The Killers (1946)
This 1946 film noir starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, and Edmond O’Brien is based upon the Ernest Hemingway short story of the same name. The first several minutes of the movie closely follows the Hemingway story of two hired killers who come to a small town to kill “the Swede” (Lancaster), but where the story ends, the movie continues. The story provided no explanation as to why anyone wants the Swede to be killed, nor does it explain who hired the killers.
The movie provides these answers and more as we follow Jim Reardon (O’Brien), an insurance investigator who is curious as to why Swede did not try to escape after being warned about the killers. Through a series of flashbacks, Swede’s story is told by a host of characters.
This movie should be on every “film noir” fan’s “A” list. It’s a great story with fine acting. The Killers received four Academy Award nominations and probably deserved more. One of the musical themes was subsequently “borrowed” by the television show Dragnet.
In addition, I would like to say a few words about Indian Prairie’s copy of the The Killers, which contains two DVDs. The second DVD contains the 1964 version of The Killers starring Lee Marvin, Clu Gulager, John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson. This version is not really a remake of the 1946 movie but rather a telling of the story in a different way. In fact, the 1964 version is not film noir at all as it was made for television. It is an excellent film and worth watching as well.
There are also loads of special features including a reading of the actual Hemingway story, a discussion of the making of the films, a discussion of film noir, and much more.