What I watched: The Killers (1946)
How I watched it: library-rented DVD
Synopsis: A couple of hit men turn up in a small town to kill a man known as “the Swede.” When the Swede leaves his life insurance money to a random old woman who hardly remembers him, an insurance investigator decides to find out more about the mysterious man and the people out to get him.
Why I watched: This was a film I hadn’t even heard of but found on the list of 1001-movies-to-see-before-you-die list. I found a copy at the library that had both the 1946 version and the 1964 version in the same disc set, so I thought I might check both out, but as only the ’46 version is on the aforementioned list it remains the priority.
Notes: When I started to watch the film I realized I had seen the opening minute of this movie more than once in film school in reference to the stylistic qualities of film noir. Indeed, if you’re looking for an example of film noir in terms of style and tropes, you’ll hardly find a film more exemplary, it’s almost like this film is going by the book (were there a how-to guide to making a film noir in the 1940s, which we all know there wasn’t). In a lot of ways, watching this film therefore reminded me of film school, which isn’t at all a bad thing.
The dialogue exchange in the opening diner scene I find quite chilling, quite a bit more chilling than the rest of the film, mostly due to the cool performance by William Conrad. Burt Lancaster is dreamy and Ava Gardner a classic untrustworthy femme fatale and the film is full of lines like “If there’s one thing in this world I hate, it’s a double-crossing dame,” and stereotypical locales: bars, abandoned barns, wrestling arenas.
The film ends on a humourous note which I liked, wherein the insurance investigator, (Reardon)’s boss points out the folly of his entire investigation, completely deflating Reardon’s victory and drawing attention to the MacGuffin compelling the investigation in the first place.
Recommend: No. I liked the movie in general but I wouldn’t watch it again.