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This Gun for Hire (1942)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  3 November 1942 (Mexico)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 5,642 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 44 critic

When hired killer Philip Raven shoots a blackmailer and his beautiful female companion dead, he's is paid off in marked bills by his treasonous employer who is working with foreign spies.

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(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Laird Cregar ...
...
...
...
Olin Howland ...
Blair Fletcher (as Olin Howlin)
Roger Imhof ...
Pamela Blake ...
Annie
Frank Ferguson ...
Victor Kilian ...
Drew
Patricia Farr ...
Ruby
Harry Shannon ...
Steve Finnerty
Charles C. Wilson ...
Police Captain
Mikhail Rasumny ...
Slukey
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Storyline

Hit man Philip Raven, who's kind to children and cats, kills a blackmailer and is paid off by traitor Willard Gates in "hot" money. Meanwhile, pert entertainer Ellen Graham, girlfriend of police Lieut. Crane (who's after Raven) is enlisted by a Senate committee to help investigate Gates. Raven, seeking Gates for revenge, meets Ellen on the train; their relationship gradually evolves from that of killer and potential victim to an uneasy alliance against a common enemy. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Lover without a heart...killer without a conscience! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 November 1942 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Die Narbenhand  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although the original book was published in the UK with the title "A Gun for Sale" in 1936, it was published in the US with the title "This Gun for Hire" also in 1936. See more »

Goofs

In the scene early in the movie where Raven shoots through the door to kill the female witness, the slide on his 1903 model Colt pocket automatic doesn't cycle and no empty cartridge is ejected, indicating that the pistol was loaded with a low-powered blank. See more »

Quotes

Willard Gates: Such a lovely body. It's revolting.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in My Favorite Brunette (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

Now You See It, Now You Don't
(1942) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Music by Jacques Press
Performed by Veronica Lake (dubbed by Martha Mears)
See more »

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User Reviews

Digging below the surface...
25 January 2001 | by See all my reviews

My first glimpse of this film was in "L.A. Confidential", where Kim Basinger, a Veronica Lake look-alike hooker (I'm totally in agreement with Russell Crowe's character when he comments that Basinger looks better than Veronica Lake), has the movie playing in the background during the train scene. Having finally watched the whole thing, I can easily see why Curtis Hansen and Brian Helgaland gave "This Gun For Hire" that respectful tip of the hat.

It is obvious that this was made during WWII from its references to the overseas menace, but I personally wouldn't let such politics get in the way of enjoying and understanding this movie. To do that, one must focus on the character of Raven (as played by Alan Ladd), a vicious, detached hitman with a soft spot for kids and cats...but no friends. He doesn't kill because it's fun for him; it's just a job. He does live by his own code, a major tenet of which is never to doublecross him. One thing that seems to sail right over people's heads is the fact that Raven is the product of an abused childhood. That such a defining bit made it to the screen (and that the abuser was female) should tell one how little audiences paid attention to such things, in spite of the fact that such were not and are still not isolated incidents.

Patriotism does not motivate Raven in the slightest, just his own self interest. The reason he eventually does what he does has more to do with Veronica Lake, probably the only friend he has ever truly had. I almost wonder if, in her, he sees the mother that he never truly had...but one can also write that one off as Freudian BS so make of it what you will. One thing that shouldn't be ignored, on the other hand, is the fact that, but for a lucky distraction, he would have plugged her to leave less of a trail. It's only when she refuses to hand him over to his enemies that their strange friendship really begins. All this makes Raven one of the most unromantic, unglamourous hard-boiled protagonists that have made it to screen.

Now, as to Ms. Lake, the thing that struck me about her was how unglamourous SHE was here. I don't mean that as an insult, mind, just that she seemed to share a characteristic with Kathrine Hepburn in that comparing her with the other sex goddesses of the time would be like comparing the moon to the sun. As is fitting with the story, she strikes one as being more motherly rather than gun moll material. Not that she can't bring the house down; her opening song-and-magic routine is one of the great all-time showstoppers. In fact, the only time I really had cause to hate her is when she gets into the arms of her cop fiancee and says "Hold me." at the end, but it's a minor complaint. Had there been a more radiant actress, the whole thing would have fallen apart. As it is, she fits perfectly.

Don't let the overt mobilization messages distract you. "This Gun For Hire" has a lot more on its mind that's still with us today.


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