The Killing (1956) [The Yellow Kubrick Road]


Not to be confused with Sarah Lund’s jumper saga

The Killing is a welcome improvement upon the disappointingly flat, Killer’s Kiss. Some have gone as far to say that The Killing is the best film out of Stanley’s entire filmography! Whilst, I’m inclined to strongly disagree with that statement, I still enjoyed The Killing (what’s with Stanners and all this killing and killers?) for what it was. A stylish little crime thriller with a narrative which goes back and forth in time, which is reminiscent of Quentin’s Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.


A lot of noirs from the 50’s can be extremely slow and, to be frank, boring! The Killing however didn’t bore
Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards
me for a second of its tight running time. In Stanley’s later films, he tends to pad out the narrative, but here he keeps it economical and to the point. We begin at the beginning of the heist and then flip back to the group of men planning the robbery. It’s a fairly unconventional storytelling method for the 50’s, although Citizen Kane did attempt it first a decade or so earlier.

Unlike Citizen Kane though, The Killing isn’t boring. I enjoyed it’s nice array of characters, particularly George and his acid-tongued wife. A large amount of the film was dedicated to this odd couple and the dialogue between them is especially witty and entertaining. It’s a shame that some of the other guys didn’t get as much screen-time, so I cared slightly less for them. It doesn’t matter too much though, because The Killing is all about building up to the grand racetrack heist and it does a cracking job.


Once we reach the heist we see it multiple times from everyone’s different point of view. It’s very engaging and clever to see how it all pans out and you’re almost rooting for them to complete it cleanly. Some of it was also very well directed. I enjoyed the fight at the bar which was done in a realistic way and only in a few shots. I also liked the tense robbery itself where a character sports a clown mask not too dissimilar to the ones in the opening of The Dark Knight.

In a fairly, yet satisfyingly contrived way, the film obviously pushes its moral that robbing is bad! Suffice to say that the characters meet a sticky way one way or another. I did find the ending a little too sudden and rushed, but overall The Killing is a pretty fine film. I loved its use of narrative and some of the characters were quite memorable too. It’s far from Stanley Kubrick’s best film, but it’s a welcome leap forward from Killer’s Kiss. I shall look forward to Paths of Glory.

sevem out-of-ten

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2 thoughts on “The Killing (1956) [The Yellow Kubrick Road]

  1. Pingback: Ranking Stanley Kubrick’s Films [The Yellow Kubrick Road] |

  2. Pingback: The Yellow Kubrick Road |

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