1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Tightly plotted, hamstrung by dialogue.,
This review is from: Killing, the (DVD)The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
For many years, I have been fond of saying that the only Kubrick film I could stomach was Lolita. While The Killing isn't up to those standards (and certainly doesn't rate a spot in IMDB's Top 250, where it sits as I write this), it's certainly a film with rewatchability potential.
Johnny Clay (The Godfather's Sterling Hayden) has just gotten out after a five-year stint in prison, and needs cash. He concocts a scheme to knock over a racetrack to the tune of $2 million, give or take a few rubles. Putting together a core team of five guys, and with two on the periphery, they plan and execute the crime. That, of course, is when things start getting interesting.
This is good, solid film noir, for the most part. Where it fails to make the cut are in the narration (and Kubrick's bouncing back and forth in time like a pinball, which necessitates it) and the dialogue, written by cult favorite Jim Thompson (The Grifters, The Killer Inside Me, etc). The dialogue has about as much meat to it as one finds in a typical Spillane novel; it's fun, but "timeless" is not a word I'd use to describe it by a longshot. That being the case, it's hard for the actors involved to really get their heads around most parts; they do the best they can with what they have, and in some cases, that's enough to make the characters come alive. Elisha Cook, Jr., is especially good, despite having some of the most ineffectual dialogue ever written for a straight mystery film.
The strongest part of the film, on the other hand, is the ending, a shaggy-dog-story style beauty that would later appear in a different form in Ocean's Eleven (the original, good version, not that overblown Soderbergh piece of trash). It is inevitable, and beautiful.
Worth watching, but don't expect greatness. ***