The Killers (1964) BFI

September 28th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Don Siegel | Cast: Angie Dickerson, Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes, Clu Galager | US Thriller 93’

The credits of the second version of Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 short story – in which the target is only fleetingly seen – actually reads ‘Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers’.

Don Siegel’s version actually achieves the extraordinary achievement of improving on Robert Siodmak’s 1946 classic and focuses on the two hit men rather than their mark.

Originally made for TV but deemed too violent, the  film finally made a star of Lee Marvin after a decade playing ugly heavies (Siegel begins the film with Marvin beating up a blind woman to save time establishing from the outset just what he was capable of).

The film contains the screen swan song of Ronald Reagan, a move Reagan bitterly regretted since it was the only time he played a villain; but he’s really rather good (witness his final close up at the film’s conclusion).” @RichardChatten


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