Tuesday, November 16, 2010

1946 - THE KILLERS, better version of the Hemingway short story

Although the 1964 version is not without it's good points, mainly Lee Marvin and Clu Gulager as the killers,  the 1946 version has it all over that film.  This is a good 1940's film noir well directed by Robert Siodmak and produced by Mark Hellinger a guy who actually had some taste and talent. The Killers was written by Anothony Veller with uncredited help from John Huston.

Somebody had the smart idea to actually use the Hemingway short story for the opening scenes in the film.  It sets the mood for the rest of the picture.  After that opening, the film uses the same story structure as Citizen Kane as the insurance investigator tries to put together why a man would wait to be killed. 

The Killers has a fine cast, with Burt Lancaster as the victim and Ava Gardner as the femme fatale.  But probably the two standouts in the film are a couple of character actors, Edmond O'Brien as the insurance investigator and Sam Levine as the cop helping him solve the murder.  Try making a film today where two character actors are as important as the main leads.

The director Robert Siodmak worked on a lot of horror movie junk at Universal before he got better assignments, directing entertaining crap like Son of Dracula and Cobra Woman.  Siodmak really pours on the atmosphere in this film, he also has a  one take shot of a payroll robbery that's very well done. 

Don Siegel claimed he used nothing of The Hemingway short story or scenes from this film for his version of The Killers.  Not true, the basic idea of a man waiting to die is from the Hemingway story and the flashback structure in this version were borrowed for the 1964 film.  

A very well done film.

103 minutes.

No comments: