Today! Because you’d be killing a horse, that’s not first degree murder. In fact it’s not murder at all, in fact I don’t know what it is –
The Killing (1956)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x2)
Starring Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr. (x2), Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Marie Windsor, Joe Sawyer, Timothy Carey, Jay C. Flippen, Ted de Corsia, Kola Kwariani, James Edwards
The first great Stanley Kubrick movie, The Killing came directly on the heels of the slight, interestingly photographed Killer’s Kiss (1955) and Fear and Desire (1953), but represented such a massive uptick in quality as to render these early films obsolete in the canon. For the longest time, this was also the earliest Kubrick film you could find – the other two having fallen out circulation to an extreme degree, so The Killing is sometimes even now still referred to (or maybe just thought of) as his first film.
Such an avant garde filmmaker was Kubrick that it’s interesting to watch his good 1950’s films – this and Paths of Glory – to see how he operates in the technical limitations of the time. Lolita and Strangelove still have some of this going on, too, but it’s more pronounced here, pre-Spartacus, when Kubrick didn’t yet have free reign to make movies however he liked. The Killing is a touch hindered by the overbearing narration that, while probably keeping the run time down, doesn’t feel 100% necessary (Kubrick was apparently forced to include it by the studio). Some of the acting in the early going is a little jangly, too – Hayden and Cook do most of the heavy lifting throughout, but especially in the run up to the heist.