The Killers


1h 35m 1964
The Killers

Brief Synopsis

Supposedly based on the short story by Ernest Hemingway. In this film noir, two hitmen want to find out why their latest victim (a race car driver!) "just stood there and took it" when they came to shoot him. Ronald Reagan plays a rich, double-crossing bad guy. A young Angie Dickinson (looking just like Ellen Barkin) plays the femme fatale.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ernest Hemingway's The Killers, Johnny North
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 7 Jul 1964
Production Company
Revue Productions
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway in his Men Without Women (New York, 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1

Synopsis

Charlie and Lee, two hired killers, go to an institution for the blind where they shoot Johnny North, a teacher there. Curious to know why they were paid so highly to kill a man who made no resistance and suspecting that North had been involved in a million-dollar robbery some years earlier, the killers piece together his past and begin following his former associates in hopes of finding the money. They learn that North had been an ace racing driver until he had become involved with Sheila Farr, a girl kept by a middle-aged gangster named Browning, who is now masquerading as a respectable businessman. (Disillusioned when he learned of Sheila's involvement, and injured in a crash, North worked as a mechanic until Sheila found him and persuaded him to drive the car in a robbery planned by Browning. She and North had supposedly doublecrossed Browning and absconded with the money.) Charlie and Lee find Sheila and learn that she had actually doublecrossed North by leading him direct to Browning, whom she had married, and that North was shattered by her betrayal. The killers confront Browning with Sheila. Browning kills Lee and wounds Charlie, but Charlie hunts Browning down and kills both him and Sheila before dying himself as he attempts to escape with the money.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ernest Hemingway's The Killers, Johnny North
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 7 Jul 1964
Production Company
Revue Productions
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Killers" by Ernest Hemingway in his Men Without Women (New York, 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.33 : 1

Articles

The Killers (Criterion Edition) - THE KILLERS - A Double DVD exclusive featuring the 1946 & 1964 versions


Ernest Hemingway's hardboiled short story The Killers has been filmed twice by Hollywood, and both versions are now available on a lustrous Criterion Collection double DVD. You get so many engrossing extras with this release, the movies themselves might become secondary considerations before you're through. But don't let that happen - both of these pictures will enthrall even the most discerning crime movie fan. Robert Siodmak's superb 1946 version stands as one of the finest achievements of the film noir tradition, and Don Siegel's exceptionally brutal reworking boasts a terrific performance by Lee Marvin.

Apart from using Hemingway's story as a jumping off point, the two features have very little in common. (Actually, after the first few minutes, they have very little to do with the source material.) A similar thread runs through both versions, but the narratives soon take entirely different paths.

Siodmak's sinister earlier installment features Burt Lancaster, in his debut performance, as The Swede, a doomed filling station attendant who's being pursued by a pair of vicious hired killers. The reasons for The Swede's almost sacrificial acceptance of his own death are pieced together by an obsessive insurance agent (Edmund O'Brien) who's also investigating a hat factory heist. Ava Gardner is on hand as well, as a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale. The story is told through a complex series of flashbacks that reflect the influence of 1941's similarly structured Citizen Kane, and the dialogue crackles from beginning to end.

Siegel's 1964 TV-movie version - it was finally released in theaters after being deemed too violent for the tube - also has a lot going for it, although it features crisp, bright lighting in place of Siodmak's expressionistic shadows. The hit men in Siegel's film (Clu Gulager and Marvin) ruthlessly stalk a teacher for the blind (played by John Cassavetes.) When Cassavetes' character makes no attempt to run before his violent death, the killers want to know his story. The trail leads to a glamorous woman he once loved (played by Angie Dickinson), and nasty, suit-wearing crime lord (Ronald Reagan, in his final performance before later playing the President of the United States.)

As already stated, Criterion didn't scrimp on the extras:

* Bold new digital transfers that clarify both the shadows and the light

*Director Andrei Tarkovsky's 1956 student film version of the story

* A Screen Director's Playhouse 1949 radio version starring Lancaster and Shelley Winters

* Stacy Keach reading Hemingway's short story

* Writer-director Paul Schrader's seminal 1972 essay, Notes on Film Noir, which introduced many Americans to the numerous specifics of noir

* Publicity material for both pictures, including stills, rare behind the scenes shots, press books, and newspaper ads

* A video interview with Clu Gulager, in which he specifically hails Marivn's death scene

* Excerpt from Don Siegel's autobiography, A Don Siegel Film

* A video interview with Siegel's biographer, Stuart M. Kaminsky

*Production correspondence from the 1964 version, including memos from Siegel and broadcasting standards reports

For more information about the DVD special edition of The Killers, visit The Criterion Collection web site. To order The Killers, visit TCM Shopping.

by Paul Tatara

The Killers (Criterion Edition) - The Killers - A Double Dvd Exclusive Featuring The 1946 & 1964 Versions

The Killers (Criterion Edition) - THE KILLERS - A Double DVD exclusive featuring the 1946 & 1964 versions

Ernest Hemingway's hardboiled short story The Killers has been filmed twice by Hollywood, and both versions are now available on a lustrous Criterion Collection double DVD. You get so many engrossing extras with this release, the movies themselves might become secondary considerations before you're through. But don't let that happen - both of these pictures will enthrall even the most discerning crime movie fan. Robert Siodmak's superb 1946 version stands as one of the finest achievements of the film noir tradition, and Don Siegel's exceptionally brutal reworking boasts a terrific performance by Lee Marvin. Apart from using Hemingway's story as a jumping off point, the two features have very little in common. (Actually, after the first few minutes, they have very little to do with the source material.) A similar thread runs through both versions, but the narratives soon take entirely different paths. Siodmak's sinister earlier installment features Burt Lancaster, in his debut performance, as The Swede, a doomed filling station attendant who's being pursued by a pair of vicious hired killers. The reasons for The Swede's almost sacrificial acceptance of his own death are pieced together by an obsessive insurance agent (Edmund O'Brien) who's also investigating a hat factory heist. Ava Gardner is on hand as well, as a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale. The story is told through a complex series of flashbacks that reflect the influence of 1941's similarly structured Citizen Kane, and the dialogue crackles from beginning to end. Siegel's 1964 TV-movie version - it was finally released in theaters after being deemed too violent for the tube - also has a lot going for it, although it features crisp, bright lighting in place of Siodmak's expressionistic shadows. The hit men in Siegel's film (Clu Gulager and Marvin) ruthlessly stalk a teacher for the blind (played by John Cassavetes.) When Cassavetes' character makes no attempt to run before his violent death, the killers want to know his story. The trail leads to a glamorous woman he once loved (played by Angie Dickinson), and nasty, suit-wearing crime lord (Ronald Reagan, in his final performance before later playing the President of the United States.) As already stated, Criterion didn't scrimp on the extras: * Bold new digital transfers that clarify both the shadows and the light *Director Andrei Tarkovsky's 1956 student film version of the story * A Screen Director's Playhouse 1949 radio version starring Lancaster and Shelley Winters * Stacy Keach reading Hemingway's short story * Writer-director Paul Schrader's seminal 1972 essay, Notes on Film Noir, which introduced many Americans to the numerous specifics of noir * Publicity material for both pictures, including stills, rare behind the scenes shots, press books, and newspaper ads * A video interview with Clu Gulager, in which he specifically hails Marivn's death scene * Excerpt from Don Siegel's autobiography, A Don Siegel Film * A video interview with Siegel's biographer, Stuart M. Kaminsky *Production correspondence from the 1964 version, including memos from Siegel and broadcasting standards reports For more information about the DVD special edition of The Killers, visit The Criterion Collection web site. To order The Killers, visit TCM Shopping. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

There's only one guy who's not afraid to die; that's a guy who's already dead.
- Charlie Strom
Lady, I haven't got the time.
- Charlie Strom
I approve of larceny; homicide is against my principles.
- Jack Browning

Trivia

a cook at a diner

'Reagan, Ronald' 's last acting role before entering politics.

Virginia Christine was in this version and also the 1946 version of the same movie , Killers, The (1946).

Originally a made-for-TV movie (it would have been the very first), but because of the intensity of the violence, it was released theatrically instead.

Only movie in which 'Ronald Reagan' plays a bad guy

Notes

The working title of this film is Johnny North, and the film was also known as Also Ernest Hemingway's The Killers. The Killers marked the last feature film appearance of Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), who made his debut in the 1937 Warner Bros. film Love Is on the Air (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Following two terms as governor of California (1967-1975) Reagan served two terms as President of the United States (1981-1990). Hemingway's story was previously filmed by Universal Pictures in 1946 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1964

Released in United States March 1980

Re-released in United States on Video February 28, 1995

Based on the short story "The Killers" written by Ernest Hemingway and published by Scribner's Magazine in 1927.

Originally made for television, but released theatrically because of its violence.

Ronald Reagan's last film.

Released in United States 1964

tvm (USA)

Re-released in United States on Video February 28, 1995

Released in United States March 1980 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (John Cassavetes American Filmmaker) March 4-21, 1980.)