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Robert Siodmak's 1946 The Killers on Blu-ray in December

1 December 2014

Arrow Films’ Arrow Academy label has announced the release of Robert Siodmak’s iconic adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s signature story The Killers, coming to Blu-ray for the first time in the UK and any English-speaking territory on 8th December. This classic piece of American 40s cinema is a definitive example of film-noir, featuring an iconic femme fatale, various wronged men and ambiguously heroic characters. The Killers is also famous for marking the film debut of Burt Lancaster and an early role for Ava Gardner. By 2008 the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, quoted as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Ernest Hemingway’s spare, laconic short story about two professional killers and their encounter with a mysteriously unresisting victim was significantly expanded into this all-time film noir classic, which Hemingway said was the first adaptation of his work that he really admired.

As washed-up boxer turned hitman victim Ole ‘Swede’ Andreson, Burt Lancaster made his screen debut, and was catapulted to instant stardom, not least for the screen chemistry that he showed opposite sultry Ava Gardner, whose Kitty Collins is the very personification of the femme fatale.

German émigré Robert Siodmak was one of the filmmakers who helped create film noir, and Elwood Bredell’s high-contrast cinematography, all harsh lighting and long shadows, elevates the film far above a conventional crime drama. But even on that level it’s a first-rate demonstration of how to maintain narrative tension, with the flashback structure withholding crucial details until almost the very end.

This feature-packed disc will be released as a deluxe Blu-ray featuring a newly restored High Definition (1080p) presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by Universal alongside both original and newly commissioned artwork.

Together with the above, an isolated Music & Effects soundtrack to highlight Miklós Rózsa’s famous score (used later in TV show Dragnet) will be included along with a new featurette, Frank Krutnik on The Killers, in which Frank Krutnik, author of In a Lonely Street, introduces the film and offers a detailed commentary on four key scenes. Other featurettes include Heroic Fatalism, a video essay adapted from Philip Booth’s comparative study of multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel).

To round this complete and definitive version of the film off, three archive radio pieces inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director’s Playhouse adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters; a 1946 Jack Benny spoof; the 1958 Suspense episode Two for the Road which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw.

The Killers will be released on UK Blu-ray by Arrow Films as part of the Arrow Academy label on the 8th December 2014 at the RRP of £24.99.

Featuring a newly restored High Definition (1080p) presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements by Universal, the original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 audio, and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired the release will have the following extras:

  • Isolated Music & Effects soundtrack to highlight Miklós Rózsa’s famous score

  • Frank Krutnik on The Killers: a video piece by the author of In a Lonely Street, which introduces the film and offers a detailed commentary on four key scenes

  • Heroic Fatalism: a video essay adapted from Philip Booth’s comparative study of multiple versions of The Killers (Hemingway, Siodmak, Tarkovsky, Siegel)

  • Three archive radio pieces inspired by The Killers: the 1949 Screen Director’s Playhouse adaptation with Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters; a 1946 Jack Benny spoof; the 1958 Suspense episode Two for the Road which reunited original killers William Conrad and Charles McGraw

  • Stills and posters gallery

  • Trailers for The Killers, Brute Force, The Naked City and Rififi

  • Reversible sleeve featuring one of the original posters and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw

  • Collector’s booklet containing new writing by Sergio Angelini and archive interviews with director Robert Siodmak, producer Mark Hellinger and cinematographer Woody Bredell, illustrated with original production stills