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The Killers [Blu-ray]
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BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
Ernest Hemingway’s simple but gripping short tale “The Killers” is a model of economical storytelling. Two directors adapted it into unforgettably virile features: Robert Siodmak (Criss Cross), in a 1946 film that helped define the noir style and launch the acting careers of Burt Lancaster (Sweet Smell of Success) and Ava Gardner (On the Beach); and Don Siegel (Dirty Harry), in a brutal 1964 version, starring Lee Marvin (Point Blank), Angie Dickinson (Rio Bravo), and John Cassavetes (Rosemary’s Baby), that was intended for television but deemed too violent for home audiences and released theatrically instead. The first is poetic and shadowy, the second direct and harsh as daylight, but both get at the heart of Hemingway’s existential classic.
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Top Customer Reviews
While neither film is really a true "remake" of Hemingway's too short story, the 1946 version is much closer to the mark in attempting to flesh it out. His story is all about the opening sequence, which is done well in the movie and is fairly unique and compelling. William Conrad as a mobster is particularly effective but ends up playing a minor role for the rest of the film, which is never truly able to meet the expectations the beginning created. Also, although Lancaster and Gardner are in the movie plenty, in some ways they aren't even the lead characters. For me, Sam Levene playing a police lieutenant was the most interesting actor. Ultimately there is enough in the film to give it 4 stars for the sum of interesting aspects interspersed throughout what would ordinarilly be a pretty average movie.
For Lee Marvin fans the 1964 version might be the main reason to pick this up. However, this version was much less true to Hemingway's vision, which would be perfectly fine if it still made for a good movie. It was 3 stars at best, in some ways most interesting for its in your face, matter of fact style. Angie Dickinson plays a much more prominent role in this version as the femme fatale than Ava Gardner did, but that also dramatically changed the chemistry of the movie. The race car driver character played by John Cassavetes is what really drags the movie down, particularly after seeing Lancaster play the same role. I soldiered through it just to see Ronald Reagan in the end sporting a revolver with a silencer, which was definitely worth it, and the ending of the movie was good and saved it from 2 star status.
Ultimately these two movies have less in common than most people would anticipate, and are really only loosely connected. Still, if you look at this for getting the 1946 version, but then end up also getting what would be a really "killer" free bonus feature of the 1964 version, you can still justify the purchase. And the bonus features do include yet another (shorter) take from 1956 as well (thanks Criterion). Picture and sound are excellent.
On balance, 3 1/2 stars and worth getting if the price is right or you are a particular fan of someone.If you are looking for interesting truer noir though, Criterion has much better fare out there. This Japanese noir film is truly amazing: Pale Flower (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].