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Lee J. Cobb
Hit-man Clint Harris has one more job to do before he can retire. The corporation which hires him demands that Harris "erase" an ex-employee who has become a snitch for the police. At first Harris refuses, but in the service of hired-killer-cinema tradition, his own brother is assassinated, so that he must accept. The pro is assigned an assistant, Tony Lo Bello, whom he teaches the ropes as they pursue their prey through Paris. The plot thickens when a beautiful woman identifies the target, but it turns out he has killed the wrong man! Corpses pile up as Harris wonders whom he can really trust. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hit man Robert Webber wants out of the organization but takes on one more job
"Hired Killer" is a sleeper and a really good noir. Robert Webber is a hit man for the "organization", having gotten into this line of work by being a top military sniper. Now he's grown tired of the killing.
The opening sequence shows him at work, and it's as good a wordless sequence as you will see, as he carries out an assignment from the roof of a building. New York City's buildings play a part as a kind of cold, incommunicative but dominating landscape that houses the hidden office and people that occupy this man-made jungle and seek advantage over one another, killing if need be. Webber gets his payoff from a business-like organization member in one of these anonymous offices that could be that of any banker, lawyer, publisher or advertising executive.
Webber turns down another generous deal to kill Frank Secchy in Paris. But when his brother is gunned down, Webber takes on the job. He usually works alone, but he's made to take on Franco Nero as both assistant, including muscle, and trainee. When they arrive in Paris, they meet with many difficulties. The main two are that Secchy has had plastic surgery, changing his appearance, and his location is unknown. Webber becomes a kind of detective searching for Secchy, with Nero, who one might not even recognize at this stage in his career.
The search and story turn out to be complex, with the elements of double cross, distrust, and deception all entering in. In a way, the atmosphere becomes as thick as the contemporary "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold". The opening scenes carry on the traditions of such noirs as "Murder by Contract" and "The Lineup". The absence of police and the deep immersion into the criminal element mark "Hired Killer" as a noir too.
Webber is good in the role. He's not at all psychopathic or kill-happy. He's professional, smart, shrewd and polite. Webber has always been an effective actor. Nero handles his role very nicely too, injecting just enough unease to make one wonder whether he will turn out to be what Jan-Michael Vincent was to Charles Bronson in "The Mechanic" (1972). The female support, Jeanne Valerie, does just fine too, playing an attractive drug addict. Her career ran 1959-1991.
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