out Clay's entire gang to do it! Directed in a revolutionary story-telling technique by the legendary Stanley Kubrick, The Killing is tough, taut, tense and one of the greatest crime thrillers ever made!

Special Features

  • 4-Page Booklet

Product Details

  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C. Flippen, Elisha Cook Jr.
  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: June 29, 1999
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792841395
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,399 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Killing" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on October 27, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
An ex-con engineers a race track heist in "The Killing," a taut and suspenseful film noir from director Stanley Kubrick. Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) is fresh out of Alcatraz after five years, and immediately goes to work on a job he figures to be worth upwards of two million dollars. He puts together a gang who are not real criminals, just "Some guys with problems and a little larceny in them." Marvin (Jay C. Flippen) is good for some front money Johnny needs; George (Elisha Cook Jr.) is a cashier at the track, and Mike (Joe Sawyer) is a bartender there; Randy (Ted de Corsia) is a cop with loan shark payment problems. Clay's got it all figured out, a precision plan that can't go wrong as long as everyone does his part and keeps quiet about it, before and after. But George has a wife, Sherry (Marie Windsor), who wants nice things, and he can't resist the temptation to let her know it's all going to get better real soon. Trouble is, Sherry has a boyfriend, Val (Vince Edwards), who has more than a little larceny in him, as well. As it is with all "perfect" plans, there are, after all, imperfections. The presentation of this film is not one of them, however; Kubrick keeps the tension high throughout, working with a tight narrative and an out of sequence chronology through which he dispenses bits of information, building the suspense, until it all fits together in the end like pieces of a giant puzzle (Much the same as Tarantino would do with "Pulp Fiction" many years later). The stoic delivery, coupled with the stark black and white photography of the film, creates an almost surreal, fatalistic ambience that works so well with this material; especially at the end, for it underscores the climax and heightens the drama of the final moment, all of which makes for a truly unforgettable scene.Read more ›
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Brian A. Glennon on November 13, 2002
Format: DVD
The movie: THE KILLING (1956) by Stanley Kubrick, was the film which brought the twenty-eight year old director to Hollywood's attention. Based on the 1955 crime novel CLEAN BREAK by Lionel White (and re-named THE KILLING for its 1988 redistribution), director Kubrick incorporated the author's use of the staggered time interval (which began in chapter eight) within this well balanced and tightly paced story of seven disparate characters brought together to orchestrate a logically planned two million dollar robbery of a race track in broad daylight.
A brilliant effort of film making by Stanley Kubrick as he demonstrated an impeccable choice in cast selection, choosing established 'B' movie actors such as: Elisha Cook, Jr. as George Peatty and Jay C. Flippen as Marvin Unger (both actors had appeared in "The Three Stooges" skits more than once); then Sterling Hayden as the main character, Johnny Clay: though one of the beauties of this film is that all of the actors had such memorable performances. The limited acting abilities of these stars only added to the subtle gritty reality of their lumpenprolitariat roles which carried this film as much as any special effect.
While Stanley Kubrick wrote the screenplay and maintained a number of elements from the book, he eliminated Lionel White's character of Maurice Cohen and had Johnny Clay assume those duties; and also replaced the boxer, Tex, with the burly (and hairy) wrestler Maurice Oboukhof for the spectacular bar room fight diversion. In the book, Marvin Unger deeply despised Johnny Clay; but in the movie, Unger demonstrated a fatherly pride and deep paternal admiration for Johnny Clay - the movie is noted for its admirable male commeraderie!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1998
Listen up Noir fans - get this film! The Killing is nothing short of brilliant. This little-known gem is also the U.S. directing debut of - hold onto your fedora - Stanley Kubrick! True fans of Noir crime fiction will also appreciate this: guess who wrote the screenplay? The master himself, Jim Thompson (also wrote the novels The Grifters, Aftter Dark..., The Killer Inside Me, Heed The Thunder). This film is a classic "caper" flick with Sterling Hayden giving us his terse, gruff best as the leader of a gang who wants to pull a payroll heist. Trouble, big, violent, ugly trouble ensues. I won't spoil it for you, but I promise this flick delivers in a big way and it is surprising how much they got away with given the year this baby was shot. Unlike many movies of the era, this thing pulls no punches and is about as subtle as a brass-knuckle sandwich. Footnote: real fans of the noir genre may also appreciate this. James Ellroy, author of L.A. Confidential (to name just one of his many outstanding novels), cited The Killing as his favorite film of all time and the inspiration behind many of his stories and characters.
ENJOY!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By ixta_coyotl on October 23, 2004
Format: DVD
If you haven't seen this yet, do yourself a favor and watch John Huston's Asphalt Jungle (1950) first. The Killing is an informal sequel/tribute which in my humble opinion is even better. I must admit I am not a big fan of Stanley Kubrick but I thought this film was great. It lacks star power but the performances are all excellent nonetheless and the story is innovative, tightly wound, and thoroughly entertaining. I should also mention that I thought Tarantino & Avary were primarily influenced by the likes of Melville, Truffaut, & Godard, but I now see that this film was at least as influential upon his neo gangsteresque mojo movement as anything from the French new wave. In fact it looks as if Tarantino borrowed excessively from here for the non-linear plot structure of his Pulp Fiction. In my opinion Stanley Kubrick's The Killing deserves a spot somewhere behind The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, and Touch of Evil as one of the better film noir efforts ever produced.
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