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A professional hitman is hired by a friend to commit two murders. His friend pays him off in what turns out to be stolen money, and the police soon trace the money to him. On the run, he kidnaps the girlfriend of the police detective in charge of his pursuit and threatens to kill her unless the hunt is called off. Written by
An icy hit-man seeks revenge after being double-crossed by his employer.
Catch those early scenes with an over-heated Vickers (Daisy). I don't know what director Cagney told her, but she does everything except kiss the camera. Given the generally slack results, I can see why Cagney never again directed. The movie itself is spotty, at best, with an erratic script and uneven acting. Johnson (Glory) and Aubuchon (Barhwell) are fine; however, lead actor Ivers (Kyle) lacks the gravitas to carry off the merciless hit-man. He looks a little like Cagney, but is a long way from the latter's compelling charisma. (Note how the physically slight Ivers wears a bulky trenchcoat in most scenes.) Of the two leads, it's really Georgann Johnson who has the strong presence. Note too, the subtle hints that Bahrwell might well be gay, rather daring innuendo for the time.
Cagney's pretty good at staging. The industrial plant scenes are both eye-catchers and ominously suggestive. And I'm wondering whose lavish Hollywood estate was used for the finale. Speaking of the estate, the showdown is a lot tamer than I expected, given Bahrwell's slimy character. And shouldn't overlook the two execution scenes that are quite graphic, for the time. However, there are also two contrived implausiblesGlory donning Kyle's decoy outfit even though she's certain to get shot; plus, thug Nichols' (Vye) recovering quickly with hardly a mark after a savage beating. Neither is well thought out.
Not surprisingly, Johnson went on to a very respectable TV career, while it looks like Ivers never again had a lead role. Fortunately, Cagney went back to what he did bestacting. All in all, the movie fails to have any lasting impact despite the strong premise. It's definitely not the best version of novelist Greene's This Gun For Hire.
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