The Killing

Stanley Kubrick's high-voltage suspense thriller (made early in his career at age 27) stars Sterling Hayden as the ex-con who masterminds a 2-million-dollar holdup of a heavily guarded racetrack. His cohorts include a colorless little cashier prodded by his wife's demands for dough, a reformed drunk, a racketeering cop and the track bartender. The action is taut as it follows each man's role up to the point of the heist, and the film loses no acuity in its exploration of the domestic lives and personal motives of the criminals. Kubrick's direction of his own script is fast-paced and incisive, at times almost documentary, and Lucien Ballard's excellent photography is augmented by well-chosen stock racetrack footage.

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