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Murder by Contract (1958)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,115 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!


Certificate:

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Details

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Release Date:

December 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assassino per contratto  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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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

The abandoned movie studio location in the film is the former Charlie Chaplin Studio. 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

Inventive, Offbeat Crime Drama
6 May 2003 | by (Out there in the dark) – See all my reviews

MURDER BY CONTRACT is not at all what one might expect. This is not a studio-bound, TV-influenced, watered-down would be Film Noir. In fact, it's not a Film Noir at all, but a crime drama, at once witty and serious. This odd, quirky little film is a triumph over budget limitations. Director Irving Lerner makes the most of LA locations, interesting camera setups, a witty screenplay and a well-chosen cast.

Vince Edwards, who would later work with Lerner on 'Ben Casey', is very effective as Claude, an educated, philosophical hit man. The script is peppered with many amusing and even thought-provoking observations on Claude's 'business'. Lending equally entertaining support are Hershel Bernardi and TV stalwart Philip Pine, who play the somewhat inept hoods assigned to guide Claude to his target. While the late Kathie Browne is quite good as very confused call girl, thoroughly unprepared for the likes of Claude.

The film subverts conventional expectations at almost every turn. Besides the wit and visual interest, there is also an unusual musical score by Perry Botkin, Jr., played entirely on guitar. One theme, associated directly with Claude, has a catchy Italian pop song-style melody.

A very inventive, unexpected pleasure, MURDER BY CONTRACT deserves to be better known.


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