The Killers (1946)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Film Noir, Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 30, 1946 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Lucia Bozzola

Adapted (and expanded) by Anthony Veiller and an uncredited John Huston from Ernest Hemingway's story, Robert Siodmak's The Killers (1946) weaves a complex film noir tale of obsessive love and multiple double-crosses. Shrouded in shadows as he awaits and accepts his fate in the opening scenes, Burt Lancaster's ex-prizefighter Swede is already a mystery. Fragmentary flashbacks within flashbacks relate Swede's story to Edmond O' Brien's intrepid insurance investigator from multiple points of view, but they never entirely get inside his head even if they illuminate his fate. Ava Gardner's satiny Kitty Collins is equally, and more dangerously, enigmatic, as her actions become as unpredictably complex as the film's byzantine narrative structure. Stylishly shot, particularly in the opening night-for-night and sustained heist sequences, the film builds suspense through the deliberate accretion of details about a foregone conclusion. Lancaster's film debut as the physically imposing but psychologically devastated Swede made him a star, while Gardner's poisonously beautiful siren turned her into a love goddess on a par with Rita Hayworth. A critical and box office success, The Killers received Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay.