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Killers, The (Universal 1946, Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner)



In The Killers insurance investigator (Edmund O’Brien) digs up crime, betrayal, and a glamorous woman (Ava Gardner in best femme fatale mode) behind an ex-fighter’s (and current gas-station attendant’s) death. Classic noir from Robert Siodmak, a master of the genre, scripted by Anthony Veiller with an uncredited assist from John Huston, based on a story by Ernest Hemingway (Huston and Hemingway were close friends). Burt Lancaster made a sizzling film debut in the role of Swede, the murdered boxer.

Miklos Rozsa’s main theme was later borrowed for the opening sequence of TV’s Dragnet.

Ava Gardner said of Mark Hellinger, the producer who cast her in The Killers: ‘Mark saw me as an actress, not a sexpot. He gave me a feeling of the responsibility of being a movie star, which I had never for a moment felt before.

Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Director and Best Screenplay.

production details
USA | Universal | 105 minutes | 1946

Director: Robert Siodmak
Script: Anthony Veiller, Ernest Hemingway,

Burt Lancaster as ‘Swede’ Andersen
Ava Gardner as Kitty Collins
Sam Levene as Lt. Sam Lubinsky
Donald MacBride as R.S. Kenyon
Bill Walker as Sam (uncredited)
Albert Dekker as Big Jim Colfax
Virginia Christine as Lilly Harmon Lubinsky
Jack Lambert as ‘Dum-Dum’ Clarke
Edmond O’Brien as Jim Reardon
Vince Barnett as Charleston
Charles D. Brown as Packy Robinson – Ole’s Manager
Charles McGraw as Al
William Conrad as Max
Sam Ash as (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp as Passerby Outside Theatre / Green Cat Patron (uncredited)
Dick Gordon as Green Cat Patron (uncredited)
John Miljan as Jake the Rake (uncredited)
Jeff Corey as Blinky Franklin (uncredited)
Harry Brown as Paymaster (uncredited)
Wally Rose as Bartender (uncredited)
Garry Owen as Joe Smalley (uncredited)
Wallace Scott as Charlie (uncredited)
Gino Corrado as Restaurant Chef (uncredited)
Frank McLure as Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
Charles Middleton as Farmer (uncredited)
Queenie Smith as Mary Ellen ‘Queenie’ Daugherty (uncredited)
Jack Cheatham as Police Driver (uncredited)
William Ruhl as Fran (uncredited)
Ernie Adams as Hood with Cane (uncredited)
George Anderson as Jail Ward Doctor (uncredited)
Frank Baker as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Oliver Cross as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Jack Lomas as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
John Sheehan as Fight Arena Doctor (uncredited)
Brooks Benedict as Party Guest (uncredited)
John Berkes as Mr. Plunther (uncredited)
Edward Biby as Cafe Patron (uncredited)
Robert Haines as Cafe Patron (uncredited)
George Hoagland as Cafe Patron (uncredited)
Florence Wix as Cafe Patron (uncredited)
Phil Brown as Nick Adams (uncredited)
James Conaty as Onlooker at Green Cat (uncredited)
Noel Cravat as Lou Tingle (uncredited)
Neal Dodd as Minister (uncredited)
Mike Donovan as Timekeeper (uncredited)
Nolan Leary as Green Cat Waiter (uncredited)
Michael Hale as Pete (uncredited)
Harry Hayden as George (uncredited)
Mark Hellinger as Man Drinking at Bar (uncredited)
Jimmie Horan as Factory Worker (uncredited)
Paul Kruger as Reporter (uncredited)
Ethan Laidlaw as Train Conductor (uncredited)
Howard Negley as Policeman (uncredited)
Vera Lewis as Ma Hirsch (uncredited)
Therese Lyon as Mrs. Grimes (uncredited)
Beatrice Roberts as Nurse (uncredited)
Ann Staunton as Stella (uncredited)
Milton Wallace as Waiter (uncredited)
Al Hill as Disgruntled Diner Patron (uncredited)
Perc Launders as Policeman (uncredited)
Howard Freeman as Brentwood Police Chief (uncredited)
Sam Harris as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Jack Tornek as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Mike Lally as Party Guest (uncredited)