The Killing – Stanley Kubrick

An exceptional thriller by an exceptional director.

Does the perfect plan exist? Does a perfect chess game exist? If you ask Johnny the answer is yes. He would also tell you that you need enough time and thought. And finally, you need people desperate enough to listen to your every word, people who are willing to go along with your plan, even if they only knew a third or fourth of it.

The Killing is a heist movie, one of the best I ever saw. It is also one of the earliest movies Kubrick made, he was only 28 when he made it, which depresses me endlessly. Unlike most movies that go from A to B to C, this one jumps around in time and place. At times you get the feeling you are in Johnny’s head, perfecting the plan more and more, finding ways to fine tune even the smallest of details. Johnny, like his buddy brawler Maurice, knows that even the slightest miscalculation can ruin your chess game, but also the heist of the century. How much are they supposed to get if they pull it off? Two million dollars. That sounds like a lot, but when you factor in the inflation its like 20 million dollars in our time, more than a 2 million for each member of the gang.

The gang itself is comprised out of many different characters. With Johnny there are also his buddy Maurice, who joins the party late, and only knows his own part to play. There are also a corrupt cop, a bartender with an sick wife at home, a sharpshooter whose life has seen better days, and a betting window teller named George. Out of the bunch, George seems the most eager and most anxious to  get the money. George, like a lot of Americans, felt like he would make it big in life. His faith in his own future financial well being was so strong that it convinced a stunning woman to marry him, which lead to a marriage full of disappointment and disrespect on both sides.

George’s wife Sherry is played by Marie Windsor, and she is brilliant as the femme fatale of his noir heist film. She exudes such control not only of George, whom she twirls around her finger. Every scene that she is in, she commands. You can not look away, she asks attention and you oblige. I was surprised to find out that she didn’t really make a great movie after this, appearing mostly in B movies, such as Swamp Women or The Day Mars Invaded.

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