XL Popcorn – The Killers

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 635/1007
Title: The Killers
Director: Robert Siodmak
Year: 1946
Country: USA

Okay so it clearly doesn’t do for me to be away from older films for too long. So, since my hub is away on holiday to Tallinn with his brother, I have the opportunity to rattle off a number of films over the weekend… as well as playing way too much Overwatch and try to get into Bakemonogatari.

The first film of the weekend is The Killers, where I went in with high hopes only to have them dashed. I mean, when the 1001 Movies book extols it as being one of the best examples of film noir you are going to expect something spectacular. Instead here was a film where, after watching it for an hour, I was seriously considering switching it off.

So what went wrong for me? It’s not the act that I saw a lot of it coming as that happens to me and a lot of noir films. If you see a sexy named actress in a noir film (in this case, Ava Gardner) she is going to be one of the villains of the piece who has twisted a sappy man around her finger. Probably didn’t help that the sappy man (played by Burt Lancaster in his first starring role) was just a violent dumbass. Pretty, but dumb.

It’s just that whilst I do enjoy a fractured flashback sequence, there was nowhere near enough time within the flashback to build up any sort of tension. Also, the contrived nature of some of the flashbacks (i.e. the jibbering last words of one of the gang members) really took me out of the action.

Another major issue for me was the standard of acting. Compared the base-standard of acting you see nowadays, everything in The Killers felt somewhat wooden with the exception of Edmond O’Brien in his role as the insurance investigator. Considering some of the talent on display, this was a bit shocking.

There were, however, some really good points to this film. Two scenes really ended up resonating with me: the initial scene in the diner and the heist. The former really brought the tension and probably helped to justify my initial expectations. I had hoped we would see more of those assassins all the way through the film. Then there’s the best scene of all, the heist. It never ceases to amaze me when you get complex scenes like this shot in one take.

So yes, The Killers feels like a bit of a flawed noir to be included on this list. It makes me wish they would put I Walked With A Zombie back on the list and took The Killers off.

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