7.4/10
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Murder by Contract (1958)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | December 1958 (USA)
Claude is a ruthless and efficient contract killer - until he finds his next target is a woman.

Director:

Irving Lerner

Writer:

Ben Simcoe
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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 - Secretary and Party Girl (as Cathy Browne)
Joseph Mell Joseph Mell ... Harry - Hotel Room Waiter
Frances Osborne Frances Osborne ... Miss Wiley - Ex-maid
Steven Ritch Steven Ritch ... Detective Shooting Tear Gas
Janet Brandt Janet Brandt
Davis Roberts ... Hall of Records Clerk
Don Garrett Don Garrett ... James William Mayflower - Plainclothesman
Gloria Victor Gloria Victor ... Miss Wexley - Bunco Squad
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

It's Kill or Be Killed!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Assassinio per contratto See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orbit Productions 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

The abandoned movie studio location in the film is the former Charlie Chaplin Studio. See more »

Goofs

In the last scene, when Claude is trying to escape through the drainage pipe the pipe is at least four feet high, when it is supposed to be only two feet. See more »

Quotes

Claude: [to George] The human female is descended from the monkey, and monkeys are about the most curious animal in the world. If anything goes on, it just can't stand it not to know about it. Same thing with a woman.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The American Soldier (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Nearly Flawless
11 September 2003 | by secragtSee all my reviews

Frankly, I came in expecting little from this totally anonymous abbreviated 50s crime drama and left the theatre shocked at how much bang for my 67 minutes I got. I am hard-pressed to think of another movie of this length which accomplishes as much plotwise or entertains as much audiencewise as this thoroughly neglected late-50s gem.

Vince Edwards leaps off the screen with amazing charisma to burn and Bernardi and Pine are nearly as effective as the hapless bumbling mobsters assigned to chaperone him through his contract. Conflict, wit, suspense, and outright humor abounds in this simultaneously clever and tense little script. Even the non-existent production values are completely camouflaged by economic and nimbly staged set-pieces.

The ending is probably the one weak point... it's a bit sudden and anti-climactic given what the movie seems to be building to. However, the good performances, nifty cinematography (some good POV work), and satisfyingly unconventional script make this slightly warped b-movie a classic which deserves far, far more attention. Melodramatic? Hell yeah. But in the best self-aware and crowd-pleasing tradition. 9/10 and worthy of the time of any crime drama or noir fan. Trust me.


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