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U.S., 1956
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Ted de Corsia
Approx. 83 min. DCP.

As Art Gilmore narrates, giving often-needed time and place, back-from-the-pen Sterling Hayden puts together a team for a race track robbery, though letting each know only his own role: crooked cop Ted de Corsia (THE NAKED CITY), betting window teller Elisha Cook Jr. — with no-good Marie Windsor as his wife — actual chess-playing wrestler Kola Kwariani, track bartender Joe Sawyer, and wacko, scenery-devouring sniper Timothy Carey. And then 27-year-old Kubrick eschews classical intercutting and instead scrambles the chronology, rewinding to the start each time a different team member's particular role begins... with a final, bitterly ironic twist. Screenplay by Kubrick and pulp titan Jim Thompson, from Lionel White's novel Clean Break. “Kubrick’s handling of a fractured temporality is fully controlled under the supervision of a voice-of-God narrator watching over luckless characters as they collide with their awaiting destinies. The continuously moving, tracking camera entraps the doomed plotters behind looming foreground objects, groups of silhouetted figures, and room dividers… Toppling the critical truism that Kubrick was not a gifted director of actors, THE KILLING proves decisively that he was, in fact, an inspired actor’s director.” – Foster Hirsch


– Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

“Far more satisfying than most of Kubrick’s later work…What is remarkable about the movie, besides the excellent performance of an archetypal noir cast and Lucien Ballard’s steely photography, is the time structure, employing a complex series of flashbacks both to introduce and explain characters and to create a synchronous view of simultaneous events.”
– Geoff Andrew, Time Out (London)

“With its jagged time structure and doubling back over past events, like a proto — and pulp — LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD…Also predicts the important bridge that Kubrick would define between the studio genre picture and the European art film.”
– Hayden Guest

Film Forum