Murder by Contract (1958)

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



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Complete credited cast:
Phillip Pine ...
Herschel Bernardi ...
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


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


It's Kill or Be Killed!


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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


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


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


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, ...
See more »


Referenced in Le Samouraï (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

A slightly different low budget crime thriller.

Vince Edwards is Claude, a college educated young man from a middle class background with a decent job who decides upward mobility can be achieved by becoming a contract killer. Claude is clever and carefully plans his hits. However, he proves himself to be too clever when hired to kill a female witness in a federal mob trial.

MURDER BY CONTRACT is a not bad, very low budget crime thriller made when the market for low budget crime thrillers was shrinking. Having the ruthless Claude come from a respectable background makes its slightly different from other films of this nature. The film at times shows some inventiveness in the camera work and editing. Phillip Pine and Herschel Bernardi give good support. There is one scene where Edwards is sent to kill a man on life support in a hospital. He sneaks in disguised as a doctor, which is rather ironic, considering future developments in Edwards career.

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