7.5/10
7,298
79 user 41 critic

This Gun for Hire (1942)

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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ON DISC
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 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:

He's dynamite with a gun or a girl. See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 September 1942 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Narbenhand See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$12,000,000, 31 December 1942
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During production, stars Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake were interviewed on set during a live broadcast from Paramount's experimental television station W6XYZ. There were less than three hundred television receivers in Los Angeles at the time. See more »

Goofs

After Raven demands Annie leave his room he sees the kitten on the floor with the overturned condensed milk can. The saucer is not on the floor but when the angle changes the saucer is on the floor and the kitten is drinking from it. See more »

Quotes

Ruby: What's the matter? You look like you've been on a hayride with Dracula.
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Connections

Version of Short Cut to Hell (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

I've Got You
(1942) (uncredited)
Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Music by Jacques Press
Performed by Veronica Lake (dubbed by Martha Mears)
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User Reviews

Great early Noir
28 December 2004 | by McGonigleSee all my reviews

This is a great, compelling crime thriller that stands the test of time quite well. This would be one of the first movies I'd choose to show to a fan of recent movies who wants to explore classic thrillers but doesn't know where to start (along with "The Maltese Falcon" and one or two others). While many period pieces are "appreciated", this one still provides a jolt of adrenaline right from the opening scene, when Alan Ladd rips the maid's dress and slaps her. He's a bad man, no doubt about it, and his portrayal throughout most of the movie is surprisingly dark, even by today's standards. His character, Raven, is a man whose sole act of human compassion is not to murder a crippled orphan in cold blood, and Ladd's performance is underplayed just enough to make him chillingly believable.

This is a relatively early feature in the cycle that would later be called "film noir". A few films had begun to establish the new look and feel for the new generation of gangster movies, but the archetypal noirs were still a couple of years off. This movie is an interesting example of the early style because it visits the typical noir territory (culturally and emotionally) but avoids the stereotypical noir cast of characters. Rather than a flawed, weak man and a femme fatale, "This Gun For Hire" gives us a coldly amoral killer as the male lead and a tough, streetwise woman as the main "good guy" (her cop boyfriend spends most of the film running around frantically and accomplishing nothing).

Visually, this film is pure noir. It's directed by Frank Tuttle, who made the first version of "The Glass Key" in 1935, combining a hard-boiled gangster story and expressionist-influenced lighting. "This Gun For Hire" fits firmly into that mode, and shows that many of the stylistic trademarks of the supposedly "post-war" Noir style were firmly in place before the US had even been in WW2 for a full year. More importantly, it provides thrills, and a great dose of "the good stuff" in a neat, 81-minute-long package.


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