12th Dec2014

‘The Killers’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Academy)

by Paul Metcalf


There is something instantly recognisable about Noir, and its style is so easy to love.  Whether it’s the femme fatale or the seemingly innocent man with the dark past, or the detective seeking out the truth in the face of the puzzle yet to be solved, a story awaits that will inevitably be told in flashbacks.  There was a time when these type of stories were created so perfectly, and this was when Noir was formed into what it would become.  A very good example of this is 1946’s The Killers, starring Burt Lancaster.

Starting off with two strangers walking to into a diner looking for a seemingly normal car mechanic, this is a scene that film fans feel is all too familiar, they feel like they have been done so many times but yet it is enticing in its simplicity.  Ole ‘Swede’ Anderson (Burt Lancaster) is killed at the start of the film, but to find out why we join insurance investigator Jim Reardon (Edmond O’Brien) on his investigation into a robbery at a hat factory with all investigative roads leading to Kitty Collins (Ava Gardner) our femme fatale.

It is fitting that Arrow Video release movies like The Killers under its Arrow Academy label because these movies are part of an education that fans of movie history should have.  This was Burt Lancaster’s first movie and the one that got him noticed, leading him on the path to movies such as Brute Force which showed what a star he was destined to become.   ‘The Swede’ may be a textbook victim stupidly falling for the femme fatale of the piece, but Lancaster puts such a memorable performance into the character that you can’t help but like him, even though there is little to redeem him in the first place because in truth he was a crook, and one that could not escape his past.

Lancaster’s character really is a plot tool to open up the investigation, the real story centres around Reardon and his investigation.  A seemingly dead-end lead into a forgotten robbery, it is even pointed out at the end that finding out the truth really led to nothing but saving a little money on customer insurance bills, and as an investigator Reardon will just be moving onto the next job, but for the audience they’ll not forget the story of Ole ‘Swede’ Anderson or how he was deceived by Kitty Collins.

What makes The Killers such a good detective tale is the way it was shot and directed, as well as the work of the actors.  As the tale progresses the main players of the puzzle are pointed out to the audience, we know who to look out for.  In important scenes there are use of mirrors to extend our view of what is going on around the characters so we can see these players being placed into the scene, until the inevitable moment that they have their part to play.  In some of the scenes leading up to the finale you can’t help but be impressed at how this was done and how the audience are able to see all of the parts of the puzzle coming together.  All leading to the finale where the whole story is finally revealed.

With documentaries providing some background to the movie and a look at the Noir style, Arrow Academy have provided plenty of supplementary material to further extend the audience’s trip into the world of Noir and a look at Burt Lancaster’s movies.  Adapted from a short story by Ernest Hemingway, The Killers is a story that we feel we may have seen many times before but in this original form is told in the best way possible, and Arrow have shown the film the respect and love it so fittingly deserves.

***** 5/5

The Killers is available on Blu-ray in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek



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