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The Killers (Criterion Collection 2-Disc Special Edition) (Double Feature 1946 & 1964 Versions) [DVD]

Lee Marvin , Angie Dickinson , Aleksandr Gordon , Andrei Tarkovsky    Unrated   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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The Killers (Criterion Collection 2-Disc Special Edition) (Double Feature 1946 & 1964 Versions) [DVD] + Thieves' Highway (The Criterion Collection)
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The Killers (1946)
This 1946 adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's short story adds well over an hour of new material to the original tale. The reason is, while director Robert Siodmak, star Burt Lancaster, and an outstanding supporting cast are faithful to Hemingway's work, his story only takes up about 15 minutes of screen time. Burt Lancaster plays the doomed man sought by hired guns in a small town. Hemingway's bruisingly concise dialogue makes an early sequence set in a diner quite unnerving, but after the killers dispense with their prey, Siodmak turns to an insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) who looks into the reasons behind the murder. An exemplary film noir (complete with a fickle femme fatale played by Ava Gardner), The Killers is all mood and fatalism.

The Killers (1964)
The 1964 remake (of sorts) by Don Siegel builds another whole world around Hemingway's narrow, if intense, premise. The two assassins of Siegel's film (Clu Gulager, Lee Marvin) go in search of their intended victim--a teacher (John Cassavetes) at a school for the blind--and find that he not only recognizes his fate when they show up, but seems entirely resigned to it. Curiosity leads the killers to seek out the party who hired them and discover why Cassavetes's character didn't run or fight. Soon the facts tumble into place--the dead man had once been a top-drawer racer who fell for a glamorous woman (Angie Dickinson), the latter gradually pulling him into the orbit of a criminal villain (a convincingly evil Ronald Reagan)--and the film becomes increasingly dark and dangerous. Originally shot for television but rejected for its violence, Siegel's film is a blistering experience of swimming against the currents of fate for one's survival--and losing. --Tom Keogh


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debunking " The Killers" April 22 2003
Format:DVD
This is a superb double CD set that has many features we have all been waiting for.
Hal Wallis spotted Burt Lancaster and put him under contract and as happens so often after a brief stint in "Sound Of Hunting"
Lancaster was around for his breakthrough role.
With Mark Hellinger and Bob Siodmak at the controls we have a REAL classic noir/crime film..The supporting cast is terrific especially Ava Gardner in her first real acting role, pros like Albert Dekker and Jeff Corey ( Blinky Franklin ..what a name for a guy who has the monkey on his back), Charleston, Dum Dum..and Sam Levene and Ed O'Brien add to the suspense..
The DVD allows us to look further into the film as never before..Miklos Rosza's great score..to be used later by Jack Webb, how Hemmingways'piece was expanded..and nice bios..on many of the actors...
1964 " The Killers" illuminates how A SUPERB film maker , Don Siegal reworks the story for the 1964 audience..updates the people involved with a fine supporting cast..Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager are amusing and deadly..John Cassavetes plays the Ole Anderson role and also a fine turn by veteran Claude Akins.
Clu Gulager's sons produce a really fine monologue by their father..he is introspective..has some wonderful anecdotes on Lee Marvin and Don Siegal..and shares some nice memories about the making of the film " The Killers" This is one of the best pieces I have ever seen on DVD!
A Double Dynamite of a DVD package that is very illustrative of the 20 years difference between and how things change yet remain the same..
CP
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty film noir at its best! Jan. 16 2004
By Cubist
Format:DVD
Why would a man, who knows he's about to die, not care enough to save himself when he has the chance? This question lies at the centre of Ernest Hemingway's short story, "The Killers." It would be a question that would inspire three filmmakers to create their own cinematic adaptations of Hemingway's tale. The folks at Criterion have collected all three versions of The Killers and presented them in a comprehensive two-DVD set.
The first DVD, with the 1946 version, features an impressive introduction into the film noir genre. Author and screenwriter, Stuart Kaminsky is interviewed at length about the origins of film noir and the similarities and differences between the 1946 and 1964 versions and how they compare to Hemingway's original short story.
In an amazing bit of cinematic archaeology, Criterion found Russian filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky's take on The Killers. It's very minimalist in style and set design but is quite faithful to Hemingway's story.
Another highlight on this disc is writer-director, Paul Schrader's seminal essay, "Notes on Film Noir." Schrader outlines and defines the characteristics of film noir and puts it into a historical context.
The second disc, with the 1964 version, doesn't feature as many extras but does present a fascinating look at how Siegel's film evolved from a made-for-TV movie to a theatrical release. Some of the highlights include a hilarious memo from NBC's Broadcast Standards Department as they outline all the objectionable material they found in the screenplay. It becomes readily apparent that Siegel ignored all their suggestions and kept in all the offending material!
For fans of film noir this is an essential purchase as these two films are given the deluxe Criterion treatment. The prints of both films have been lovingly re-mastered and have never looked better. The wealth of extras entertain and educate, making this set an excellent primer for anyone interested in learning more about film noir.
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Format:DVD
This review is on the 1946 version of The Killers (1946). The copy I rented did not contain the other version. Two killers, Al (Charles McGraw) and Max (William Conrad) are in a diner giving orders to the diner manager (Harry Hayden) of Henry's Diner and telling the customer to move to the other side of the counter. The black cook is tied up in the back too. They are waiting for "Swede" (Burt Lancaster in his film debut). Finally, the manager convinces them that Swede would not be in at all if it's after 6:00pm. They were going to kill Swede during his dinner at the diner. Nick (Phil Brown) runs to Swede's apartment. Swede is laying there on his bed in the dark. Nick tells him someone is out to get him. As soon as Nick leaves, the killers walk upstairs, open the door, and kill Swede. Now it's a case for Edmond O'Brien (D.O.A [1950]) to solve and what wrong thing did Swede do only once. "Sam" is played by Sam Levene who you may have seen in After The Thin Man (1936), Act One (1963). Virginia Christine is "Lily". You remember her as "Mrs. Olson" in the Folgers Coffee commercials.
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Format:DVD
The first thing I would like to say is that "The Killers," is a superb production from the people at Criterion. Long renowned for the excellence of their titles, they really have outdone themselves this time 'round. Not only do we have the two feature length versions of Hemmingway's story, from 1946 and 1964 respectively, but we have a wonderfully atmospheric audio reading of the original by Stacy Keach, a 1949 radio adaptation, AND Andriie Tarkovsky's 1956 student film version; "The Killers" x 5!!! Of the rest of the extensive "extras," the jewel in the crown is an interview with Clu Gulager, filmed in 2002, in which he tells some great stories about the 1964 production, and Lee Marvin in particular!
As much as I'm a huge fan of Film Noir, and Burt Lancaster, I have to admit I'd never even heard of the original 1946 version... shame on me! No, I bought this for the masterful Don Siegel version, staring Marvin, Gulager, Angie Dickenson, John Cassavetes, and in his only "bad guy" role, the future President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan! Indeed, it was one of the first films I looked for on DVD when I got my shiny-disc machine, and this is somewhat surprising, as I'd only ever seen the film once, sometime back in the 70's, on British TV!
This film, especially its electrifying final scenes, featuring an incredible performance by Marvin, seared itself into my memory for the better part of 30 years, and watching it again after all this time has NOT been a disappointment! The character of hit man "Charlie Strom" was, for me, the defining image of Lee Marvin. Tough - damn, forget "tough," we're talking hard-as-nails here! - menacing, cold, logical, world weary, and brutal, when the situation warrants it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars First rate Film Noir
The Killers from 1946, Burt Lancaster's debut movie, is fantastic. It is one of the finest in the noir genre. Ava Gardner is a truly devilish femme fetale. Read more
Published on March 28 2004 by Gregory Olsen
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must have for any collector of classic entertainment.
What more can I add to the reviews below? The Clu Gulager interview is absolutely fantastic. He reveals some very interesting facts regarding the filming and makes strong positive... Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2003 by Trevor William Douglas
5.0 out of 5 stars Who's the bright boy?
I remember at 13 years being struck with wonder at the power of the dialogue in Hemingway's The Killers and if I recall correctly walked around the streets talking to myself,... Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2003 by Ian Muldoon
5.0 out of 5 stars reagan at his best
Seeing Ronald Reagan's performance in this movie is what made me vote for him for president. In fact, I liked him much better in "The Killers" than I did his presidency.
Published on July 15 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Awsome Viewing
Without a doubt this is one of the best produced DVD,s made yet. The extras are just right,no unnecessary items added just to make room. Read more
Published on July 12 2003 by S. Doyle
2.0 out of 5 stars Cinematographic Masterpiece - Inferiorally Transferred
The Killers (1946) is an excellent film noir that is virtual eye candy. Every scene is beautifully shot with intense blacks, pristine whites and shadowy silhouettes. Read more
Published on May 27 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent dvd package
Criterion has made one of their best dvd's yet. On disc one, there is an amazing adaptation by Robert Siodmak. This for me is the highlight of the set. Read more
Published on April 12 2003 by Jheez
3.0 out of 5 stars HEMINGWAY X 3
More than sex, food or survival, we are creatures driven to find meaning in our lives (or so it's said by those who claim to know such things). Read more
Published on March 3 2003 by Robin Simmons
3.0 out of 5 stars HEMINGWAY X 3
More than sex, food or survival, we are creatures driven to find meaning in our lives (or so it's said by those who claim to know such things). Read more
Published on March 3 2003 by Robin Simmons
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