Friday, July 11, 2014

The Killers

1946, US, directed by Robert Siodmak

I went on a little run of Siodmak pictures over the last couple of years but never found the time to re-watch some of his best-known films, including especially the pair he made with Burt Lancaster, who made his debut here. There are two films here, the first a little jewel of a short in which a pair of hired killers waltz into town in search of Lancaster's character. Virtually the whole sequence takes place in the confines of a diner, shot in ways that make the claustrophobic space seem far larger than it is, and the story climaxes with a shooting. The second film is a procedural, replete with carefully dovetailed flashbacks that provide us with the back story for the shooting; while the structure is familiar from latter-day TV shows like Without a Trace or Cold Case the execution here is wonderfully calibrated in its careful drip of information. Siodmak's mastery of pace and visual tone is as expected; much more surprising is the fine use of location footage, particularly for a precisely choreographed heist.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States