The Killers. 1964. USA. Directed by Don Siegel. 93 min.
Screenplay by Gene L. Coon, from the story by Ernest Hemingway. With Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Clu Gulager, Claude Akins, Ronald Reagan. Produced by Universal as the first “made for television” movie, The Killers proved too violent for NBC and went into theaters instead. Far chillier and more cynical than Robert Siodmak’s famous 1946 adaptation of the Hemingway story, Siegel’s film opens with a pair of professional assassins (Marvin and Gulager) who calmly execute a contract hit on a racecar driver (Cassavetes) but are haunted by their victim’s strange passivity. Searching for the reason behind his resignation, the pair are led to a retired gangster—a sadist played with creepy enthusiasm by Ronald Reagan in his last movie role, and his only appearance as a heavy.