The Killing (1956)


This week on the challenge Rob has chosen the Stanley Kubrick The Killing, which is a film that I haven’t seen but it is from an icon of cinema so I will be watching hoping for the best.

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick (Screenplay) Lionel White (Novel)

Starring: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C Flippen, Ted de Corsia, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr

Plot: Crooks plan and execute a daring race-track robbery.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Dated, But Still Has Style

Story: The Killing starts at the horse tracks where Marvin Unger (Flippen) is not interested in watching the races but uses the knowledge of the outcomes to his advantage. We also meet Policeman Randy Kennan (Corsia) as he deals with personal issues from before the horse racing. We continue to meet the characters involved this time it is Johnny Clay (Hayden) who is trying to make sure his partner Fay (Gray) understands everything planned. George Peatty (Cook Jr) is trying to keep his high life going to impress his wife Sherry (Windsor).

We continue to see how everyone has an agenda with Sherry having an affair with Val (Edwards). Johnny is the ring leader for the job with Marvin, Randy, George and Mike, they will split the take five ways and the take will be $2 Million. We get to watch how the plan truly unfolds and learn whether the master plan goes down without a hitch.

The Killing leaves me wondering how to review this, do I look at how I feel about the film now or how I think it would look at the time of release. I have decided to go with how I felt about the film now. I have seen plenty of heist films now and they are all very flash and stylish so comparing this to any of them becomes almost impossible, but I can see how they got their ideas from. The style the film is shot in works to keep each chapter of the plan as a mystery even if it is easy to work out. I can see why people consider this a classic but I can’t help but feel that certain parts of his have dated. (7/10)

Actor Review

Sterling Hayden: Johnny Clay is the man pulling the strings in the heist, he brings the team together in the plan to take $2 Million as well as arranging to have others involved in the distractions for a small fee. Sterling does make for a great leading man with his plan. (7/10)

Jay C Flippen: Marvin Unger is the right hand man for Johnny, he gets involved in the more important parts of the plan because he knows how to stay calm through every potential exchange. Jay does give a solid performance but like most of the supporting characters end up feeling flat. (6/10)

Support Cast: The Killing has a supporting cast that is mostly part of the plan, each member plays their part to the final heist but not a single character ends up standing out.

Director Review: Stanley KubrickStanley puts his own style to the heist film which has easily be used to build the heist films we get today. (8/10)

Crime: The Killing plays out the whole heist through the film which help keep the crime style of the film shine through. (8/10)

Thriller: The Killing does keep us guessing to how the plan is going to work out. (8/10)

Settings: The Killing keeps the settings very heist based with a large part of the film in and around the horse race tracks. (8/10)

Suggestion: The Killing is one to watch because you will see how many ideas this film has given to the future directors ideas. (Watch)

Best Part: Airport scene.

Worst Part: Has dated

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Awards: Nominated for 1 BAFTA

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $320,000

Runtime: 1 Hour 25 Minutes

Tagline: …Like No Other Picture Since “Scarface” and “Little Caesar”!

Overall: The inspiration for all of the heist films we all know and love.



    • It would have been special film if you were around at the time of release, but i like to look at how first time viewers would see it and when you look at heist films i feel people would get frustrated with this in our era of cinema

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Check out Darren’s review for our weekly challenge. This time he reviewed Kubrick’s The Killing (1956)

  2. The Vern – In all parts of your mind but resides in Minnesota – I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
    The Vern says:

    Kubrick’s early works before 2001 look very different and not because of Black and white. There are no long dolly shots are zoom ins. I agree that this is dated, but being that the characters are set in the 40’s. I don’t mind. I should rewatch this again, Good work

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