Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Killing (1956)


Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Killing (1956)

In this early Stanley Kubrick film-noir crime thriller - the famed director's first major film effort, and similar in tone and theme to The Asphalt Jungle (1950):

  • the dialogue in the scene set in a New York City chess club, The Academy of Chess and Checkers, between veteran criminal and ex-convict Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) (just released from prison after serving a five-year sentence for robbery) and bald, burly ex-wrestler Maurice Oboukhoff (Kola Kwariani) - a member of Johnny's team of thieves: (Maurice: "You have my sympathies, then. You have not yet learned that in this life you have to be like everyone else - the perfect mediocrity; no better, no worse. Individuality's a monster and it must be strangled in its cradle to make our friends feel confident. You know, I've often thought that the gangster and the artist are the same in the eyes of the masses. They are admired and hero-worshipped, but there is always present underlying wish to see them destroyed at the peak of their glory")
  • the fatal flaw in the heist - gang member and race-track teller/cashier George Peatty (Elisha Cook, Jr.) was in a troubled marriage with cynical, complaining, unfaithful, conniving and covetous wife Sherry (Marie Windsor); the morning of the heist during breakfast, she again nagged him about their poverty-stricken lifestyle: "I can't stand living like this, in this crummy apartment and a hamburger for dinner," although she was encouraged by the fact that they would soon be rich after the robbery; secretly, she encouraged her lover Val Cannon (Vince Edwards) to steal the money from George and his associates after the heist
  • the elaborate yet botched $2 million dollar Lansdowne racetrack (actually Bay Meadows in San Mateo, CA) robbery sequence (during the 7th race) - the hold-up of accountants in the track's back counting room, while creating chaos during the race (including the diversionary shooting of a racehorse named Red Lightning)
  • following the heist, Val barged into the pre-arrangement meeting place (an apartment) where the surviving gang members (all but Johnny who had been delayed by traffic) had met to split up the money; a deadly shoot-out occurred when Val attempted to steal the money; seriously-wounded George was the only one to survive; after staggering home, he confronted his wife Sherry ("Why did you do it?"), denounced her for conspiring with Val and planning to run away with him when she warned: "You'd better get out of here before he gets here"; before expiring, George shot her in the abdomen, and as she died, she told him: "It isn't fair. I never had anybody but you. Not a real husband. Not even a man. Just a bad joke without a punch line"; arriving late at the apartment, Johnny was forced to take the money; he stuffed it into a recently-purchased large suitcase (but couldn't lock the case), and met girlfriend Fay (Coleen Gray) at the airport - with tickets for a flight to Boston
  • the doomed circumstances of the heist when a baggage-cart driver swerved to avoid a poodle-dog on the tarmac, and sent Johnny's checked heavy suitcase of stolen money off the cart onto the runway where it broke open - there was the incredible visual shot of an airplane propeller blowing away the fallen suitcase's contents of banknotes that whirled all over the runway
Final Scene at Airport
Johnny's Suitcase with Money Opening on Airport Tarmac
Johnny with Fay
Johnny's Apprehension by Plain-Clothes Policemen
  • the final scene when authorities were alerted, and Johnny was being approached by armed and alerted plainclothes policemen to arrest him as he exited from the airport terminal to hail a cab; he was warned by Fay: ("Johnny, you've got to run!"), but he calmly and futily replied, with the film's tagline: ("Nah, what's the difference?")

Dialogue Between Johnny and Maurice in NYC Chess Club

Johnny's Trusting and Loyal Girlfriend Fay (Coleen Gray)

Heist Mastermind Johnny

Deceitful Sherry (Marie Windsor) - Wife of Race-Track Teller and Gang Member George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr.)


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z