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The Killer inside Me Movie Review

keach john sterling carradine

Ever since the Creative Arts Book Company in Berkeley began re-printing Jim Thompson's novels in its Black Lizard series, I've been trying to track down the movies that were inspired by his books, and it hasn't been easy. 1979's Serie Noire based on A Hell of a Woman, for example, was made in France by Alain Corneau, and if it's shown up on cable or at a video outlet or on the revival circuit, I must have been out of town. Burt Kennedy's The Killer inside Me was released by Warner Bros. in 1976, and even though it features an all-star cast (Stacy Keach, Susan Tyrell, Tisha Sterling, Don Stroud, Julie Adams, and the late character actors Keenan Wynn, Charles McGraw, John Dehner, Royal Dano, and John Carradine), this one is hard to see, although well worth waiting for. Berkeley alumnus Keach gives a crisp, controlled performance as the sheriff whose violent core is obscured by his nice guy facade. The film perfectly captures the Thompson atmosphere of frightening undercurrents of emotion, which are set in motion by seemingly innocuous sights, sounds, and gestures. The only irritating sequences in Killer (although perhaps they were meant to be irritating) are the colossally dull relationship spats between Keach and Sterling. Keach's moments with Stroud and Carradine are played with very dark, very weird humor. Along with Serie Noire, The Killer inside Me tops my wish list of film noir double bills I'd most like to see on the big screen.

1976 (R) 99m/C Stacy Keach, Susan Tyrrell, Tisha Sterling, Keenan Wynn, John Dehner, John Carradine, Don Stroud, Charles McGraw, Julie Adams, Royal Dano; D: Burt Kennedy; W: Robert Chandlee; C: William A. Fraker. VHS

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