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DVD Review: Criterion Collection - Region 0 DVD - NTSC

'The Killers'


Robert Siodmak's 1946 version launching the careers of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. Student Andrei Tarkovsky tackled the story with a faithful 19-minute short in 1956. In 1964, Don Siegel-initially slated to direct the 1946 film created his version. It starred Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and John Cassavetes.


Ernest Hemingway' wrote a short story called "The Killers". It has penetrated the interest of readers and filmmakers since it was initially brought to the public.  First in film in 1946, by director Robert Siodmak with his adaptation of 'The Killers'. It was the epitome of the term 'film noir'. In 1956, then-film student Andrei Tarkovsky brought the world his version in a 19-minute short and then in 1964, Don Siegel (originally on tap to direct the 1946 version) took the reigns for yet another version. The Criterion Collection has included all three unique takes on Hemingway's text in a zenith point of  immaculate restoration in one DVD (two disc set).  I was anxious to see it and it didn't let me down.

Gary Tooze


Reviews of 1946 Version      Tarkovsky Student Shorts      Reviews 1964 Version 

Criterion Collection  Region 0 - DVD - NTSC

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Distribution Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC  Spine # 176
Runtime  Siodmak 46' Version:  1:42:36 /   Tarkovsky 56' Student Film  21:18 / Siegel 64' version 1:34:48
Video Disc # 1

1.37:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc # 2

1.37:1.00 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.0 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Bitrate: Criterion Disc 1

Bitrate: Criterion Disc 2

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) /  Disc #2 - Dolby Digital Soundtrack or alternate digital music and effects track
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Home Vision Entertainment / Criterion
Total Run Time: 196 minutes

Aspect Ratios:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.37:1 for all films

Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: Region 1
Layers: Dual

Edition Details:

Disc # 1 - Siodmak and Tarkovsky versions
• Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
• Black & White
Features for The Killers (1946 Version):
• New digital transfer
• Andrei Tarkovsky's 1956 student film version of The Killers ( 21:18 )
• Video interview with writer Stuart M. Kaminsky ( 4:3 - 17:58 )
Screen Director's Playhouse 1948 Episode # 22 radio adaptation, starring Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters ending with an interview with Robert Siodmak ( 29:36 )
• Actor Stacy Keach reads Hemingway's short story ( approx. 20:00 minutes )
86 production and 47 publicity stills
• Essay by Jonathan Lethem
• Paul Schrader's seminal 1972 essay "notes on film noir" ( static screens )
• Sidomak ( unrestored Black and White 4:3 - except 'Cobra Woman' ) Trailers including 'Son of Dracula' ( 1:32 ), 'Cobra Woman' ( 1:55 ), 'The Killers' ( 1:53 ), 'Cry of the City' ( 2:18 )and .Criss Cross' ( 2:19 )

Disc # 2 - Features for The Killers (1964 Version - Don Siegel Version):
• Reflections by star Clu Gulager ( 18:39 )
• Excerpts from Don Siegel's autobiography ( audio only 19:09 )
• Production correspondence including memos, broadcast standard reports, and casting suggestions
• Production and 23 publicity stills , 9 Behind-the-Scenes stills, 4 posters
• Essay by Geoffrey O'Brien
• Un-restored :59 second trailer
• Number of discs: 2

Sundry: DVD Release Date:  February 18th, 2003
Double Keep Case
Chapters: 21 for 1946 version / 19 for 1964 version
Comments: It's hard not to be overwhelmed by this DVD. On the first disc the image quality reminds me of the latest Hitchcock Criterions (Spellbound, Rebecca, Notorious) Pitch perfect blacks - absolute superlative contrast (especially in shadows)- sharpness where it was thought impossible for films this old. Unbelievable is about all I can say. The Tarkovsky student film had a line running through most of it, but everything else about these two discs is perfect. The extras are enough to go through for weeks. The Siodmak version is the gem here, but the Siegel version is no slouch either with beautiful visible film grain. My goodness, just look at the captures below. I am almost willing to say Criterion have raised the bar again for DVD production (check out the bitrates!). Imagine if all older films could look this good on DVD! I better stop rambling... enjoy... this is another essential disc for DVD-o-philes. (cause I don't have a 6!)  out of      

Gary W. Tooze

Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)


DVD Menus


Screen Captures

1946 Robert Siodmak Version



1956 Andrei Tarkovsky Student Film


1964 Don Siegel Version



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Distribution Criterion Collection - Region 0 - NTSC  Spine # 176




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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...