Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing is a great movie but it is not a film noir. Essentially it is a classic heist gone wrong story filmed in noir style. The view expressed in Steven H.Scheuer’s Movies on TV (1993-94) though brutal is fair: “Crooks plan a daring race-track robbery. Direction by Stanley Kubrick, a newcomer at the time, is unnecessarily arty but interesting.”
For me the most interesting scene is in the Chess parlor where the caper’s mastermind played by Sterling Hayden, recruits a heavy to start a distracting bar-room brawl at the track. The heavy is played by Nicholas (‘Kola’) Kwariani, a professional wrestler and wrestling promoter, and dedicated chess player who frequented “The Flea House” in New York City, which is also where this recruitment scene was filmed. As far as I know this was his only screen appearance ever!
Kwariani has the best lines in the movie, and delivers them with a thick Eastern European accent and a perfect world-weary understanding of exactly what he is saying :
Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden)
Maurice Oboukhoff (Kola Kwariani)
Johnny: Good game, Maurice?
Maurice: Johnny, my old friend. How are you?
Good to see you. Been a long time, eh?
How long have you been out?
Johnny: Not long.
Maurice: It was difficult, no?
Maurice: Very difficult.
You have my sympathies, Johnny.
You have not yet learned that you have to be like everyone else.
The perfect mediocrity.
No better, no worse.
Individuality is a monster, and it must be strangled in its cradle to make our friends feel comfortable.
You know, I often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They’re admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present an underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory.
Download the full dialog transcript of the screenplay from Drew’s Script-O-Rama.