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DVD Reviews -'The Killers' and 'Mister John'

21/02/2014 17:04 GMT | Updated 22/04/2014 10:59 BST

Don Siegel's classic crime thriller 'The Killers' shines as brightly as it did in 1964 and who would have thought that Ronald Reagan, who played Jack Browning, the double-crossing ruthless mob boss would become the 40th US President.

In complete contrast, Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy's 'Mister John' is an uneasy enigmatic and elliptical journey of re-invention.

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Director: Don Siegel Cast: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes, Ronald Reagan, Clu Gulager Genre: Crime Drama Country of Origin: USA 1964 Language: English 93 mins. Rating:****

'Quirky, taut and absorbing, a film noir classic.'

Two hit men, Charlie (Lee Marvin) and Lee (Clu Gulager) walk into an automobile repair class school for the blind, terrorise the secretary to reveal the whereabouts of Johnny North (John Cassavetes) and gun him down. "I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run.Why all of a sudden he'd rather die." So muses Charlie after his high-priced victim Johnny North gives in without a fight. It's a stunning opening scene that marks out 'The Killers' as a classic that hasn't dated. It may be 50 years old but as a crime thriller it's in the top 10.

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'The Killers' is loosely based on a Ernest Hemingway short story and told in a flashback narrative reconstruction of Johnny North's life as he lies motionless in his bedroom awaiting the two gunmen. The question is was he involved in a million dollar heist?

Charlie and Lee track down Earl Sylvester (Claude Akins) who recalls that Johnny fell for the charms of femme fatale Sheila Farr (Angie Dickinson) but didn't take into account rich double-crossing gangster Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan) who was arranging a heist with Johnny as the getaway driver.

There are first rate performances throughout. Lee Marvin is made for the part and his partner Clu Gulager exudes a frightening off-the-cuff menace. Angie Dickinson plays the femme fatale to perfection and surprisingly Ronald Reagan is everything the part entails. Having never played a villain before he was initially reluctant to accept the part but the result is a smooth talking double crossing ruthless mob boss - great rehearsal for the White House!

'The Killers' was commissioned as the very first 'TV movie', but was given a cinema release because of its violence - although a cast like that really belonged on the big screen in the first place.

THE KILLERS is released on DVD by ARROW FILMS 24th February 2014

MISTER JOHN

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Director: Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy Cast:Aidan Gillen, Zoe Tay, Molly Rose Lawlor Genre: Drama Country of Origin: Ireland, Singapore, UK 2013 Language: English 92 mins. Rating:**

Middle-aged Gerry (Aiden Gillen) travels journeys to Singapore following his brother's sudden and mysterious death to arrange the funeral and help his sister-in-law Kim (Zoe Tay) sort out his brother's business affairs centred around the 'Mister John' bar. This intoxicating world is far removed from his troubled marriage in London, thoughts of which haunt him and lead towards the possibility of re-invention - the chance to start over again. Gradually Gerry is drawn to the beautiful Kim and the sexual frankness of the local culture but realises that escape from the past isn't as easy as first thought.

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'Mister John' is somewhat enigmatic and elliptical with suggested echoes of Antonioni's 'The Passenger' and Lynch's 'Lost Highway' but it meanders, the narrative is wanting and overall it's far removed from its dramatic potential- it's 92 minutes of waiting for something to happen.

MISTER JOHN is released on DVD by CURZON FILM WORLD 24th February 2014