To tell you the truth it was the Lee Marvin/Don Siegel version of this Ernest Hemingway story that I was interested in, but Criterion released the two versions together, so I watched this Robert Siodmak/Burt Lancaster one first. Way to go, Criterion – expanding my ignorant horizons.
This is one of those movies I wasn’t sure about watching but then the opening was so great it could’ve turned into a round table discussion of agriculture subsidies and I probly would’ve kept with it. It starts with two out of town assholes walking into a diner and giving the proprietor a bunch of shit. They sit there in their coats and fedoras, ridiculing the menu, the policies, the customers, keep calling everybody “bright boy” and ask them condescending questions. It soon comes out that they’re not there for the steak sandwiches, they’re hired killers waiting for “the Swede” (Lancaster) who works at the gas station across the street to come in for lunch so they can ply their trade on him. (That means kill him. They are killers.)
He doesn’t show up, though, so the killers leave, and the “bright boy” customer who happens to work with Swede races to his house to warn him. But the Swede already knows, and he just lays in bed, resigned to his fate. So they show up and kill him. (read the rest of this shit…)