The Man Who Wanted To Die...
Ernest Hemingway's spare, laconic short story about two professional killers and their encounter with a mysteriously unresisting victim was significantly expanded into this all-time film noir classic, which Hemingway said was the first adaptation of his work that he really admired.
As washed-up boxer turned hitman victim Ole 'Swede' Andreson, Burt Lancaster made his screen debut, and was catapulted to instant stardom, not least for the screen chemistry that he showed opposite sultry Ava Gardner, whose Kitty Collins is the very personification of the femme fatale.
German émigré Robert Siodmak was one of the filmmakers who helped create film noir, and Elwood Bredell's high-contrast cinematography, all harsh lighting and long shadows, elevates the film far above a conventional crime drama. But even on that level it's a first-rate demonstration of how to maintain narrative tension, with the flashback structure withholding crucial details until almost the very end.
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