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Killers, The (2d-Criterion)

Director(s): Robert Siodmak / Don Siegel

Theatrical Release: 1946 / 196

Cast: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Ronald Reagan, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner

Genre(s): Thriller, crime, film noir, Criterion Collection

Countries: USA

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THE KILLERS (1946, USA, Robert Siodmak, 105m) - The Killers uses Ernest Hemingway's short story as a springboard for a complex film noir. Two mysterious men (William Conrad and Charles McGraw) muscle their way into a small town and kill an aging boxer (Burt Lancaster, making his screen debut), who offers no resistance and seems to be welcoming his death. An insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) is hired to locate the beneficiary to Lancaster's policy, and in the course of his investigation reopens a long-dormant robbery case. In a series of flashbacks, O'Brien makes the connection between Lancaster and the robbery and tracks down the "brains" behind the operation. He also comes in contact with Lancaster's former girlfriend (Ava Gardner), whose duplicity played a big part in Lancaster's demise -- and his indifferent reaction to it. Siodmak's hard-edged, moody direction of the Oscar-nominated screenplay by Anthony Veiller, makes The Killers one of the definitive films noirs, including what is considered to be one of the greatest opening sequences in movie history. -- Hal Erickson (

THE KILLERS (1964, USA, Don Siegel, 100m) Don Siegel directed this intensely pessimistic re-make of Robert Siodmak's 1946 film noir masterpiece The Killers, based upon a story by Ernest Hemingway. As the story opens two professional looking men in business suits -- Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) -- push their way into a school for the blind and terrorize a secretary until she reveals the whereabouts of Johnny North (John Cassavetes). When Charlie and Lee trace Johnny to an automobile repair class, Johnny just stands there as the two men gun him down. Afterwards, Charlie wonders why Johnny just stood there, accepting his death. He also starts to wonder about his hefty paycheck for the murder and rumors that Johnny was involved in a million-dollar heist. He decides to pay Johnny's old friend Earl Sylvester (Claude Akins) a visit at his auto shop in Florida. Earl recalls the summer day long ago when former race car driver Johnny caught the eye of the rich and beautiful Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson). Johnny has been preparing for a race, but Sheila's attentions sidetrack him. The day of the big race, Earl notices that Sheila is visited by a group of rich gangsters, headed by Browning (Ronald Reagan, in a very surprising performance). During the race, Johnny is involved in a terrible crash, effectively ending his racing career. However, it seems Browning is arranging a mail heist and hires Johnny to drive the getaway car. -- Paul Brenner (

Criterion Collection #176 Special Features:

Robert Siodmak's The Killers(1946)

+ Beautiful new digital transfer

+ Andrei Tarkovsky’s student film version of The Killers

+ Video interview with writer Stuart M. Kaminsky (Don Siegel: Director)

+ Screen Director’s Playhouse 1949 radio adaptation, starring Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters

+ Actor Stacy Keach (Mike Hammer) reads Hemingway’s short story

+ Production and publicity stills with actor biographies, rare behind-the-scenes stills gallery, original press book and ads

+ Collection of trailers for Robert Siodmak films

+ Writer/director Paul Schrader’s seminal 1972 essay “notes on film noir”

+ Notes by Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn)

+ Music and effects track

+ English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

+ Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

Don Siegel's The Killers (1964)

+ Gleaming new digital transfer

+ Reflections with Clu Gulager, star of the 1964 version

+ Excerpts from A Siegel Film pertaining to the making of the movie

+ Production correspondence including memos from Don Siegel, broadcasting standards reports and casting suggestions

+ Production and publicity stills with actor biographies, rare behind-the-scenes stills gallery, and advertisements

+ Notes by Geoffrey O’Brien (Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir)

+ English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

+ Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition