5.8/10
204
13 user 3 critic

Short Cut to Hell (1957)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | September 1957 (USA)
A professional hitman is hired by a friend to commit two murders. His friend pays him off in what turns out to be stolen money, and the police soon trace the money to him. On the run, he ... See full summary »

Director:

James Cagney

Writers:

Graham Greene (novel), Ted Berkman (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
William Bishop ... Sgt. Stan Lowery
Robert Ivers ... Kyle Niles
Georgann Johnson ... Glory Hamilton
Yvette Vickers ... Daisy
Murvyn Vye ... Nichols
Jacques Aubuchon ... Bahrwell
Peter Baldwin ... Carl Adams
Richard Hale ... AT
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Storyline

A professional hitman is hired by a friend to commit two murders. His friend pays him off in what turns out to be stolen money, and the police soon trace the money to him. On the run, he kidnaps the girlfriend of the police detective in charge of his pursuit and threatens to kill her unless the hunt is called off. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Professional killer...with a gun for hire!

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

À deux pas de l'enfer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Cagney was asked to direct by longtime friend A.C. Lyles. See more »

Quotes

[Kyle just told Glory that he's a professional killer]
Glory Hamilton: Is there anything you like about yourself?
Kyle: Yeah. I never miss.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Here's Lucy: Lucy and Carol Burnett (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm in the Mood for Love
(uncredited)
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
See more »

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User Reviews

Spotty, at Best
2 April 2014 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

An icy hit-man seeks revenge after being double-crossed by his employer.

Catch those early scenes with an over-heated Vickers (Daisy). I don't know what director Cagney told her, but she does everything except kiss the camera. Given the generally slack results, I can see why Cagney never again directed. The movie itself is spotty, at best, with an erratic script and uneven acting. Johnson (Glory) and Aubuchon (Barhwell) are fine; however, lead actor Ivers (Kyle) lacks the gravitas to carry off the merciless hit-man. He looks a little like Cagney, but is a long way from the latter's compelling charisma. (Note how the physically slight Ivers wears a bulky trenchcoat in most scenes.) Of the two leads, it's really Georgann Johnson who has the strong presence. Note too, the subtle hints that Bahrwell might well be gay, rather daring innuendo for the time.

Cagney's pretty good at staging. The industrial plant scenes are both eye-catchers and ominously suggestive. And I'm wondering whose lavish Hollywood estate was used for the finale. Speaking of the estate, the showdown is a lot tamer than I expected, given Bahrwell's slimy character. And shouldn't overlook the two execution scenes that are quite graphic, for the time. However, there are also two contrived implausibles—Glory donning Kyle's decoy outfit even though she's certain to get shot; plus, thug Nichols' (Vye) recovering quickly with hardly a mark after a savage beating. Neither is well thought out.

Not surprisingly, Johnson went on to a very respectable TV career, while it looks like Ivers never again had a lead role. Fortunately, Cagney went back to what he did best—acting. All in all, the movie fails to have any lasting impact despite the strong premise. It's definitely not the best version of novelist Greene's This Gun For Hire.


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