Hardboiled early Kubrick. This lean, mean genre film is similar in mood and structure to John Huston's earlier THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, but many of Kubrick's characteristic obsessions are already firmly in place: fatally flawed humans, complicated interlocking timetables and meticulous plans
Johnny Clay (Hayden) is an ex-con who tells his childhood sweetheart, Fay (Gray), that he and a few others are going to make a "big score" that will be his last caper. During a race at the local racetrack he intends to rob the money room where the betting take is kept, while Nikki Arane (Carey), a
professional killer, shoots one of the horses on the far turn to create a diversion. Clay assembles a group of associates for the job, each with some problem that is getting too big for him to handle: Marvin Unger (Flippen), a retired friend; Randy Kennan (de Corsia), a cop who owes the syndicate
money; Mike O'Reilly (Sawyer), a bartender at the racetrack who needs money for his sick wife; and George Peatty (Cook), a cashier at the track with a money-grubbing wife (Windsor). They are all ordinary men "with a touch of larceny in their souls." Everything is planned down to the smallest
detail but things go terribly wrong.
THE KILLING brought Kubrick to the attention of the industry as a major directorial talent even though this film was produced on a small budget of $320,000--and it shows. The sets are like cardboard but Kubrick emphasizes that fact, panning his camera from one room to another, showing partitions,
devising every conceivable angle from which to shoot, so that the space in which his actors move appears as it really is, confining, cramped, and claustrophobic, reflecting the attitudes of his characters. The film's semi-documentary feel is only enhanced by its meticulous intersecting flashback
structure. Time becomes a palpable presence in this fatalistic film.
Hayden gives a stoical top drawer performance as the nominal leader of this unprofessional gang of thieves. Cook gives one of the best performances of his career as the henpecked little man who suffers an avalanche of insults from his wretched wife, Windsor, whose own performance is
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Hardboiled early Kubrick. This lean, mean genre film is similar in mood and structure to John Huston's earlier THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, but many of Kubrick's characteristic obsessions are already firmly in place: fatally flawed humans, complicated interlocking… (more)