Stanley Kubrick's 1956 dark thriller The Killing wasn't his first film, but it was his first real hit, a breathlessly enjoyable genre piece that more than hinted at the fiercely dark humor and impeccable craftsmanship that would become his calling cards. Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) masterminds a racetrack robbery that depends on intricate timing from a variety of dubious characters, including edgy marksman Nikki (the ever-oily Timothy Carey) and henpecked track employee George (Elisha Cook). Stark narration leads us through Johnny's scheme minute by minute, keeping us on the edge of our seats as his carefully laid plans begin to crumble. Quentin Tarantino ripped off a number of scenes here for Reservoir Dogs, a film that has aged more in about 10 years than The Killing has in almost 50. Beautiful photography, taut action, exquisitely measured suspense, amazing performances from some of Hollywood's most distinctive character actors, hard-boiled dialogue from pulp novelist Jim Thompson, and one of the best closing lines in film history--what's not to love? Lesser known than, say, 2001: A Space Odyssey or Dr. Strangelove, but no less of a film.