42 user 27 critic

Murder by Contract (1958)

1:58 | Trailer
Claude is a ruthless and efficient contract killer - until he finds his next target is a woman.


Irving Lerner


Ben Simcoe
1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Vince Edwards ... Claude
Phillip Pine ... Marc
Herschel Bernardi ... George
Caprice Toriel ... Billie Williams
Michael Granger Michael Granger ... Mr. Moon
Kathie Browne ... Mary (as Cathy Browne)
Joseph Mell ... Harry
Frances Osborne ... Miss Wiley
Steven Ritch Steven Ritch ... Detective Shooting Tear Gas
Janet Brandt ... Woman in the Movie Theater
Davis Roberts ... Hall of Records Clerk
Don Garrett Don Garrett ... James William Mayflower
Gloria Victor Gloria Victor ... Miss Wexley


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


DOUBLE RATES FOR WOMEN...because a woman is always double trouble! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When Claude asks to see the Pacific Ocean, they drive by Thelma Todd's restaurant on the left. See more »


As already noted, the drive around Los Angeles was shot in a studio except for the shot from behind when Vince Edwards's hair blowing in the breeze. That was shot from inside a moving car. When shot from the front, inside the studio, his hair doesn't move. See more »


Claude: [to Harry with contempt] Why are you miserable? Cause you haven't got any dough? And why haven't you got any dough? Because you're too scared to go out and get it yourself. You want it to come to you. Well, nothing comes to you, Harry. Nothing except one thing... death. Death comes to you... comes to everybody. Only everybody thinks they'll live forever.
Claude: There's a laugh. They think they'll live forever. The way i see it, Harry, everybody lives off everybody else.
See more »


Referenced in Taxi Driver (1976) See more »

User Reviews

A small classic
3 June 2017 | by MOscarbradleySee all my reviews

A B-movie and something of a small classic comparable to Melville's "Le Samourai" which it may have influenced. Vince Edwards in his pre-Ben Casey days is the young man who actually wants to be a contract killer and the movie is about his somewhat clinical initiation into the job. Superbly written by Ben Simcoe, brilliantly photographed in black and white by Lucien Ballard and with a terrific yet simple score by Perry Botkin this movie comes close to perfection. It was directed by Irving Lerner who up to then hadn't really done anything of note, (perhaps he was just waiting for the right material). Edwards is superb as the almost overly confident killer who comes undone when he has to kill a woman. It's a very simple picture, in which almost all the killings are kept off-screen concentrating instead on the killer's psychology and how he goes about his work. Never a commercial success it has now build up a considerable cult following.

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Release Date:

18 December 1958 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Murder by Contract See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orbit Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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