The Killers (1946)
Synopsis: Two hit men walk into a diner asking for a man called “the Swede” (Burt Lancaster). When the killers find the Swede, he’s expecting them and doesn’t put up a fight. Since the Swede had a life insurance policy, an investigator (Edmond O’Brien), on a hunch, decides to look into the murder. As the Swede’s past is laid bare, it comes to light that he was in love with a beautiful woman (Ava Gardner) who may have lured him into pulling off a bank robbery overseen by another man (Albert Dekker).
What a lot of fun this noir was to watch for the first time. A film debut for both Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, their careers established, and the admirable plot twists kept me guessing, but I found myself admiring the direction and cinematography the most. The variety of camera angles, the silhouettes, the position behind the driving wheel, just about every scene was staged in an appealing way–it was no surprise to me to learn that director Robert Siodmak was nominated for the Oscar in 1947.
Charleston: Stop listening to those golden harps, Swede. They can land you into a lot of trouble.
The screenplay was adapted by Ernest Hemingway‘s short story “The Killers” by John Huston, Richard Brooks, and Anthony Veiller. I want to reread Hemingway’s story and explore more of John Huston’s writing contributions.
How does this film-noir rate in your estimation?
I love winter hikes after a dusting. The air is crisp, the skies are brilliant, and the snow adds a dimension not seen on regular days during the year. This is Fay Canyon, Sedona.
You have probably been surfing on Youtube and been interrupted by the commercial to sign up for a Master Class with a legend in the fields of creative passions whether that be films, art, photography, writing, design, sports, culinary–masterclass.com features the legends of their arena and offers lessons in a format that makes you feel like its the two of you in the room vis-a-vis. I get sucked into these commercials– seeing Margaret Atwood, Natalie Portman, Helen Mirren, David Lynch, screenwriters, sports figures, etcetera, Masterclass.com offers 70 sessions. Curious enough, I followed to the site and discovered they are $180 for 2, 12 minutes selections. No, I’m not going to pay for that–but I thought how clever an idea.
I’m not advocating you should spend your money this way, and I have no affiliations with the company that’s doing this, but I have been tempted to sign up to watch my personal heroes.
I watched Cate Blanchett in Where’d You Go, Bernadette, the other evening. The message is that the artistic life matters. While one loves family and friends, if you don’t attend to the creative side inside of you, you get snippy and lose your zest for living. That’s sure how I feel. Cate’s character was a famous architect who was derailed by her creativity and becomes a menace to society. Her exasperated hubby threatened to lock her up in the loony bin. She was derailed–not crazy.
I feel unbalanced when my life becomes monotonous with the boring routine of life. I don’t care to think about what’s for supper tonight. I don’t want to clean the bathroom or hang up my clothes or babysit or teach or make small talk with people. I wait, wait, wait for the time to jump into my head and create. Conversely, I am a dutiful woman who believes in order and being productive and the belief that people should behave. My teeter-totter drives me crazy.
So while I can’t say that Where’d You Go, Bernadette was a well-made film (implausible situations and dialogue), the message resonated at a profound level. It made me want to watch all those master class videos. But not enough to spend $180 for 24 minutes. But almost. As Joyce Carol Oates says in her commercial, “The number one enemy of your writing is the distractions in your day.” I suppose watching a master class episode would be a distraction, eh?