Friday, September 10, 2010

A Month of Noir Day 10 - The Killers (1946)

When I decided to do a month long review of film noir, I told myself that I wouldn't review any films I'd already seen. This would be a chance to discover some new stuff, and not just rehash the old. Part of me is a bit sad because that means I can't rewatch In a Lonely Place or Night of the Hunter, but today I'm finding a bit of a loophole.

The Killers (1946) is one of my favorite all time noirs. Based on a short story by Papa Hemingway (+1), directed by Robert Siodmak (+2) and starring Burt Lancaster and Eva Gardner (+3 and 4), it tells the tale of The Swede (Lancaster), an ex-boxer who has gotten involved with mobsters.   Two hitmen find him, kill him, and from there we learn about who he was through flashbacks.

There.  That's the last I'm saying about the film itself, because today I'm reviewing the Criterion Collection edition of The Killers that made it's way into my mailbox a short time ago.

This is what all DVD should aspire to be.  Not only does the film look and sound great, but the extras are educational, and most importantly, interesting.

Stuart Kaminsky on The Killers
It's nothing more than six-time Edgar nominee and winner talking about the film, but the guy knows his stuff.  Way more interesting than looking up the info on Imdb or Wiki.

While most discs will give the bios on the stars and/director, Criterion gives information on seven actors/actresses, the director and the composer Miklos Rozsa.

Publicity stills, Production Stills, Behind-the-Scenes, Original Press Book, Original Advertising, and pictures of the Winter Garden Theater in NYC

Source and Adaptations
Hemingway's short story as read by Stacy Keach
Andrei Tarkovsky's The Killers.  Tarkovsky's first short film, which was made while still in a Russian Film school.
Screen Director's Playhouse, broadcast on June 5, 1948

Notes on Film Noir
A case study of noir, written by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and published in FILM COMMENT in 1972
 -War and Post-War Disillusionment
 -Post-War Realism
 -The German Influence
 -The Hard-Boiled tradition
 -Three Phases of Noir
 -Neglect of Noir

And for last Siodmak Trailers
 -Son of Dracula
 -Cobra Woman
 -The Killers
 -Cry of the City
 -Criss Cross

This disc is not just a classic of film noir, it is the standard for which all film noir releases should measure themselves up against.  One could easily spend an entire afternoon doing nothing but meticulously going through each and every special feature.

But that's not all.  There is another disc.

Disc two gives us the 1964 edition of the film along with the following special features.

Reflections with Clu Gulager, star of the 1964 version

Excerpts from A Siegel Film pertaining to the making of the movie

Production correspondence including memos from Don Siegel, broadcasting standards reports and casting suggestions

Production and publicity stills with actor biographies, rare behind-the-scenes stills gallery, and advertisements

Notes by Geoffrey O’Brien (Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir)

Here's hoping Criterion continues to mine the old classics and gives them an equally amazing treatment.

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