Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 23rd, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1946
Director: Robert Siodmak
Writers: Anthony Veiller, John Huston, Richard Brooks
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Albert Dekker, Sam Levene, Vince Barnett, Virginia Christine, Jack Lambert, Charles D. Brown, Donald MacBride, Charles McGraw, William Conrad
BluRay released: December 8th, 2014
Approximate running time: 103 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
Synopsis: When the man they are sent to kill does not act surprised to see them. Two contract killers decide to dig deeper into his back-story in hope of finding out why he didn’t try to fight for his life.
The Killers (1946) was directed by Robert Siodmak who’s most notable films as a director include, Phantom Lady, The Suspect, The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The Spiral Staircase and The Dark Mirror. The score for The Killers (1946) was composed by Miklós Rózsa who’s other notable film scores include, Lost Weekend, Spellbound, A Double Life and Ben-Hur. Reportedly the screenplay for The Killers (1946) was written by John Huston (The Maltese Falcon) who was under contract with Warner Brothers and unable to accept credit. In 1964 Universal would remake The Killers. This remake was originally conceived as a T.V. movie of the week and when no network picked it up. The film was then given a theatrical release.
Though the Film Noir genre as long been my all-time favorite film genre. There are still dozens of films from this genre that I have yet to track and even more surprising is that there are several well-known Film Noir’s that I still need to check off my list. And one such heavy weight from this genre that had alluded me until recently was Robert Siodmak’s The Killers.
A meticulously laid out narrative that is bolstered by a series of flashbacks, a protagonist who is trapped in a situation from which they only way out is death, a Femme Fatale who plays a role in the aforementioned protagonists downfall and low-key lighting that reinforces the themes being explored in the film by maintaining pessimistic its vibe. Siodmak’s The Killers has all of these things and then some!
A few of this film’s standout moments include the opening sequence where two hit men arrive at a dinner in the middle of the night looking for a man known as the Swede. Other memorable include the scene where these two men finally track down the Swede. And of course this film’s finale is another knock out sequence.
Besides being regarded as one of the best examples of what Film Noir is? Siodmak’s The Killers is also known for being the Burt Lancaster’s (The Swimmer, Conversation Piece) film debut. And though his character the Swede is almost talked about more than he is actually seen. His remarkable performance that one would be hard pressed to find any fault in it. Another performance of note is Ava Gardner (The Night of the Iguana) in the role of Kitty Collins, this film’s Femme Fatale. Needless to say Gardner is the visual perfection of what one expects from a Femme Fatale. Ultimately Siodmak’s The Killers is an extraordinary film that deserves its reputation as one of the Film Noir genre’s defining moments.
The Killers comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Grain looks natural, black and contrast levels look excellent and details look sharp. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM Mono mix in English and an Isolated Music and Effects Track. The audio sounds great, as dialog always is clear, everything sounds balanced and robust it needs too. This releases second audio track a music and effects track is much welcomed addition. Also included with this release is removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a stills and posters gallery, trailers for The Killers: 1946 version (1 minute 47 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), Brute Force (2 minutes 15seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), The Naked City (1 minute 52 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive) and Rififi (2 minutes 45 seconds – 1.33:1 aspect ratio 1080 Progressive), three archive radio pieces inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director’s Playhouse adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters (29 minutes 57 seconds), a 1946 Jack Benny spoof (10 minutes 10 seconds) and the 1958 Suspense episode ‘Two for the Road’ (29 minutes 10 seconds) which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw and two video essays, the first one titled ‘Frank Krutnik on The Killers’ (54 minutes 20 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the second one titled ‘Heroic Fatalism’ (31 minutes 52 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen).
Content wise, the essay with Frank Krutnik focuses on the 1946 version of The Killers and four of its key sequences, while the other essay ‘Heroic Fatalism’ compares the multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel).
Rounding out the extras is an reversible cover art option and forty page booklet with cast & crew information, contemporary reviews and three essays, the first one titled ‘The Killers’ written by Sergio Angelini, the second one titled ‘The Killers: Teamwork on Film’ written by Herbert A. Lightman and the third one titled ‘Encounter with Siodmak’ written by Russell Tayler and information about the transfer. Overall another solid release from Arrow Academy.