Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast includes: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
with introduction from staff member ben newell
84mins / 1956 / USA


Our new Americana season continues with staff member Ben Newell's choice of Stanley Kubrick’s account of an ambitious racetrack robbery - one of Hollywood’s tautest, twistiest noirs.

The Killing is effusive for its radically time-shuffling narrative, razor-sharp dialogue from pulp novelist Jim Thompson, and a phenomenal cast of character actors, including Sterling Hayden and Coleen Gray.

The Killing is both a jaunty thriller and a cold-blooded punch to the gut. And with its precise tracking shots and gratifying sense of irony, it’s Kubrick to the core.

Ben Newell explains why he chose this film for Americana season:

"I have chosen Kubrick's second feature as director as for me it was really the genesis of what this behemoth of a filmmaker would become in later years (only a year later he would make the transcendental Paths of Glory). In 1956 when The Killing was released Kubrick was 28, an obsessed chess player, a photographer for Look magazine and a director of "March of Time" newsreels. I was obsessed by the 'myth' of Kubrick. Only recently did I venture out to St Albans and find his home Childwickbury Manor which also doubled as the nerve centre for his film productions following his move to the UK in the early 60s.

When I first watched The Killing I tried to find themes and a style he would return to in his later masterpieces, but then it dawned on me here was a director (unlike Hitchcock) who was so determined to make every one of his films an individual, free-standing work. It's baffling to think this is the same director who would go on to make the exquisite period piece Barry Lyndon in 1975.

In his films, you could see on the screen the plan Kubrick had in his mind. He knew where everyone should be and what they should do. Such a perfectionist was Kubrick that he knew every theater his films were opening in, and the daily grosses. It's said that a projectionist in Kansas City received a phone call from Kubrick in England, informing him that the picture was out of focus. Is that story apocryphal? I've never thought so."

This film forms part of our new Americana series, celebrating our favourite offerings from across the pond. More info and a programme of screenings, live music and Q&As to be announced soon.

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