This is the film of a good pupil, no more. An admirer of Max Ophuls, Aldrich, and John Huston, Stanley Kubrick is still far from being the bright boy heralded by the excited publicity surrounding this little gangster film which makes even The Asphalt Jungle look like a masterpiece by comparison. Kiss Me Deadly even more so. I shall not mention Ophuls, who would have nothing to do with the matter except that Kubrick claims his influence through irritating movements of the camera resembling those beloved of the director of Le Plaisir. But what on Ophuls corresponds to a certain vision of the world, in Kubrick is mere showing-off.
The enterprise is not without its sympathetic side, however. An independent production, The Killing was shot quickly and on a low budget. Although the story is not particularly original (robbery of the Los Angeles race-track), and the ending very little better (banknotes fluttering away in the wind after a very badly filmed stroke of bad luck, exactly as in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), one must praise the ingenuity of the adaptation: by systematically dislocating the chronology of events, it maintains one’s interest in a plot which otherwise never leaves the beaten track. Once one has commended the newsreel-style camerawork and Sterling Hayden, there is little left to do but wait, not too impatiently, for Kubrick’s next feature, Paths of Glory, which has been very highly praised by the American Press.