Tuesday, August 17, 2010

181. The Killing

The Killing (1956)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Sterling Hayden
Vince Edwards
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.

Best Scene

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.

Final Words

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.

Monday, August 16, 2010

182. Judgment at Nuremberg

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Director: Stanley Kramer

Starring: Spencer Tracy
Burt Lancaster
Maximilian Schell
Judy Garland
Marlene Dietrich

IMDb Rating: 8
My Rating: 8.5

"What you suggest may very well happen. It is logical, in view of the times in which we live. But to be logical is not to be right, and nothing on God's earth could ever make it right."


American judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) is sent to Germany at the end of World War II to try four German judges. The judges have been accused of legalization of Nazi practices and executions. With the threat of the Cold War growing larger, both sides are becoming eager to forget the past mistakes. Judge Haywood must now decide whether the indiscretions of these men should be allowed to slip by. The film is based upon the actual events of the Nazi trials at Nuremberg.

What's so great about Judgment at Nuremberg?

Judgment at Nuremberg does an amazing job of telling a familiar story of world history with little bias, while still making it entertaining. Most impressive in this film is the unforgettable performance of Maximilian Schell, who plays Hans Rolfe, the defense for the four German judges on trial.

Anything not so great?

While the story is an extremely detailed one, it's three hour and six minute run time can feel a bit long winded at times.

Best Scene

Dr. Ernst Janning is one of the judges on trial. He refrains from speaking for a good majority of the film. Although when he finally speaks, it is both a powerful and thought provoking scene that really defines the performances of Burt Lancaster.

Does Judgment at Nuremberg belong in the 250?

I believe that it does. This film stands as one of the greatest courtroom dramas I have seen.

Final Words

While reflecting on this film, the thing that sticks in my mind the most is Maximilian Schell. He plays his role with a feeling of great intelligence. He is defending these four German judges for crimes that in our hearts we do feel are morally wrong. Although he finds a way to actually make you listen to his defense and not just write him off. It reminded me very much of Christoph Waltz's performance in Inglourious Basterds. Overall, the film is very well done and a benchmark of the courtroom genre.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Letter To My Readers... All Four of You

Hello Readers.

As I am sure you have noticed, my posting has been quite infrequent as of late. That does not mean I have given up on the film watching project. I hope that what I have seen and written about has lead some of you to seek out some of the films. It has been one of the most rewarding projects of my life. It's lead me to seek out other works from the directors and actors that I've been exposed to. So far this year I have watched two hundred and sixty-nine films. Only one hundred and fifty-three are on the 250. So you can see that I have indeed ventured outside the lines a little. I am getting back to the reviews starting tomorrow, although the format is going to change. From the feedback I've received from friends and readers, I think this new way of writing will give you just the information you need to see the film. It's much more structured and is actually a much simpler to work through. My hope is that this allows me to focus more on the films and not just filling up a page. To those of you who have kept reading, thanks a million. As far as watching the films goes, I am actually ahead of schedule. It's been nothing short of a joy and I greatly look forward to sharing my thoughts with you again very soon.


Joey Wright