The Killing


"You'd be killing a horse - that's not first degree murder, in fact it's not murder at all, in fact I don't know what it is."

From The Killing, 1956

As the twentieth century unfolds and was aptly called as the high tech era, movies tackling topics on different crimes have also evolved. Now you get to see movies and television series with scripts leading audience to think more and start predicting what might happen. You see plots getting more complicated even if it only tackles a single crime and mind you, scriptwriters nowadays have gotten more creative in such a way that the interest of the audience is being sustained all throughout the movie.

The Killing television series, just released this year is an example of this type of scripts that has a main story spanning out into different complicated plots. Its main plot was a young girl was murdered and as police investigators start to investigate, it now lead them to cascading plots, which eventually made the series an interesting one to follow.

However, there’s also a movie with the same title: The Killing is a crime movie that was released in 1956. Stanley Kubrick directed this film. The film’s plot is based on Lionel White’s book called the Clean Break. Jim Thompson, and Kubrick wore this film’s screenplay.

The film is about a criminal called Johnny Clay (role played by Sterling Hayden). Johnny wants to bid goodbye to his dangerous way of earning, and marry his girlfriend, Fay (role played by Colleen Gray). But before they settle down, he wants to pull off a big heist so that they have enough monies for the rest of their lives.

So Johnny starts looking for something that would fetch him as much as he wants. He decides to target the backroom at races where monies received are counted. He meticulously draws up a plan, identifying when and where he would require help of which type. After that he starts enlisting the people necessary to make his plan a success.

So Johnny now has a team that includes a cop willing to compromise (role played by Ted de Corsia), a bartender (role played Joe Sawyer), a teller from betting window (role played by Elisha Cook Jr.), and Nikki the sharpshooter (role played by Timothy Carey).

Experienced as he was, Johnny leaves nothing to chance. So he also includes a wrestler to pick an unnecessary fight at the bar. This was to distract others while the rest of them get away with the monies. Of course, everybody is promised a share in the loot, and everybody is expected to keep the plan a secret. But in a weak moment, George reveals the plan to his wife Sherry (role played by Marie Windsor).

On the agreed date, George Peatty, the teller lets the team get into the money-counting chamber. Nikki the sharp shooter is also successful in shooting down the leading horse to create commotion. But in the process, he is also killed by one of the police staff. All teammates, except Johnny, Nikki, and the wrestler arrive at an apartment where they had agreed to meet. It is presumed that the wrestler has been arrested, and since Nikki was dead, they were waiting only for Johnny to arrive before dividing the loot amongst them.

In the meanwhile, Sherry has revealed the plan to Val (role played by Vince Edwards), who is her boyfriend. So Val arrives at the apartment before Johnny does, to take away the monies. This leads to a shoot out. Everybody present in the apartment at that point of time is killed except George. He is also badly wounded.

Johnny was just arriving at the apartment. He saw George staggering on the street. So he realizes that something has gone terribly wrong. He immediately stashes the cash in an old suitcase and starts leaving the town along with Fay. George then goes to his home, and kills his wife, before dying.

The bag in which Johnny stashed the cash falls from their cart, and opens on the road. All the money in it flies and falls out on the tarmac road. Fay pleads with Johnny to leave it all, but Johnny is unwilling to let go. Soon two police officers arrive to arrest Johnny.

Now, The Killing movie may sound simple and seem so old but if think on it, that same plot on the movie is similar to some movies these days that tackles plots on stealing artwork or pulling a bank robbery. Only that the films nowadays are more high tech than what it was long ago.

So to sum it up, as the years go by and as technology advanced, we now get to see how creative scriptwriters starts to evolve and we learn to appreciate their scripts, which at times seems to be a repeat of plots from one movie to the next. But the writers gift of making that seemingly same plot unique makes the movie all the more different than it seems at first.

The Killing is a perfect example. In the end it’s the audience that wins because the traveling & money you put in to watch that movie not to mention the time you gave just to see it is worth the effort and the cost cause you come out of the experience satisfied with watching the film and thinking about it for the next few hours and maybe even thinking about it for the next few days and just like now, recalling it after years have passed.

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