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Second Time Around 

Wednesday, Mar 12 1997
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The Killers
Burt Lancaster made a staggeringly potent film debut as "the big Swede" who refuses to dodge fate in the 1946 expansion of Ernest Hemingway's short story "The Killers." In the heart-chilling opening sequence (straight out of Hemingway), he stays in bed and simply waits for two thugs to execute him. The screenwriters, Anthony Veiller and (an uncredited) John Huston, then work from Hemingway's terse clues to extrapolate the "back story" of why the Swede is murdered. It's a classic tale of dishonor among thieves, with Ava Gardner as the woman who loves and leaves Lancaster. Gardner is the most deceptive femme fatale imaginable: She kills him softly with her song. And under Robert Siodmak's pinpoint direction, the supporting cast (Edmond O'Brien, Sam Levene, Albert Dekker, William Conrad) uncovers every hidden threat in Hemingway's tough-guy badinage.

-- Michael Sragow

The Killers screens Thursday through Sunday, March 13-16, at 7:30 p.m. (with This Gun for Hire at 5:55 and 9:25 p.m.) at the Stanford Theater, 221 University (at Emerson), Palo Alto. Tickets are $6; call 324-3700.

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Michael Sragow

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