Hit men Charlie (Marvin) and Lee (Gulager) are ordered to go to a school for the blind and kill Johnny North (Cassavetes), one of the teachers there, who puts up no resistance. They wonder why he accepted his death so passively and who ordered him killed. The killers connect him to an
armored car heist several years before from which the money was never recovered. They learn that North was a race car driver in love with Sheila Farr (Dickinson), the mistress of crime czar Browning (Reagan). She had persuaded him to drive the getaway car in the armored car job and they planned to
double-cross Browning. But things did not work out that way. As they learn more about the story of the man they killed, the killers develop their own interest in its ultimate outcome.
This was Reagan's final film, and the only one in which he's the villain. THE KILLERS was originally produced for TV by NBC but censors determined it was too violent for that medium, so it was released in theaters. Reagan was reluctant to play the heavy, but the head of Universal at the time,
Reagan's former agent, talked him into accepting the part, a decision Reagan still regrets. Though the film does not stand up to the 1946 version with Burt Lancaster, it has its own pleasures, including Marvin's rather likable role of an assassin, the exciting robbery sequence, and, of course, the
villainous Reagan getting his just desserts. Two years later he was elected governor of California. And the rest is history.
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- Review: Hit men Charlie (Marvin) and Lee (Gulager) are ordered to go to a school for the blind and kill Johnny North (Cassavetes), one of the teachers there, who puts up no resistance. They wonder why he accepted his death so passively and who ordered him killed.… (more)
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