"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on June 5, 1949 with Burt Lancaster reprising his film role.
"Screen Directors' Playhouse" did a radio adaptation of the story in 1949 with Burt Lancaster reprising his role as Swede. It was introduced by director Robert Siodmak and featured Shelley Winters as Kitty.
"The Hedda Hopper Show - This Is Hollywood" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 19, 1947 with Edmond O'Brien and Burt Lancaster reprising their film roles.
After leaving Warner Brothers for Universal with The Killers, producer Mark Hellinger initially wanted to borrow Warner director Don Siegel, but the loanout fee proved prohibitively high for a director of his limited reputation at that time, so Hellinger used Universal's Robert Siodmak. Ironically, almost 20 years later Siegel did go on to direct the remake, The Killers.
Although Burt Lancaster's character name is pronounced "Anderson," it is properly spelled (as in Hemingway's original story) as "Andreson".
Author of the original short story Ernest Hemingway liked the film. Prior to its release, producer Mark Hellinger sent publicity man Al Horwits to Sun Valley, Idaho, to give Hemingway a private screening. Hemingway had a pint of gin in one pocket of his overcoat and a pint of water in the other so that he could sip from them if the film got bad. After the screening, Hemingway held up the full bottles, grinned and said "Didn't need 'em".
Former Warner Bros. producer Mark Hellinger, who had started his own independent production unit at Universal-International, wanted Wayne Morris to star in this, his first picture. Warners wouldn't loan him out, so Hellinger cast the unknown Burt Lancaster in his first movie. It made Lancaster a star.
In-joke: In the scene towards the end of the film where Edmond O'Brien arranges to meet Ava Gardner outside a nightclub, O'Brien stands on the street in front of the club, waiting for Gardner to drive up. On the wall behind him is a poster, beginning with "Sir Arthur Hilton presents..." Arthur Hilton, an Englishman, was the film's editor.
Producer Mark Hellinger purchased the rights to Ernest Hemingway's short story for $36,700, although publicity releases announced the figure at $50,000. (Source: "The Mark Hellinger Story" by Jim Bishop)
The boxing match in the third flashback was filmed in a boxing arena for an audience of 2000 spectators. Burt Lancaster trained for two months with a boxing champion and played the part of the Swede with realism, against a real boxer, until his 2nd KD and TKO.
The film opened in New York at the Winter Garden Theatre on August 28, 1946. The first day, $10,341 was taken in at the box office, beating a previous house record by $3000.
The musical theme by Miklós Rózsa, heard whenever the killers appear, was later used in expanded form as the theme music for the TV series Dragnet and its revival Dragnet 1967.
This was Burt Lancaster's first important movie role. He was the third choice for the part of The Swede, and was signed only after actors Wayne Morris and Sonny Tufts proved unavailable. Lancaster was an ex-circus acrobat from Union City, New Jersey. When producer Mark Hellinger saw the first rushes of Lancaster's performance in a private screening room, he was so pleased that he yelled "So help me, may all my actors be acrobats!"