I quite like The Killing
. The editing is terrific, the sequences taut and frequently riveting. The tone starts to skirt the edge of being humorous, which will become a Kubrick hallmark. A lot more going on than a standard heist flick. The wrestler/chess master lays it out: Should the visionary (gangster, artist) break from the pack and go for it, or is the smart move to play it safe and within the system? Because really, most people want the visionary to fail. Seeing the life go out of Sterling Hayden at the end is really memorable.
I'm not crazy about the narration either but figure it's a studio concession that's not far out of line with other movies of the same era. I actually like the scenes with Elisha Cook and Marie Windsor for the most part; it's like how much more rotten can they maker her, and then she's more rotten. It's definitely a sexual power/identity thing, which will also become a recurring theme in Kubrick's movies.
The decidedly odd Timothy Carey makes a good appearance too, I always find him fun to watch even if he goes a little overboard.
Jim Thompsen, a novelist who wrote (among other things) The Killer Inside Me essentially wrote the screenplay, but Kubrick only credited him with writing dialogue. This might have been over money, or over Kubrick establishing himself as an "auteur" (before Sarris used the term in the U.S., of course), but it was a dick move in either case.
I never knew that, thanks. I've really liked Thompson's books.