This is the opening scene from Robert Siodomak’s 1946 noir classic The Killers, which is an extrapolation of Ernest Hemingway’s short story by the same name. That’s part of why Hemingway starts off the hardboiled course, and this film is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, noir of all time. Ava Gardner is the most seductie femme fatale ever, and while no Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Kitty was still ferocious. And Burt Lancaster plays the greatest sap in noir history between this film and Siodomak’s other noir masterpiece Criss Cross (1948)
This animated GIF is interesting in that this scene of the headlights in the dark is a recurring visual theme in not only noir films (think the beginning of Kiss Me Deadly) but a motif David Lynch comes back to again and again, particularly in Lost Highway. I won’t be so bold as to say this is the “first” example of it in cinema, because I would ultimately be proven wrong. Nonetheless, it’s certainly an early noir visual motif of cars, killers, shadows and night which brings that sense of impending doom and blind fate to the fore.