This is one of the very few Kubrick movies that I had never seen before. It's also being one of his earliest ones, making it perhaps all the more surprising to find out how great this movie actually is and how much I turned out to love it. But then again, there is no such thing as a bad Kubrick movie, so perhaps I should had known better.
Evertything about this movie works out great in my opinion. It's not just Kubrick's directing that makes this a great and entertaining movie to watch but also really its story.
It's more being a film-noir type of movie and its absolutely fascinating to see Kubrick handling this particular genre. Like all of his movies, it's not just being a standard genre movie, that plays by all of the rules or sticks to all of its familiar tropes. It's perhaps only being a true film-noir in its setup but the overall execution of it is something far more than just that. It uses many ingredients, from multiple different genres and Kubrick manages to blend them all together into one great and entertaining little movie!
A great aspect about its story and storytelling is that its being for some part non-linear. Now, nothing special about that you would think but you have to remember this was a 1956 movie and non-linear storytelling in movies really wasn't anything that common yet. Sure, movies always had flashbacks in them, pretty much since the earliest days of cinema on already but non-linear storytelling is a whole other ballgame.
The non-linear storytelling is mostly used to show us how the big heist plays out. It's absolutely great to see how the many different characters all did their little part and how it adds up to the eventual heist. And it's always showing you something more and different, so it never feels as if the movie starts repeating itself after a short while. It's great fun and fascinating to watch, all throughout! It besides lets its simple story and setup work out as something great and real clever.
What I also really liked about its story were its characters. It's being a real heist movie but not with some typical heist characters in it. There are no Steve McQueen's or Paul Newman's in this movie. Just a bunch of middle aged guys, who look like they could be your next door neighbor. They are not being typical crooks and they are all in it for different and often personal reasons. And the movie really takes its time to show the motivations of the many different characters, which lets it all play out as something engaging and it gets you more involved with the story and its different characters. This also helps to make the movie often a more tense one.
The movie has some really great moments in it, that show what a perfectionist and visionary film-maker Stanley Kubrick was. I especially also liked the very dynamic black & white cinematography of the movie, which also helped to give the movie some real pace, even though it probably isn't about halfway through that the actual heist gets set in motion. Kubrick style is definitely showing already in this early movie done by him and it's fun to see how some moments and compositions should remind you of some of Kubrick's later works.
It's a wonderfully put together, stylish, fun and fast paced entertaining heist movie, that I absolutely loved watching!