Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

Nick: Why do they wanna kill ya?
Swede: I did something wrong - once.

Pete Lunn – also known as the Swede – is leading a quiet life in a New Jersey village called Brentwood. He works at a gas station and somebody arrives… The past emerges with full force to shade his present life (the comparison with Out of the Past becomes evident).

At the beginning of the film two hard-boiled gunmen arrive at Brentwood, they want to kill the Swede. We see him in his room in the shade, he is expecting them and there is nothing he tries to do to avoid being killed. His colleague Nick tries to help him in vain:

Nick: Isn't there something I could do?
Swede: There ain't anything to do.
Nick: Couldn't you get out of town?
Swede: No. I'm through with all that runnin' around.

So the start of the film is magnificent – with sharp dialogues (they successfully reproduce a short story by Ernst Hemingway) and also great light angles.

The investigations of insurance agent Jim Reardon (Edmond O’Brien) take us to different flashbacks. The atmosphere is always one of a vague uncertainty and the femme fatale Kitty Collins becomes the central figure of a series of double-crossings. The Swede – a former boxer - feels a strong attraction for her after she sees her sing: The more I know of love (written by Miklos Rosza).

The Swede becomes involved in criminal activities together with Colfax, Big Jim and Kitty. It is the femme fatale who double-crosses everybody: I'm poison, Swede, to myself and everybody around me!

There were many important names who came together at this film. We can mention the – at the time – unknown Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner; but also producer Mark Hellinger, musician Miklos Rozsa or director Robert Siodmak were very important names in the noir style


Anonymous said...

Every time I see this movie I want to shout out: “Swede, fight for your life, beat them up, run away!”. But the Swede don’t listen to me and keep lying on the bed waiting for the two killers. It’s hard to accept such a resignation. Specially because the Swede is performed by Burt Lancaster. Lately I’ve seen in a row “Apache” (1954), “Vera Cruz” (1954), “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957), “Run Silent Run Deep” (1958), “The Unforgiven” (1960) and “The Professionals” (1966). These six films show the Burt Lancaster we are used to: full of energy, resolute, untiring and with an iron will. Not a man to surrender, but a man who fights till the end. For this reason, I don’t feel very confortable watching this film.
Jimmy Lake

Joan said...

You are right, we are used to see him escape from the most difficult situations...
He was unknown then... it's funny how actors or actresses build an image of their own during their careers and this fact affects our view in the movies...

viagra online said...

Wait a minute? The killers are a rock band... actually they are the best in MTV. I will find something else about this band and then you can add some information about it.