Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More Amoral Royalty

Speaking of Jim Thompson, have you seen The Killing?  I know most of you lawless, artsy-fartsy sonsofbitches probably have, but for those who have stumbled here by accident, maybe looking for some uppity shit from the Christian Coalition, sit around and hear my tale of two masters colliding for one great, unsung gem in the noir genre.  Stanley Kubrick's admiration for Jim Thompson is on record.  In fact, all of Kubrick's films tend to carry the same theme as Thompson's novels-- The stories Kubrick tells are generally about men and the systems they create in order to benefit themselves and how those systems collapse.  Strangelove is an obvious example.  So is Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and The Shining.  Most of Jim Thompson's characters were dark dreamers who conjured up plots to somehow hoist themselves out of misery.  Those plots almost never worked out.  In Thompson's case, morality was not the cause of their collapse, as other writers in the genre are / were apt to do.  In Thompson's world you are simply fucked.  It doesn't matter what plans you make, it's not going to work out.  At the heart of it is a nihilist passion for realism that makes Thomspon's work stand out to this day.  Kubrick hired him to adapt the book Clean Break into a motion picture screenplay.  Thompson's credit now reads something like, "Additional dialogue by Jim Thompson."  According to most accounts I've read, Kubrick screwed Thompson out of a proper credit.  Despite this, the two joined forces once more to write the script for Paths of Glory, considered to be one of the best anti-war films ever made.  But nevermind all that.  We're talking The Killing here.  Consumate tough bastard Sterling Hayden plays the lead, a no-nonsense thief who puts together the perfect heist at a race track.  By the end of the film nobody involved gets away.  There's a great femme fatale who gives her loser husband a hell of a time.  The narrative structure of the film is also quite radical for a production of its time.  Among others, Quentin Tarrantino owes a lot to the chronological jigsaw Kubrick created in The Killing.  The film is about 80 minutes long and moves at a nice pace.  If you're looking for a kickass movie to watch with a bottle of whiskey and a willing woman (read: willing to watch movies dudes dig,) check this one out.

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