The Killers review

"If there's one thing in this world I hate, it's a double-crossing dame!" mutters one of Burt Lancaster's mobster cohorts in this quintessential noir, freely adapted from an Ernest Hemingway short story by an Oscar-nominated Robert Siodmak. Lancaster himself is Ole Andersen, aka 'The Swede', a down-on-his-luck palooka whose fatal encounter with the killers of the title (Charles McGraw and William Conrad, predating Tarantino's Jules and Vincent by 50 years) leads insurance investigator Edmond O'Brien to piece together what led him to such a pretty pass. Kane-style flashbacks paint a grimly compelling saga of crime, revenge and, yes, a double-crossing dame (Ava Gardner), steeped in moody shadows, hard-boiled dialogue and doom-laden fatalism. If you get the chance, Don Siegel's 1964 adaptation of the same material is worth a look as well.

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