The Killing (1956)
Tagline: “These 5 men had a $2,000,000 secret until one of them told this woman!”
Part of a gilded era for heist noirs that also produced Rififi, Topkapi and Bob Le Flambeur, Stanley Kubrick dispensed with traditional chronology to craft a wickedly ingenious thriller that tore up the blueprints for the perfect movie heist. It opens with the crew, led by Sterling Hayden’s Johnny Clay – like The Asphalt Jungle’s Dix Handley, a strong-arm man, but here entirely unsympathetic – circling an LA racetrack, before sharply retracing its steps to establish the desperate band of characters. And as you’d expect with pulp writer Jim “The Killer Inside Me” Thompson putting the meat onto the bones of Kubrick’s script outline, they’re a hardboiled bunch. Timothy Carey’s bigoted sniper and Kola Kwariani’s whip-smart wrestler are the diversions who clear the way for Hayden’s clown-masked gunman to clean out the track accountant. But standing between them and $2m worth of high times is Marie Windsor’s double-dealing moll…
Iconic moment: Clay watches in disbelief as his hard-stolen cash billows across the airport tarmac. Seriously dude, buy yourself a proper suitcase.
What to quote: “Aw, what’s the difference?”
Pub trivia: Kubrick hated the voice-over demanded by United Artists so much he subverted it with an unreliable narrator and a few red herrings.
Further reading… Armored Car Robbery (1950), Seven Thieves (1960), The First Great Train Robbery (1979), The Usual Suspects (1995), Bound (1996)