Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1956. Harris-Kubrick Productions. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, dialogue by Jim Thompson, based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White. Cinematography by Lucien Ballard. Produced by James B. Harris. Music by Gerald Fried. Production Design by Ruth Sobotka. Costume Design by Beaumell, Rudy Harrington. Film Editing by Betty Steinberg.
Stanley Kubrick’s reputation was made on this crime caper, a sleek and economically plotted but stylishly directed film highlighted by its memorable characters and intelligent dialogue by Jim Thompson (The Grifters). Sterling Hayden assembles a crew to rob a racetrack of its grosses, recruiting, among others, an inside man (Elisha Cook Jr.) whose troubled marriage (to Marie Windsor, who is fantastic) is one of the heist’s surprise threats. The film is worth noting for its non-sequential plotting, pretty much the only obvious flourish that Kubrick allows himself, but it is his spartan style of storytelling that makes it such a great film; for such a young director he has an incredible amount of confidence in his ability to spin a good yarn, and rightly so.