CFS: Kubrick’s “The Killing”

Stephanie Simmons

In an industry that provides entertainment to a wide variety of audiences, films are often tagged with one specific genre. When looking to adopt a 90-minute emotional escape, Blockbuster and Video Island remind us that these vicarious experiences can be located on a shelf, labeled with certainty. Yet on the rare occasion when one genre is not enough, we can turn to a timeless option: film noir.

This category encompasses every experience we seek in film, inviting an audience of diverse interests. There is no better example than Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing,” a film that has it all – love, action, drama and comedy. Packed with ’50s flair, this classic demonstration of Kubrick’s creativity and wit remains a movie that all generations can enjoy.

First and foremost, “The Killing” tells an important truth about relationships: whether tied to the mob or a wily spouse, these connections are always risky. In dimly lit rooms and smoke-filled bars, Kubrick details the inner-workings of a dicey ploy to make millions.

A slew of distinctive characters – played by actors Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr., Kola Kwariani and Ted de Corsia – attempt to make millions off a racetrack heist. Yet as life often points out, there is no such thing as a seamless plot.

The team faces several unexpected obstacles – most notably a “no-good, nosy little tramp” played by the brazen Marie Windsor. In a thread of moments bringing laughter and suspense, Kubrick and his cast of brilliant actors bring color to this ageless genre.

At first glance, Kubrick’s take on film noir seems quite unlike his other famous works, such as the futuristic “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “A Clockwork Orange.” Nor does it parallel the chilling qualities of “The Shining” or his wickedly amusing “Dr. Strangelove.” Although “The Killing” demands an identity of its own, it incorporates some elements that hint at the mastermind behind this piece.

Kubrick leaves his mark through certain features such as the commanding presence of a narrator, masked culprits and ferociously witty one-liners. Yet another stamp of genius is the series of flashbacks, presented in this film through the eyes of multiple characters. Although “The Killing” is one-of-a-kind, there is no denying that it is a Stanley Kubrick film.

Part of Villanova’s Cultural Film and Lecture Series “Hidden Treasures,” “The Killing” will be shown in the Connelly Cinema. Showtimes are Sat., Oct. 3 at 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Monday’s showing will feature John-Paul Spiro, an assistant professor from Villanova who will speak about the film and field questions after the screening.

Admission is $5; students attend free of charge with I.D.