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Murder by Contract (1958)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 994 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 17 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

Country:

Language:

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

Mr. Moon: I'm a retired real estate broker. I don't do anything anymore but sit in my room, look at television, and smoke cigars.
Claude: I'd still like to work for you.
Mr. Moon: Doing what?
Claude: I want to be a contractor.
Mr. Moon: Have you done it before?
Claude: No, sir.
Mr. Moon: You can only make a mistake once in this job.
Claude: Well, I'm different.
Mr. Moon: What do you mean you're different?
Claude: I don't make mistakes.
[...]
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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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