The Killers

The Killers (1946)
Criterion Collection
Cast: Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Angie Dickinson, Ava Gardner
Extras: Interviews, Photo Galleries, Essays, Short Story

With their release of ’The Killers, ’ Criterion Collection truly went out all the way and dug up all three films that have been made from Ernest Hemingway’s story. The first is Robert Siodmak’s 1946 version starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner and Edmond O’Brien, the second one is the 1956 short-film version by then-film student Andrei Tarkovsky as well as Don Siegel’s 1964 version with Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes.

As you would expect from Criterion, the transfers of the films are meticulously clean and free of defects. The balance of the black and white picture is beautiful, creating an image that has deep blacks and good highlights that never bloom. The fall-off is perfect, rendering all shades of gray faithfully, never creating the harsh, overexposed look found on many black and white films.

The audio on the discs is also well presented, free of hiss, and crackles that could plague tracks of this age. It has been cleaned up and although evidently aged, the presentation is always pleasant.

Each of the film versions also contains a good number of supplements, such as interviews with crew members, photo galleries, essays and isolated music and effect tracks. What’s more is that there is a segment of actor Stacy Keach reading Hemingway’s original short story.

It is very clear to see that Criterion Collection’s release of ’The Killers’ is a completist effort. It contains essentially everything you could ask for regarding film incarnations of Hemingway’s short story. The quality of this release is top notch and is highly recommended!