The Killing (1956)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Sterling Hayden
Jay C. Flippen
IMDb Rating: 8
My Rating: 8.5
"You'd be killing a horse. That's not first degree murder. In fact, it's not murder at all, it fact I don't know what it is."
Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) has just been released from prison and he already is putting together his next big heist. The plan is a complex race track robbery with a combined payday of two million dollars. Johnny assembles what he thinks is a good team, but things get complicated when the wife of their inside racetrack teller becomes involved in the scheme.
What's so great about The Killing?
There is much to love about Stanley Kubrick's breakthrough film The Killing. The story is written so tight and fast paced you barely have the chance to take a breath. There are moments where you forget you are watching a movie and you feel like you yourself are part of the heist. No single performance stands out, as this is an excellent example of an ensemble piece.
Anything not so great?
You hear many complaints about films being entirely too long. Well The Killing has the opposite problem. With a run time under an hour and a half, the film could have taken a little more time to set up some parts of the heist. Although, the fast paced nature of the film is part of it's appeal. Some of the moments just feel that they shouldn't be rushed, but these moments are so few and far between you most likely will barely notice them.
Many films best scenes are their finales, but The Killings ending provides a twist that will leave you screaming at your television in frustration and complete joy!
Does The Killing belong in the 250?
It is certainly one of the better heist films I have seen. It ranks up there along side Heat and Dog Day Afternoon. For this film's influence on the heist genre, I would say that it's inclusion in this list is well deserved.
A fun fact about The Killing is that Christopher Nolan's clown masks used in The Dark Knight were inspired from this films similar masks. I had never seen this film before, but it has found a home in my DVD library for sure. If you enjoyed films like the earlier mentioned Heat and any of the Steven Soderbergh Oceans films, you would greatly enjoy this often overlooked film.