The man who hires the assassins is morally worse than the assassins—that, at any rate, is the case in Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946), a dignified and mostly interesting noir mystery.

The titles sequence calls the film Ernest Hemingway’s The Killers since it is based on a story of his, but this is not Hemingway’s creation.  It is a cinematic work scripted by Anthony Veiller.  (And that’s that.)

The solid allure of Ava Gardner lasts from the minute she appears on screen to the end of the film.  Burt Lancaster is the star, but his acting is inadequate.  Far better are such performers as Sam Levene and Albert Dekker.

In 1964 Don Siegel released a grittier, very entertaining remake of The Killers starring Lee Marvin and Ronald Reagan (who is a bit beyond passable).  Considered too violent for TV, the medium it was made for, it opened in theatres instead and is worth seeing despite some obvious faults.

The Killers (1946 film)

The Killers (1946 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)