7.4/10
8,188
87 user 47 critic

This Gun for Hire (1942)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 26 May 1942 (Canada)
Clip
1:02 | Clip
When assassin Philip Raven shoots a blackmailer and his beautiful female companion dead, he is paid off in marked bills by his treasonous employer who is working with foreign spies.

Director:

Frank Tuttle

Writers:

Albert Maltz (screen play), W.R. Burnett (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Veronica Lake ... Ellen Graham
Robert Preston ... Michael Crane
Laird Cregar ... Willard Gates
Alan Ladd ... Philip Raven
Tully Marshall ... Alvin Brewster
Marc Lawrence ... Tommy
Olin Howland ... Blair Fletcher (as Olin Howlin)
Roger Imhof ... Senator Burnett
Pamela Blake ... Annie
Frank Ferguson ... Albert Baker
Victor Kilian ... Drew
Patricia Farr ... Ruby
Harry Shannon ... Steve Finnerty
Charles C. Wilson ... Police Captain
Mikhail Rasumny ... Slukey
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Storyline

Hit man Philip Raven, who's kind to children and cats, kills a blackmailer and is paid off by traitor Willard Gates in "hot" money. Meanwhile, pert entertainer Ellen Graham, girlfriend of police Lieut. Crane (who's after Raven) is enlisted by a Senate committee to help investigate Gates. Raven, seeking Gates for revenge, meets Ellen on the train; their relationship gradually evolves from that of killer and potential victim to an uneasy alliance against a common enemy. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Lover without a heart...killer without a conscience! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. An immediate favorite among local television audiences, its initial telecast took place in Omaha Thursday 6 November 1958, where it launched the Paramount Film Library on KETV (Channel 7), followed by simultaneous showings Friday 9 January 1959 both in Philadelphia on WCAU (Channel 10) and in San Francisco on KPIX (Channel 5), by Los Angeles Saturday 17 January 1959 on KNXT (Channel 2), by New York City Sunday 1 February 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2), and by Chicago Sunday 8 February 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2). In Milwaukee it first aired 13 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), in Seattle 11 July 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), in Grand Rapids 7 August 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Phoenix 6 November 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Asheville 18 November 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13) and in St. Louis Saturday 28 November 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4). It was released on DVD 6 July 2004 as part of the Universal Noir Collection, again 10 November 2014 as part of Universal's Film Noir Movie Spotlight Collection, and, since that time, has also enjoyed occasional cable TV presentations on Turner Classic Movies. See more »

Goofs

When the old man is pronounced dead, two seconds later his mouth moves. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Annie: It's after 2:00. Can I come in now?
[pause]
Annie: Hey, you in or aren't ya?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Pulp Cinema (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Now You See It, Now You Don't
(1942) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Music by Jacques Press
Performed by Veronica Lake (dubbed by Martha Mears)
See more »

User Reviews

 
I like Cats! So says the icy cold broken wrist killer!
4 March 2008 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Phillip Raven is a hit man of no obvious moral fibre, he literally will kill anyone for the right price. After fulfilling a contract for the chocolate munching Willard Gates, he finds himself pursued by the law on account that he was paid by Gates with stolen money. Raven sets out for the ultimate revenge and dovetailing towards the explosive finale with him is sultry conjurer Ellen Graham and honest cop Michael Crane.

Based on the Graham Greene novel A Gun For Sale, this is not a straight out adaptation, the plot has been re-jigged with very impressive results. The most enlightening thing I found when reading up on the film was that the studio were so blown away by the efforts of Alan Ladd as Raven, they turned the script around to make him the films chief axis, and boy what a smart move that was for this is Alan Ladd's show all the way.

Ladd plays Raven with brilliant icy veneer, he's cold and devoid of emotion, his only trip to anything resembling caring is an affinity to cats because in his own words, "cats don't need anyone, they are on their own, just like me", the result is one of the most unnerving killers put on to the 40s cinema screens. Veronica Lake is the stunning female of the piece, she glides through the picture with ease as Ellen, a character with her own issues, but thankfully she's integral outside of any sort of romantic plot, even though she is the only one who gets close enough to Raven to learn anything about what makes him tick.

Robert Preston as Michael Crane was to be the pics focus but he becomes a mere side part thanks to Ladd's barnstorming show, and unsurprisingly Laird Cregar is suitably shifty as Gates. It's a fine film in its own right, it's tightly filmed, wonderfully scripted and contains a great noir ending, but ultimately it's all about the cold as death hit-man Raven, and the great performance by the man who played him. 8.5/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 May 1942 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

This Gun for Hire See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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