The Killing: Kubrick Thriller Arrives on 4K Ultra HD

The Killing poster. Courtesy of MGM.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is the latest Kubrick film to make its arrival on 4K Ultra HD by way of Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

The Kino Lorber 4K UHD disc comes over a decade after the Criterion Collection Blu-ray. Where some Criterion bonus content has transferred over in the past, this is not the case for this release. This release includes new audio commentary along with the trailer.

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) has one last score before me stops pulling heists and marries Fay (Coleen Gray). He brings together a cop (Ted de Corsia), teller (Elisa Cook), sharpshooter (Timothy Carey), wrestler (Kola Kwariani), and bartender (Joe Sawyer). Meanwhile, reformed alcoholic Marvin Unger (Jay C. Flippen) allows his apartment to be used. Their plan is to steal $2 million from the local racetrack before splitting the money. That’s the gist of the film, anyway.

Kubrick covers the robbery from every conceivable angle. It appears to be the perfect heist for this crew. The thing that also impresses me the most about The Killing is how Kubrick pieces it together. Some of it does get repetitive as we hear the PA announcer repeat the same things. I know exactly what you’re thinking. What could possibly go wrong? Well, you’ll just have to see for yourself. It doesn’t matter how old this film is, I’m not about to give away the ending. But if you’re familiar with the Production Code era, you’re sitting in a good position.

If Kubrick had his way, he would have also handled cinematography duties. It speaks to the perfectionist filmmaker that he was. He hired Lucien Ballard as way of appeasing the union but that never stopped them from clashing on set.

The Killing is certainly a much better film than Killer’s Kiss, even though it’s produced on a $320,000 budget. Released to critical acclaim at the time, the film unfortunately flopped at the box office. It also shows what Stanley Kubrick is able to do with a larger budget. Where he experimented in the previous film, this film shows the extent of Kubrick’s talents at the time. Believe me when I say that there are no shortage of thrills in this film! Even when THE END pops up on the screen, it also feels premature. It’s almost as if the film ends before it’s over.

The thing about Stanley Kubrick as a filmmaker is that all of his films are so different. Where Steven Spielberg has the broken family theme frequently showing up throughout his filmography, the same cannot be said of Kubrick. The only thing that this film has in common with the genius satire that is Dr. Strangelove is that they are both in black-and-white. You might find some of the same actors showing up in other Kubrick films but that’s about it.

Stanley Kubrick is in full command of this tightly-paced, tense 84-minute crime thriller. Thankfully for Kubrick, MGM’s Dore Schary was paying attention because the groundwork was being laid for what would become Paths of Glory.

Bonus Features

  • Brand New Dolby Vision HDR Master – From 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Alan K. Rode
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
SCREENWRITERS: Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson
CAST: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, with Jay C. Flippen, Ted de Corsia, Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook, Joe Sawyer, James Edwards, Timothy Carey

United Artists released The Killing in theaters on May 19, 1956. Grade: 4.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.