Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Killing (Kubrick Edition)

Criterion's just released Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing" along with the earlier "Killer's Kiss" on a single blu-ray disc. The high-def transfer is spectacular and the movie's never looked better. The detail is amazing, and sometimes a little bizarre... at one point Sterling Hayden's character checks into a seedy hotel, and the inside of the door has chalk-marked dimensions scrawled across a panel. I can't tell if this was a mistake or meant to show how REALLY seedy the hotel was...

Always loved Sterling Hayden in this film, and he's tough as nails, but the picture has a slightly curious tone for a hardcore caper film. The gang of thieves are (mostly) surprisingly smiley and good-natured. One is joining the gang to help his sick wife. Even the one-scene loan-shark who "threatens" a guy at the beginning is soft-spoken. We're talking one polite crew of vicious robbers.

But what a cast. Elisha Cook is fantastic as the sad sack in love with hardcore floozie Marie Windsor, and it's fun to see a pre-Dr. Kildare Vince Edwards playing a real slimy bastard. Finally, Timothy Carey. Holy smokes. He's either channeling a bad impression of Burt Lancaster or recovering from a recent broken jaw, but his tooth-grinding performance is something else!

The disc includes a nice featurette on writer Jim Thompson, who was furious to discover his credit on the movie was "dialogue by" under Kubrick's "screenplay by." Despite that, he went on to work with Kubrick on several other projects, including Paths of Glory. I was impressed to learn that Thompson wrote and sold over a dozen novels in a 19 month period in the 50's, and surprised to discover that Martin Goodman, who also published Marvel Comics, created havoc for Thompson when he shut down the book line that was releasing his work. Small world...

I believe that with the exception of "Fear and Desire", this means all of Kubrick's films are now available in high def. That's a good thing!

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