After fifteen years' service, Henri Boulanger is made redundant from his job. Shocked, he attempts suicide, but can't go through with it, so he hires a contract killer in a seedy bar to ... See full summary »
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This is an interesting early work of Robert Siodmak, one of the great masters of film noir. A certain Billie Wilder' shares the credit for the script. A still very young Heinz Rühmann, Germany's Jack Lemmon, is starring.
SPOILER ALERT Contrary to what I read somewhere, this movie is not a premake' of D.O.A. The story has, however, a certain similarity with Aki Kaurismäki's I Hired a Contract Killer. The movie is fast, very fast. Others would have made a two hour feature with the story, this one takes 56 minutes in all. It starts straight away with our young hero trying to shoot a bullet into his head. No explanation whatsoever is given as to his motives moviegoers in the Germany of 1931 obviously did not need any. He is disturbed by a burglar and puts a contract on himself, so to speak. The burglar tells him that he will hit him in the near future and dutifully makes a cross on his back with a piece of chalk not unlike the M' in Fritz Lang's movie of the same year. With the cross on his back the young hero goes to a nightclub and falls in love with a young girl. Of course he tries to rescind from the contract and desperately looks for the burglar, only to learn that he had passed on the job to a subcontractor! Not just any subcontractor, but the very same Jim, the man with the scar, as he solemnly declares.
In this movie German Expressionism meets American slapstick. The result is a very entertaining picture with dark humor that verges on the abyss of desperation. You feel that its makers had great fun doing it. The sound effects are hilarious. The wind sounds like the wind machine in a movie studio, and you have the impression that it is done that way on purpose. Watch for a hilarious ride in an ambulance with its grotesquely accelerated sequences. The Berlin of the early 30ies flits past in quirky angles.
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