A man hires a hitman to kill him so his wife can collect on his life insurance. He changes his mind, but he must get to the killer and tell him so before the killer gets to him first. Written by
Taking advantage of arrangements favoured by the UK's Eady levy (a state film subsidy established after the war) in 1950, American producer Robert Lippert formed a business alliance with Hammer studios. Under the agreement, Lippert would provide American acting talent - frequently shop-worn stars or just supporting actors who fancied a profitable trip out of the country - while Hammer would supply the rest of the cast and the production facilities. Together they would split the profits. Famous for his concern with the bottom line, Lippert produced over 140 films between 1946 and 1955, characteristically genre pieces such as I Shot Jesse James or Rocketship XM. For the British deal, most of the films were noir-ish thrillers -including 5 DAYS/ PAID TO KILL.
Dane Clark appeared several times under the production arrangement, but makes one of his most successful entries here as a man in a jam, with a plan, and a dame. Possessing a characteristic persecuted look, Clark is eminently suited to the role of businessman James Nevill who - fearing that a big deal has gone sour - pays a friend to kill him, to secure insurance money for his unsuspecting wife. Nevill abruptly needs to change his murderous instructions when matters change for the better, but cannot find his unreliable friend. He finds the repeated attempts on his life - whoever it is making them - too close for comfort. Says a business acquaintance of Nevill's business style that: "it's okay for cutthroat and adventure - but not for the City of London." Such a contrast exists elsewhere in a film containing one or two jarring, humorous scenes, featuring Charles Hawtrey (a non-speaking part) partnering Nevill's troublesome, truculent investor. Away from these distractions the film is much stronger, notably in the understated love for Nevill shown by his secretary Joan (Cecile Chavreau), which is played subtly. Although for many the film's final twist is telegraphed someway in advance, 5 Days/Paid To Kill is reasonably suspenseful and largely successful on its own terms, efficiently directed by Tully.
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