The Killing (1956). An ex-con, a corrupt cop, a reformed alcoholic, a wrestler, a sharpshooter and a pair of inside men: these seven men intent on executing the perfect robbery and taking a racetrack for two million dollars. But this is the world of film noir, a tough, sour place where nothing quite goes as planned…
For his third feature Stanley Kubrick adapted Lionel White’s Clean Break with a little help from hard-boiled specialist Jim Thompson (The Killer Inside Me), and in doing so created a heist movie classic, one to rank alongside John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle and Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The robbery itself is one of cinema’s great set-pieces, as taut a piece of filmmaking as you’ll ever find, expertly controlled by Kubrick, who called The Killing his “first mature work”.
Starring Sterling Hayden (Johnny Guitar, The Godfather), perennial fall guy Elisha Cook Jr (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep) and Marie Windsor (The Narrow Margin) as his duplicitous wife, The Killing is quintessential film noir, still as brutal, thrilling and audacious as it was almost six decades ago.