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Trivia / The Killers

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The Short Story and The Film:

  • Approval of God: Ernest Hemingway liked the film. Prior to its release, producer Mark Hellinger sent publicity man Al Horwits to Sun Valley, ID, to give Hemingway a private screening. Hemingway had a pint of gin in one pocket of his overcoat and a pint of water in the other so that he could sip from them if the film got bad. After the screening, Hemingway held up the full bottles, grinned and said, "Didn't need 'em".
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  • Cast the Runner-Up: Edmond O'Brien was considered for the "Swede". He was instead cast as Jim Reardon.
  • Darkhorse Casting: Burt Lancaster was a former athlete making his film debut, while Ava Gardner went virtually unnoticed in a string of minor films.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: The boxing match in the third flashback was filmed in a boxing arena for an audience of 2000 spectators. Burt Lancaster trained for two months with a boxing champion and played the part of the Swede with realism, against a real boxer, until his second KO and TKO.
  • Fountain of Expies: The two killers introduced led to a slew of imitators of two-team bad guys with their own slang and dividual behaviour. In addition to the direct adaptations, there is The Lineup (also directed by Don Siegel), The Big Combo (where the hitmen are a barely disguised gay couple) and revived most fittingly in Pulp Fiction with Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega taking on the roles, with Jules hanging a Lampshade when he tells Vince to "get into character". Bruce Willis' boxer character was also inspired by the Swede.
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  • Star-Making Role: For Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.

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