Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Killers

The Killers, based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, opens fantastically with a diner/hostage scenario followed by the murder of the main character. It is followed by a contrived insurance investigation coupled with an effective flashback plot narrative in which we learn what led to the opening events. The film is often mentioned as an epitome of film noir, and that it is, as it contains all the elements that make up the genre such as the dark shadows, troubled hero, femme fatale, etc. It also represents the breakthrough performance of Ava Gardner and the debut of Burt Lancaster, reportedly the studio’s last choice, but an unavoidable one. By that I mean it seems that Lancaster was destined for the movies with his screen presence, physical stature, and dramatic demeanor. It is also worth mentioning that John Huston anonymously contributed to the screen play, and was probably responsible for its hard boiled elements. The Killers represents a classic, though flawed, entry into the original American film genre.