This Gun for Hire (1942)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  3 November 1942 (Mexico)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 5,917 users  
Reviews: 70 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.



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An ex-bomber pilot is suspected of murdering his unfaithful wife.

Director: George Marshall
Stars: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix
The Glass Key (1942)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

During the campaign for reelection, the crooked politician Paul Madvig decides to clean up his past, refusing the support of the gangster Nick Varna and associating to the respectable ... See full summary »

Director: Stuart Heisler
Stars: Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Brian Donlevy
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley
Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A beautiful 17th-century witch returns to life to plague politician Wallace Wooley, descendant of her persecutor.

Director: René Clair
Stars: Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Robert Benchley
Crossfire (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A man is murdered, apparently by one of a group of soldiers just out of the army. But which one? And why?

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan
The Killers (1946)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The lady editor of a crime magazine hires Philip Marlowe to find the wife of her boss. The private detective soon finds himself involved in murder.

Director: Robert Montgomery
Stars: Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan
Criss Cross (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Yvonne De Carlo, Dan Duryea
The Set-Up (1949)
Film-Noir | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Over-the-hill boxer Bill 'Stoker' Thompson insists he can still win, though his sexy wife Julie pleads with him to quit. But his manager Tiny is so confident he will lose, he takes money ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Robert Ryan, Audrey Totter, George Tobias
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Social worker tries to befriend local slum gang.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: John Cassavetes, Sal Mineo, James Whitmore
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

After another cardiac arrest, Armand knows he doesn't have long to live. But after more than 70 years in the same house, he doesn't want to die anywhere else. His wife, Rose, has secretly ... See full summary »

Director: Jean Pierre Lefebvre
Stars: Marthe Nadeau, J. Léo Gagnon, Marcel Sabourin


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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 November 1942 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Die Narbenhand  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dickie Jones (Raven as a Boy) and Hermine Sterler (Raven's Aunt) are listed in studio records as members of the cast, but those scenes were cut before the film's release. Studio records also indicate a running time of about 93 minutes, indicating about 12 minutes were eventually cut from the film. See more »


While unconscious, Ellen is shown lying on the couch tied up and gagged. Her wrists and upper torso are tied, but her ankles are untied. However, after she is picked up and carried into the next room, her ankles are now bound. See more »


Ellen Graham: Why don't you go to the police?
Philip Raven: I'm my own police.
See more »


Edited into This Is It (2009) See more »


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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Doublecrossing A Killer, When he's his own Police
26 September 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The film that launched Alan Ladd's career, This Gun For Hire is a very short film like the earlier Public Enemy which gave James Cagney his stardom. This would be the normal length of a B film, but it definitely gets all it wants to say in its brief running time.

Essentially we have three stories where all the principal players get brought together in the end. The first involves Robert Preston investigating a reported payroll robbery of the firm that Tully Marshall is the president of. Note that I said 'reported robbery.' The second involves his girl friend, entertainer Veronica Lake being recruited by no one less than a United States Senator to get the goods on one of Marshall's top aides, Laird Cregar who they think is doing some fifth column work at the behest of Marshall. Finally we have contract killer Alan Ladd who's hired by Cregar to bump off Frank Ferguson who is blackmailing Marshall as to his treasonous activities. Preston, Ladd, and Lake don't know they are all on the same case, but by the end of the film they do.

Alan Ladd became Paramount's answer to Humphrey Bogart as a star of action/adventure films and noir films. This Gun for Hire launched his career. He was enormously popular through the Forties, Paramount's biggest star after Crosby and Hope. He played cynical tough guys in modern films, but then branched into westerns where for the most part he was the gallant hero. In fact the ultimate gallant white knight hero in Shane.

His part as Raven is a difficult one, yet he pulls it off. He's a cold blooded contract killer, one of the earliest ever portrayed as a film protagonist. Yet he's human and you see flashes of it, his concern for cats. As a cat lover, I can sure identify with that. Raven is also one of the earliest characters in cinema who talks about child abuse making him what he is. Groundbreaking when you think about it.

Next to Ladd, the biggest kudos have to go to Laird Cregar, borrowed from 20th Century Fox to play Willard Gates. Gates is a top company executive with Marshall's firm which is a defense contractor which is why the Senate is interested in him. He's basically a jerk who thinks he's so clever. Veronica Lake gets to him real easy because of his weakness for the nightclub scene. And he really doesn't take the full measure of Raven, even though the audience is very aware of how deadly he is.

When you think about it what Cregar and Marshall do is unbelievably stupid. They hire Ladd to kill Ferguson and then pay him with hot money, from the alleged robbery. Why would you do that? Chances are in the rackets they're involved in, they might have need of his services in the future. Not a guy to get mad at you. In fact their double cross is what sets the whole film plot in motion.

Moral is never double cross a guy who says and means that "I'm my own police."

This Gun for Hire was Director Frank Tuttle's finest film. He was a contract director for Paramount who did a whole bunch of films with their various stars in the Thirties and Forties. When he hadn't worked in a while, Alan Ladd got him a job directing him in Hell On Frisco Bay while he was at Warner Brothers and Tuttle also directed A Cry In the Night which Ladd produced. Ladd remembered and was grateful to Tuttle for helping break through into top star ranks. Ladd was like John Wayne that way, ever ready to help a colleague down on his luck.

Veronica Lake is recruited by a U.S. Senator with a fictitious name, but in fact there was a committee looking into all kinds of things like this in the Senate in regard to the conduct of the war. It was headed by a Senator from Missouri named Harry Truman who went on to higher office. I wonder if Truman liked This Gun for Hire? Veronica Lake got a big boost in her career. She and Ladd became a classic screen team as a result of this film.

This film is one great cinematic classic, so important to so many careers and still keeps you on the edge of your seat today.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Lake and Ladd - Nordic Twins Noir-It-All
Fetishism elmsyrup
Philip? Darth_Carousel53
Avaliable Online? adrianafrance
What music is playing in the background? Andrew!
Robert Preston only 24 years old !! jimjoejohnmoore
Discuss This Gun for Hire (1942) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: