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An ex-con, a corrupt cop, a reformed alcoholic, a wrestler, a sharpshooter and a pair of inside men set out to execute the perfect robbery, planning to take the race track for two million dollars.

 Killing, The (1956)
Due to my admiration of his ground breaking much influential more modern films I sometimes forget Kubrick crossed over into modern film making after making more classic styled films but in The Killing, Stanley Kubrick’s third film, released in 1956, it’s  not long before you see Kubrick was already firing on all cylinders pretty much from the get go, especially with his camera choices. Panning shots following character through rooms, elements creeping into shots to create a deeper looking image and of course most of his framing here already shows a master evolving film right before our eyes.

Even within what is clearly another era of film compared to Kubrick’s more celebrated works, you can see the filmmaker trying to break into something new as often as possible and it’s not all with his visuals.  There’s a close attention to back and forth dialogue, creating a much richer mood for the style of film, a lot of fluctuating intentions boiling under the surface of the players and a real sense this film is bridging a gap between film styles as classic slipped into modern. Whether you enjoy the film as a whole or not (and there's no reason not to, it's solid), anyone just wanting to see Kurbrick at a point of experimentation that would of course influence many later on, makes this must see.

 Killing, The (1956)

Video


The image retains its grain with no digital scrubbing going on and this provides a clean, sharp albeit slightly textured black and white presentation. Black levels are solid and the different levels of grey are all bright and fresh looking. Detail generally holds up well, with great skin textures and set dressing popping off of the screen at times and even the darker shadowed elements of the frame still hold slivers of detail otherwise lost within DVD releases of the film. I guess the other thing to cover for an older black and white film is any dirt or damage. Well rest easy Kubrick fans there were none at all. The Killing has never looked better.

 Killing, The (1956)

Audio


The intense score feels much stronger than mono would imply. The bass is obviously not there but the strings and accompanying instruments all sound crisp and unique in the overall presentation and it's all nice and clear.
Dialogue is well presented throughout as are the sound effects, with the smallest of muffled elements in some of the race track's louder moments but none of that ever seems a problem and merely down to the film’s age. The music in the odd scene sit perfectly behind the dialogue to sell a record being played  or a radio on in a room and adds a bit of life to situations rounding up this Mono track into something pretty great.

 Killing, The (1956)

Extras


Killers Kiss (67:23 HD) is a whole other film by Stanley Kubrick featuring another solid presentation. This makes for a great bonus.

'The Evolution of a Master' (25:42 HD) is an interview with critic Michel Ciment and he covers Kubrick's history in photography and his evolution via his work in film.

'An Interview With Sterling Hayden' (15:51 HD) is an interview from French TV in 1970 and is sort of a fascinating watch given it's the actor on a boat with a huge beard, being super cool about the oddly placed interview and talking extremely honestly about his career and life while fixing things on his boat.

'An Appreciation by Bill Wheatly' (11:53 HD) has the Killlist director talking about his love of Kubrick and then onto The Killing specifically.

Last up in the trailers and a gorgeous booklet included, which I got to see with this review copy and it’s packed with plenty more about the film and the transfer itself.

 Killing, The (1956)

Overall


The Killing is an easy watch and can either be enjoyed for its story and characters or simply on a technical level as you see Stanley Kubrick evolve as a film maker. The disc has a solid black and white presentation and an equally solid mono track. Combine that with the whole extra Kubrick movie included and a nice batch of interesting extras and The Killing ends up being another great Arrow release.

 Killing, The (1956)

And as a bonus here are some Killer's Kiss captures for you too.

 Killing, The (1956)
 Killing, The (1956)
 Killing, The (1956)
 Killing, The (1956)
 Killing, The (1956)
 Killing, The (1956)
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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