1946—Robert Siodmak, director—starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Sam Levene and Albert Dekker
“The Citizen Kane of film noir,” The Killers opens with a faithful 20-minute screen adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s short story. The scenario for the remaining 83 minutes was manufactured out of whole cloth by the screenwriters, who created the back story leading up to the appearance of “the killers” and the narrative of what happened afterwards. Burt Lancaster made his motion picture début in this film, which gave both Lancaster and his co-star Ava Gardner their breakout roles. It’s pure film noir: he’s the essentially decent guy who goes down the wrong path; and she’s the classic femme fatale.