KUBRICK'S THE SHINING -- THE USE OF COLVILLE'S "WOMAN WITH TERRIER" AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO KUBRICK'S THE KILLING AND A KUBRICK LOOK PHOTO

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).


In the Torrance Boulder apartment, during the Interview section, we see Colville's "Woman with Terrier", above and behind the television. The painting depicts a woman holding a dog before a fence at an airport.

The Killing ends with a very similar scene as that in the Colville painting, and is one that isn't in the book upon which the movie is based. In the film, after a successful heist at a horse race track that then goes tragically awry, Johnny, the one surviving thief, heads to the airport with his girlfriend to make their escape. Johnny wants to carry onboard an oversize suitcase that holds the loot from the robbery, but finds he has no option but to check it. Agitated, he and his girlfriend proceed to the gate to board their flight. A woman is at the airport gate with a small dog she treats like a child. This dog leaps from her arms and runs onto the tarmac to chase the service vehicle carrying Johnny's bag. The service vehicle swerves to miss the dog, the bag tumbles down, springs open, and money spills out from it all over the tarmac, the propellers of the plane blowing the loot away. That's it for Johnny. He doesn't even try to get away, and it might seem to have to do with the loss of money but I think the paralysis that comes over him has more to do with a sudden overwhelming guilt he feels over the deaths of his accomplices, which is neither here nor there for the purpose of this post. In the book, Johnny never makes it to the plane's gate, he doesn't get a chance to check his bag. He is instead killed at the airport by one of his accomplices who had been shot by a thug, is near death, and mistakenly believes Johnny is running off with his wife. There is no dog scene in the book. No bag falling off the service vehicle, no money spilling out all over the tarmac. No Johnny giving up and not trying to flee.

The actress who holds the dog in The Killing is a woman named Cecil Elliott.

If we go back to Kubrick's assignments for LOOK magazine, in 1948 he took a photo of a woman with a small dog at a celebrity art auction for the Urban League in NY. The Killing was released in 1956 and, to my eye, Cecil Elliott, the woman with the poodle in The Killing, bears an uncanny resemblance to the 1948 image of the woman with the dog. I could be wrong, but I believe that is Cecil Elliott in the 1948 photo. I would love to be able to confirm if it is the same woman or not. Even if that is not Cecil holding the small dog in the 1948 photo, the similarity with the woman holding the poodle in The Killing is striking. They've the same hairstyle, their clothing has very much the same look, and they hold their dog in a like manner.

We can see a relationship between the screengrab of Cecil Elliott at the airport in The Killing with the Alex Colville painting "Woman with Terrier".

We may also see in Colville's pose of the woman holding the terrier a resemblance to the scene in which Wendy protectively holds a mute Danny who has just escaped being strangled by--what? Based on known past history, she accuses Jack, asking him how he could have done this to Danny. Jack goes to the bar and his guilt for earlier abuses comes pouring out instead as hatred for being reminded of the time he broke Danny's arm, he excusing that earlier abuse of Danny as accidental.

I further explore Kubrick's use of the dog in my analysis on The Killing in the final section. As regards The Shining, the dog may be fundamentally related to guilt over the abuse of Danny, functioning much as the illusions in Shakespeare's The Tempest that torment individuals over past wrongs they've committed. Kubrick's first feature, Fear and Desire, referred to The Tempest, and, as explained in my analysis on The Killing, it seems he makes a connection to The Tempest in that film with the dog's name being Sebastian, which is also the name of a character in The Tempest who speaks of stolen baggage.

A fun aside, which I relate because of Kubrick's affinity for doubles, a year before The Killing Cecil had a bit part on "The Trigger Twins" episode of the Annie Oakley television show. The plot concerned a woman who has opened a dance studio who turns out to look exactly like a woman who tries to rob a stagecoach and escapes. Tagg Oakley, Annie's little brother, and a witness to the stagecoach incident, follows the dance teacher around trying to figure out the mystery. It's revealed to the audience that the gun shy dance teacher has a gun twirling twin and they are plotting a robbery. At a dance, a rich cattleman and the dance teacher make plans to slip away and over to his office so he can show her his "figures" proving his cattle wealth (this is with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge overtone, the arranging of a romantic encounter), and the dance teacher briefly steps outside to plot with her twin for her to take her place and rob the cattleman. In the meanwhile, Cecil approaches Tagg and proposes she teach the young boy how to dance. Accidentally ripping his pants, he leaves, and sees the dance teacher with the cattleman crossing over to his office. How can this be when she's also at the dance? He glances inside the dance teacher's door and sees her there, then looks across the street and sees her with the cattleman. He follows and when the twin robs the man, with her brother, they see Tagg watching and tie him up. Back at the dance studio, Annie sees how the dance teacher clumsily and gingerly handles a gun she is putting up for a man, which doesn't fit with her having been observed earlier shooting a gun like a pro though she said she was just learning. Annie socks her, giving her a black eye, then goes out and catches the gun-twirling twin as she makes her get-away following the robbery. The black-eye Annie gave the dance teacher was in order to be able to tell the two apart when they were in custody.

Cecil mainly had bit parts, often uncredited until the 1950s. In the case of the Annie Oakley show, like The Killing, however small her role may be, her presence pivots the plot toward a revelatory climax that undoes a crime. In The Killing, her dog, as if sensing something is wrong, chases the service vehicle and causes Johnny's suitcase to fall off it, the loot spilling out. In the Annie Oakley show, if she hadn't pressed Tagg to dance, he wouldn't have ripped his pants and stepped outside and witnessed his dance teacher being impossibly in two places at once.


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