The Killing (1956)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Gangster Film, Film Noir  |   Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Stanley Kubrick's third feature showed that he was no ordinary director, as he dispensed with traditional time structure to detail the planning and execution of a racetrack heist gone wrong. Combining a non-linear story with a unifying, matter-of-fact voice-over narration, Kubrick constructed an intricate yet lucid cinematic puzzle that shifted back and forth both in time and among the central characters, revealing the personal stakes for each participant by following their individual actions leading up to the fateful seventh race. Johnny the leader thinks he has it all under control, but, in true Kubrick fashion, his plan is not immune to human failure. While the fractured time frame and use of long takes and tracking shots signaled Kubrick's stylistic break from classical form, the sharp black-and-white photography, Marie Windsor's insidious femme fatale, and Sterling Hayden's doomed Johnny place The Killing in the mode of 1940s/1950s film noir. His first film made on a reasonable budget and with an established cast of pros, The Killing caught critics' attention and established Kubrick as a director to watch, especially for such future cinematic time-tricksters as Quentin Tarantino.