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Murder by Contract (1958)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,096 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 19 critic

Claude is a ruthless and efficient contract killer - until he finds his next target is a woman.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Claude
Phillip Pine ...
Marc
Herschel Bernardi ...
George
Caprice Toriel ...
Billie Williams
Michael Granger ...
Mr. Moon
...
Mary - Secretary and Party Girl (as Cathy Browne)
Joseph Mell ...
Harry - Hotel Room Waiter
Frances Osborne ...
Miss Wiley - Ex-maid
Steven Ritch ...
Detective Shooting Tear Gas
Janet Brandt
Davis Roberts ...
Hall of Records Clerk
Don Garrett ...
James William Mayflower - Plainclothesman
Gloria Victor ...
Miss Wexley - Bunco Squad
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Storyline

Claude is a young man with a regular job, no history of trouble with the law and no chance of making any real money. He also has the brains and emotional detachment to make the big bucks as a hit man, and that becomes his new job title. A string of successful hits gets him sent to Los Angeles for his latest job. There he is accompanied by two goons: one who is perpetually nervous and the other who quickly worships the young man as a hero. The cold, ruthless hit man finally becomes unglued when he finds out that his latest target is a woman. She's a witness, set to testify against his boss, and guarded day and night by the police. It's her femininity that worries Claude: women are unpredictable, they don't do what you expect. Claude eventually proves that he is the unpredictable one and his own worst enemy. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's Kill or Be Killed!


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Details

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Release Date:

December 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assassino per contratto  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shot in seven days. See more »

Quotes

Claude: The only type killing that's safe is when a stranger kills a stranger. No motive. Nothing to link the victim to the executioner. Now why would a stranger kill a stranger? Because somebody's willing to pay. It's business. Same as any other business. You murder the competition. Instead of price-cutting, throat-cutting. Same thing. There are a lot of people around that would like to see lots of other people die a fast death... only they can't see to it themselves. They got conscience, religion, ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in I Know Who Killed Me (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Or "Zen and the Art of the Hired Gun"
2 January 2007 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

Or "Zen and the Art of the Hired Gun". "Murder By Contract" may possibly be the most sadly overlooked crime film of all-time. Martin Scorcese is one of the film's main champions, so maybe he could work around with some connections to get this gem released to DVD. If this and "Blast of Silence" were available to a wider audience, the world would be a better place. Unfortunately, its neglected to a very small cult following who seek it out through expensive gray market bootlegs of varying quality. This is really unfortunate, because what we have here is really unlike anything I've seen. Its low-key and minimalist quality is quite unique. This isn't a quickly paced film-noir along the lines of "Kiss Me Deadly" or "The Killing". This is a more slow and introspective portrait of a hit-man and what exactly makes him tick. Its a shame that neither director Irving Lerner nor screenwriter Ben Simcoe did anything else of note, because they created a minor masterpiece. As far as b-films go, this is one of the best I've seen.

As the hep cat hired gun Claude, Vince Edwards has never been better. Some of his dialog may be goofy, but the philosophy behind it makes it all work. Hes also cool as all hell in that beatnik style. The film thankfully avoids making his situations unbelievable or over-the-top. The realism of it is another key component. The two supporting mobsters' characters are a tad annoying at first but eventually fit the film very well. The film also extremely atmospheric and moody, never flashy or outrageous. Adding to all this is a perfect acoustic guitar score by Perry Botkin. The only thing that keeps this from being a complete masterpiece is the ending which is a bit of a let down (I was hoping for something more along the lines of "Blast of Silence"). Still, this is one of the best b-films ever made. I'd go so far as to saying it ranks with "Detour". (9/10)


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