The Killers uses Ernest Hemingway's short story as a springboard for a complex film noir. Two mysterious men (William Conrad and Charles McGraw) muscle their way into a small town and kill an aging boxer (Burt Lancaster, making his screen debut), who offers no resistance and seems to be welcoming his death. An insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) is hired to locate the beneficiary to Lancaster's policy, and in the course of his investigation reopens a long-dormant robbery case. In a series of flashbacks, O'Brien makes the connection between Lancaster and the robbery and tracks down the "brains" behind the operation. He also comes in contact with Lancaster's former girlfriend (Ava Gardner), whose duplicity played a big part in Lancaster's demise -- and his indifferent reaction to it. Siodmak's hard-edged, moody direction of the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Anthony Veiller, makes The Killers one of the definitive films noirs, including what is considered to be one of the greatest opening sequences in movie history.
by Hal Erickson synopsis