Cinema Rediscovered: The Killers

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BBFC RatingCinema Rediscovered: The Killers

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GenreCrime, Drama, Film-Noir
Director(s)Robert Siodmak
Writer(s)Anthony Veiller
Running Time1HR 45MINS
SeasonCinema Rediscovered on Tour

Adapted from a Hemingway short story, The Killers is essential post-war existential cinema where our doomed hero (Burt Lancaster in his screen debut starring alongside Ava Gardner) awaits his inevitable violent death.

Swede (Lancaster), a world-weary ex-boxer, offers no resistance when hired killers come to kill him. Insurance investigator Reardon pursues the case against the orders of his boss, who considers it trivial. The narrative unfolds as a series of flashbacks recounting Swede’s downfall.

Like Billy Wilder, with whom he collaborated in 1920s Berlin, director Robert Siodmak was born into a Jewish family and like Wilder, fled Germany with the rise of Nazism.

In Siodmak’s case, he was forced to flee following a public attack by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels of his 1933 film Brennendes Geheimnis. He worked in Paris for six years before making his way to America and Hollywood. Once there he established a reputation for making economical sharp B features with a distinctive Expressionist style which would inform and influence the evolving noir mood of American cinema.

Screening in a brand new 4K restoration as part of Cinema Rediscovered: When Europe Made Hollywood.


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