Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Killers (1964)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Killers (1964) (aka Ernest Hemingway's 'The Killers')

In director Don Siegel's remake of Ernest Hemingway's short story of the same title, a crime-drama thriller - and a redo of the original classic film noir The Killers (1946); see also a full review at The Killers (1946); originally made as a TV movie; it was deemed excessively violent and then released theatrically instead; this film contained Lee Marvin's career-defining iconic role that he would further explore in John Boorman's Point Blank (1967):

  • the Sage Home of the Blind opening sequence, when middle-aged, tough-guy hit-man Charlie Strom (Lee Marvin) and his side-kick Lee (Clu Galager) walked past two blind boys playing cops and robbers on the lawn ("Bang bang, you're dead!"), and barged into the front door; the cold-blooded killers were wearing matching sunglasses and tailored suits, and brutally coerced the blind secretary Miss Watson (Virginia Christine) in the Administration office to learn the whereabouts of teacher Jerry Nichols - alias Johnny North (John Cassavetes); after terrorizing her, they walked to Johnny's upstairs classroom, where they found him teaching car maintenance to a group of blind people; Johnny calmly and passively accepted his death without resistance, even though he had received a warning phone call about the two killers, but said that calling the police wasn't necessary: "It's alright. I-I know them...I know them"; he was gunned down in cold-blood by the two killers wielding guns with giant silencers
Opening Sequence at Sage Home of The Blind
  • the subsequent inquiry by Charlie for answers about the simple hit they had just committed (for a huge sum of $25,000) - why didn't the doomed North flee? Charlie was plagued by Johnny's calm demeanor, the identity of the person who hired them for the "simple hit," and the ultimate fate of a million dollars after Johnny was involved in a well-publicized million-dollar robbery of a US postal mail truck - who actually absconded with the money?: ("I've hit a few guys in my time....Now, if they had a chance, they always ran. But he just stood there and took it...Whoever laid this contract wasn't worried about the million dollars. And the only people that don't worry about a million dollars are the people that have a million dollars")
  • the revelation of North's past in a series of flashbacks through interviews with North's associates, first in Miami with former mechanic and friend Earl Sylvester (Claude Akins); Johnny had been a champion race car driver, but suffered a career-ending crash and was hospitalized; four years before his hit-man death, he had become entrapped by one particular "dame," according to Earl; there were flashbacks to the scenes of Johnny's growing, ill-fated romance with sociopathic, double-crossing, untrustworthy femme fatale Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson); when dating Johnny, she asserted her love: "You're east, west, south... and my North"
  • Charlie was obsessively determined to find out Johnny's motivations, as he told Lee over a steak dinner: "Slim chance or no, we're gonna find out...No, it's not only the money. Maybe we got that and maybe we don't. But I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run. Why all of a sudden he'd rather die?"
  • a second flashback occurred during the hit men's forced interrogation of Browning's gang associate Mickey Farmer (Norman Fell), as he was taking a steam chamber bath; they wanted his perspective on Johnny's association with Sheila, Browning, and his involvement in the robbery; they learned that after Johnny's hospitalization after his racing crash, Sheila had enticed ex-race driver Johnny to get involved as the pro-getaway driver (for a cut of $100,000) in the million-dollar robbery of a US postal mail truck; during planning, Johnny learned that Sheila was actually the mistress of sugar-daddy mob boss Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan, in his last acting role - and sole villainous role); she admitted that she was a gold digger: "All right, so I like nice things, expensive things. - Doesn't everybody? I can do without"; he accepted her job offer to take part in the heist, as "strictly business" - although they still appeared to love each other
  • in an unexpectedly violent scene, Browning vehemently slapped an insolent Sheila across the face [Note: Ronald Reagan later claimed he regretted the scene]; protective of Sheila, Johnny slugged Browning backwards, and threatened: ("If you touch her again, I'll kill ya!"); Browning held a handkerchief to his busted lip and vowed: ("After the job, we'll settle this, North"); Johnny yelled back: "Let's settle it now," but Sheila cautioned him to hold off
Just Before the Robbery
Jack Browning's (Ronald Reagan) Violent Slap of Sheila
The Slap
Johnny's Slugging of Browning
Browning's Vengeful Vow
  • after the heist, Browning became a respectable LA real estate businessman; in LA, the hitmen arranged with Browning to meet with Sheila in her downtown LA Knightsbridge Hotel; after barging in many hours earlier than expected, she asked: "You've proved that you can be rude. Now, what do you want?", Charlie replied simply: "The money"; she claimed: "I don't have the money...Can't you get it through your heads? Johnny North took it. He slugged Jack and got away clean"
  • the sequence of Sheila's brutal interrogation in her hotel room, knowing that she was lying; Lee punched Sheila in the face, and then she was held by her ankles from the 7th story hotel window, to force her to tell the truth about the past: (Charlie: "Throw her out....Maybe she can remember the truth on the way"); under duress, she admitted that the night before the robbery, she had come to Johnny in his hotel room, to tell him that he was going to be cut out of the deal after the heist; Johnny threatened to kill them: "I'm gonna get to them before they get to me," but she convinced Johnny to let Browning live ("Promise me you won't kill him"), in exchange for sharing the money together afterwards; however, the duplicitous Sheila was setting up Johnny; she was actually two-timing Johnny and had betrayed him to Browning; she had advised Johnny to take the money after the heist and drive it to her
  • after Johnny's heist of the money, Browning (who had been tipped off by Sheila) approached Johnny with a gun in their pre-arranged meeting place, a hotel room - Sheila even urged Browning to murder Johnny: "Get it over with, Jack"; although seriously wounded in the stomach, Johnny was able to escape into the dark woods
  • the scene of Charlie's statement that Sheila's betrayal of Johnny had already been enough to kill him, even though she was eager to blame Browning for the hit on his life: "You see, the only man that's not afraid to die is the man that's dead already. And you killed him four years ago. You didn't need us"
  • the last deadly tragic sequence - with a long sniper rifle, Browning ambushed Lee and lethally wounded Charlie as they departed from the front of the LA hotel; with his last ounce of strength and dripping blood from his wound, Charlie drove to Browning's suburban home; there, he found Sheila and Browning emptying a safe; to save herself, Sheila blamed Browning for the ambush and the theft of the heist money: "Please. I-I didn't want to. He made me do it. I couldn't help myself"; first, Charlie shot Browning dead, and then turned his gun on Sheila who pleaded for her life: ("Please, I didn't want to have anything to do with it. I-I had no choice"), but Charlie snarled back: "Lady, I don't have the time!" and shot her dead too (with a wide angle lens emphasizing the size of his silencer-gun
Dying Charlie with Imaginary Gun - on Browning's Front Lawn
The Ending at Browning's Suburban Home
  • with a briefcase full of money, the dying Charlie emerged onto the outdoor brick walkway and stumbled over to the driveway, where he pulled a trigger on an approaching police car using an imaginary gun in his empty hand; then he fell over dead onto the suburban front lawn, with the briefcase opening and spilling cash next to him on the grass

Johnny North Warned About Approaching Cold Blooded Killers

Killers: Charlie and Lee

Femme Fatale Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson)

Race Driver Johnny's Career-Ending Violent Crash

Johnny - Hospitalized and Visited by Sheila

Charlie's Steam Bath Interrogation of Gang Member Mickey

Johnny's Romance with Sheila

Sheila's Brutal Interrogation in Hotel Room by Lee and Charlie

Sheila's Two-Timing of Johnny

Browning with Sheila - Caught Emptying Safe

Charlie Aiming at Sheila

Sheila After Double-Crossing and Blaming Browning - She Was Shot to Death by Charlie Who Snarled: "Lady, I don't have the time"


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