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June 16, 2010


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Tom Russell

I always liked this one better than the 40s one. Does that make me a bad person?

(Though I liked the Tarkovsky one best of all.)

Ben Sachs

At the video store where a couple of us Chicago commenters help out, we've long appreciated the climactic scene where Cassavetes offs Ronald Reagan. "The Greatest Shot in Cinema," we've often said.

S. Porath

I'm going to be the iconoclast here: it's my least favorite of all the different versions available on the Criterion set. I didn't get the brute force others ascribe to it- it played like a messy riff that was not aware of the context of the riff. Siodmack's film is an absolute pleasure. Siegel...well, I've yet to really get the following.


Damn you. I've been working towards writing this up, and wanted to use a frame that included some combination of this insane cast. Which obviously doesn't mean I can't now, but I still say: Damn you, sir.

And Don Siegel is one of the all-time greats. I honestly think he was a master. Plus, those casts! THE KILLERS: John Cassavetes, Norman Fell, Clu Gulager, Angie Dickinson, Ronald Reagan. HELL IS FOR HEROES: Steve McQueen, Fess Parker, James Coburn, Bobby Darin, Bob Newhart.


Damn it: in THE KILLERS cast list, you should probably mentally add Lee Marvin, because I didn't.

Glenn Kenny

Actually, Ben, it's Mr. Lee Marvin who does the offing. And the shot—with Marvin's gun's silencer going out of focus in the foreground of the shot—would be both awesome and Sterankoesque regardless of who was on the receiving end of the gun.

I think Siegel's film has a nicely tossed-off quality; the mess is the message, in a manner of speaking. S.P., if you haven't seen "The Beguiled" or "The Lineup" yet, those are two pictures of a quality that might help explain the following. If you've seen both and still don't get it, maybe we need to talk...

Glenn Kenny

@ Bill: Don't blame me. Blame Nolte! He made me do it!


Oh, to hear you tell it, Nolte makes you do everything!

Glenn Kenny

He thinks so, too.


Well, all's I know is, THE KILLERS is one of the best movies I've watched in a long time. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Dan Coyle

Man, every so often I'm gobsmacked that Norman Fell actually had a pretty good career as a character actor before Three's Company.


Cassavetes was not only a brilliant filmmaker but he also got to punch Ronald Reagan straight in the face. A true American hero.


Ben, I think you're thinking of the shot where Cassavetes punches Reagan -- the last few frames of which Glenn's screencapped up there.

The Swede


Ben Sachs

Ah, yes. Thanks, Ignatius. *That's* the Greatest Shot in Cinema.

Peter Nellhaus

Does this mean we can look forward to a review of the Blu-ray edition of "Machine Gun McCain"?


You've got to hand it to Siegel for his inspired notion of dropping the insurance investigator (played by Edmond O'Brien in the original) and handing his narrative function over to the title characters. It definitely re-energized what is basically a procedural with a Kane-like flashback structure. I think both films have strengths and weaknesses, but I'd probably give Siegel the edge (although there's no contest between Woody Bredell's B&W brilliance for Siodmak and the high-key house style of Universal TV, which Siegel was stuck with). As for Reagan, despite the snark that generally surfaces when his role is discussed, I have to say he conveys low key menace very well, and it's still a shocker when he slaps Angie into next week.

Keith Uhlich

"Mr. Cassavetes…tear down this wall." R.R.'s best performance.


I was also *just* watching this, two days ago.

Geoff O'Brien does a bit of rationalizing in the Criterion essay ("What was up on the screen had a new tackiness that in many ways very much resembled the world outside the movie theater."), but he also singles out what seems to be everyone favorite shot in cinema:

"The scene in which, within a few seconds, we see Ronald Reagan slapping Angie Dickinson and then getting slugged in turn by John Cassavetes is one of those where the real-life iconography of the players becomes a startling part of the movie experience: a future President (then just on the brink of his emergence as the emblem of political conservatism), an actress (at the time married to songwriter Burt Bacharach) who was the very essence of early-’60s cover-girl glamour, and the radical auteur of Shadows and Faces, all caught in the same turbulent frame."


James Keepnews

"...awesome and Sterankoesque" -- oof! Goodness knows, there aren't enough cinematic moments that possess such lysergic vividness. Much less, film commentary.

Seigel = Corman / Fuller * Ray. Sorta.

A word or nine for the greatly underappreciated, thus underused, Clu Gulagher. His performance in Seigel's KILLERS is easily one of my favorite supporting performances in the history of American film. For realz. The careerist sang-froid of his character is almost breezy and makes for a superb foil for Marvin's own unique implacability. It's a shame no one, not even QT, saw fit to send CG down so swingingly abject an actorly path again -- I wonder what he might have done at that age with THE KILLER INSIDE OF ME.

Haven't seen the Tarkovsky version yet, though I think that's the only thing by him I've yet to see. Of course, having seen Chris Marker's ONE DAY IN THE LFIE OF ANDREI ARSENEVICH, I do know Tarkovsky has a role as one of the killers, and whistles "Lullaby of Birdland" off-key...


From my chats with Clu, the Godfather of the New Beverly, he says he's retired from acting. An amazing actor and filmmaker.

Victor Morton

All right ... I can take all you jealous liberal pansy-asses dissing on the greatest president of my lifetime, but

"Man, every so often I'm gobsmacked that Norman Fell actually had a pretty good career as a character actor before Three's Company."

[John Goodman voice in BIG LEBOWSKI]



Three's Company is a great slapstick show, and Norman Fell the 2nd-greatest part of it, after John Ritter. (Though the pervs are entitled to demote him to 4th greatest, once you add in Suzanne Somers.)

Ti Alan Chase

I believe the official title was "Ernest Hemingway's The Killers", even though it wasn't actually based (much) on his story.

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