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bizarre movie, beautiful Lee Remick
blanche-211 April 2009
I'm assuming the comments I read on this site were written by horny guys - the accolades to Lee Remick's beauty take up most of the comments. She is absolutely gorgeous and sexy in this movie, and I agree, she's the main reason to see this film.

James Coburn has a "Hard Contract" in this 1969 film about a top hit man, John Cunningham, who's sent to Europe by his boss Ramsey (Burgess Meredith) to kill three people, one of whom, Michael Carlson (Sterling Hayden) was his predecessor in the job. Cummingham is a man completely detached from human emotion; he only pays for sex, won't kiss, and won't let a woman spend the night. While in Europe, he meets a beautiful woman, Sheila Metcalfe (the afore - and oft-mentioned - Remick) and her group of friends, including Adrianne (Lilli Palmer) and an ex-Nazi. Sheila falls for Cummingham, the rest of the group adopts him, and before Cunningham knows it, he's become, for the first time, part of the human race. Carlson knows what he's there for immediately, and the two have a confrontation. Cunningham has started to realize there's something in the world besides killing.

This movie makes a great effort to be deep. It doesn't really know what it is; it lacks a point of view, but it does convey a message. Some of it is kind of cryptic. I actually thought there were lines of dialogue missing from the version I saw.

Coburn is very good as a man who finally realizes he can't avoid living; Remick as an outrageous, adventurous socialite gives a wonderful performance; Palmer as her dizzy friend is delightful. Hayden, never a favorite of mine, was an unusual man in real life, and I think what made him special as a person comes through here. The retired hit man is one who thought a good deal about the meaning of life, as did Hayden, and found peace within himself. Hayden, after his forays into Communism, his guilt over cooperating with the committee, and his basically going out to sea and writing, did the same thing. Karen Black has a small role as a prostitute in the beginning of the film.

A really wonderful cast, an uneven film, a kind of blah ending - still worth seeing for Remick and Coburn in their primes.
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"Watch And See"
Eric Chapman17 April 2001
Ponderous? At times. Pretentious? Sure, a little. But what a strange, sumptuous, utterly hypnotic experience this is. I haven't seen all that many from this time period but it is quite unlike anything else I can think of. There are stylistic similarities to Nicholas Roeg I guess, with intentionally disorienting editing and jarring perspectives, but that's about all that comes to mind. And perhaps Richard Rush's great "THE STUNT MAN". The seamless, fluid dissolves are what stick with me the most; just the way cryptic little bits of dialogue evaporate at the end of one scene and haunt the next. The movie has an elusive, swirling quality; watching it you sometimes have the feeling that you are weightless and that this is a vision of some afterlife or parallel world.

It's really driving at something, this film. Its many enigmatic characters are constantly circling each other, digging, trying to figure out what makes them tick, whether or not they're one of "them" or one of "us". Made in 1969, I think the film is an understandably confused, troubled reaction to what was undoubtedly an incredibly turbulent decade. Its biggest fear is that terror and violence have become so commonplace they are no longer the exclusive property of evil. "Good" may use them too in steadily increasing proportions, and soon the two are indistinguishable. But there is also a sense of some small hope here, a chance for redemption, rebirth. James Coburn's last bitten off words echo chillingly as the credits roll: "Watch And See. Watch And See".
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I Agree with all
cyril-815-29016631 May 2016
i don't think anyone will just chose this movie to watch out of the blue. if you're watching Hard Contract you either are a Coburn or Remick fan. yes, like others said its boring but (like others said...) it's dullness is something in itself. Movies were more real (if one can make such a statement) back then - kind of raw, intelligent doesn't pander to the viewer. those times are gone but this Coburn movie along with "Duffy" can transport you back in time to 1968/70. The world of movies back then made you think - you didn't have everything spelled out for you. They also challenged your beliefs - if you do that now a days, the PC police will put you in your place.
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whpratt113 May 2003
James Coburn(John Cunninghman) gets very distracted when Lee Remick (Sheila Metcalfe) enters his room as a hooker and gives him plenty of action. He almost forgets about doing his final hit to retire on. This film is filled with great actors, Burgess Meredith( Ramsey Williams) who also played in Rocky 1 and Rocky 2. Karen Black (Ellen) and Sterling Hayden give excellelnt supporting roles along with Lilli Palmer(Adrianne), Lee Remick's close friend. This film cannot be ignored, it has too many veteran actors to make it an all time classic film of the late 60's.
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When Is Enough Enough?
Robert J. Maxwell10 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Nice opening shot of anonymous people eating hot dogs and hamburgers in a Los Angeles cafe. The camera pans down the faces of the customers, each concentrating on his indulgence, until it gets to James Coburn, who is as absorbed as the others. He leaves, walks down the city streets, followed at some distance by another anonymous figure. Coburn settles himself down in a seat in a movie theater showing a public service short of starving African children, rank with pathos. The other man sits nearby. And when Coburn stands up and walks away, the shadower is dead, murdered somehow by Coburn. Coburn, it develops, is a business-like hit man for the CIA. He doesn't kiss, he doesn't talk about himself, and he only sleeps with paid women. His affable manager, Burgess Meredith, has a new contract for him. Two men in Spain and Belgium, one of them not yet identified.

By this time, ten or so minutes into the film, it's become clear that this isn't likely to be a stupid, decerebrate preparation for adolescents who enjoy seeing action heroes make wisecracks as they wrench off the head of an enemy. Coburn doesn't play the paid killer as mean or abrasive. He's efficient but he can be amused and grin -- that Coburn grin, full of blinding white choppers. And Burgess Meredith has a conversation with him that's intelligent and perceptive. The conversation is about the history of murder, how it's evolved from brute rage to a carefully planned event, so precise that you can hardly notice it. This is 1968-69, and it helps to remember what was going on at the time.

In Torremolinos, a resort town in Spain's Costa del Sol, where his victims are, the first thing Coburn does is ask the hotel's manager for a woman, for whom he will pay $50. Informed of this, three people at the bar laugh and one observes that you don't pay for a woman here because it's all free. The three people at the bar are all "rich, white Protestants" -- Lee Remick, an American jet setter; Patrick Magee as a taciturn German; and Lilli Palmer, still lovely under that impasto of gook and the beguiling contours of her German-accented speech a delight. Remick reveals herself to be a bit reckless and as a lark, posing as a whore, arranges to be hired for an hour or two by Coburn. He must be some dynamo in the kip because afterward she seems dazed and falls in love with him. "I'll never spend that 6,000 pesetas," she vows to Palmer. Then it gets complicated as all stories about hit men and their victims must.

Next stop -- Tangiers, where Palmer spills the beans about Remick's not being a working girl. The quietly unflappable Coburn absorbs it all and his relationship with Remick becomes warmer. He allows her to spend the night and even kiss him at will. Okay, so he's broken his rules, but who wouldn't? She's even lowered her price from 6,000 pesetas to 3,000.

I think he offs another victim in Tangiers but I'm not sure. The script is suggestive rather than declarative and the dialog can get elliptical. "This is Spain. Anything can happen, or not happen, or half happen." "There's no such thing as a miracle; that's what so miraculous."

Next stop -- Coburn is seated in a cafe in rainy Belgium, where he witnesses a tribal altercation between the French speakers and the Flemish speakers, later a full-blown riot, language as a fomenter of rage. I think he offs another victim.

The problem is that Coburn himself is growing disturbed by what his calling has made of him. He's unsure of himself. He seeks out a hooker -- and what a event it is, set in a gloomy bordello, a French dwarf with a mean face as the Madame. And Coburn -- the dynamic lover who turns women's organs into pinwheels of delight -- finds himself impotent. "All men have zat pwoblem sometimes," his bedmate assures him.

Then -- Madrid. For the final victim, who happens to be an ex CIA hit man, Sterling Hayden, once as ruthless as Coburn is now. The white, wealthy Protestants also show up in Madrid, and it becomes clear to Magee the German, Remick the American, and Hayden the next victim in line, that Coburn is what he is. Burgess Meredith, the CIA manager, shows up too, having been worried about Coburn's commitment to his work. He's a polite and cheerful moral nihilist and as he shepherds Lilli Palmer around the Prado he explains that because of the mass media we've become desensitized to killing others. It no longer means anything. The ending is ambiguous but ominous.

I should add that all of this is photographed in classical style. The camera doesn't jump around as if it were being manipulated by some sort of spazz. The foreign locations, the gypsy wedding and so forth, are all from a comfortable tourist's point of view, the sort of perspective Hithcock was fond of. Considering that 1968 marked the florescence of the psychedelic approach to life, this is all remarkably soothing. If you glance through the writer/director's other work, this one stands out because of its thoughtfulness and its trust in the audience.
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60's jetsetting contract killer
RanchoTuVu23 April 2009
A paid assassin who only sleeps with prostitutes is sent to Spain to carry out an "assignment" and in the process meets a young woman. He bumps off a few victims but he's such a pro the viewer doesn't see much, if any, violence. This isn't a violent picture, though the ending will have you squirming a little as he drives a car load of people along a windy mountain road, seemingly contemplating whether to kill them all, as they beg him to slow down. James Coburn is excellent in the part, a combination womanizer/contract killer who seemingly doesn't have either the time or inclination to get involved, a classic casually immoral role in which he has an ongoing professional relationship with a prostitute played by Karen Black and later meets another sex professional in Belgium. It's almost too bad that Lee Remick's character interrupts this life of his, but she does bring out a more human and sympathetic side that confounds his supervisor, in a great part for Burgess Meredith.
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Very special movie
chazzz9 August 2003
This is a very special movie. Lee Remick's performance alone is worth the effort. There is a smart and rather deep undertone to the film. Some people might be put off by the unabashed, intellectual, writerly approach, but if you accept the style and go with the story, it is a great ride. The picture has pretty much vanished, but it's well worth seeking out.
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He then saw the Light. And it was GOOD!
sol4 October 2005
**SPOILERS** Should have been titled "Redemption of a Hit Man" the movie "Hard Contract" is really a good film that's just a bit over philosophical in it's message but still well worth watching. Super-cool CIA assassin John Cunningham, James Coburn, gets to see the light but it takes John to go almost halfway through the movie for him to finally see it.

Being the #1 killer for his country John has nerves of steel and ice-water in his veins for blood with absolutely no feelings at all for those that he does in. Just give him a name and location, plus a hefty fee, and that's all he needs to be motivated to kill someone.

On election day John ices a victim in a movie house votes in the local election and spends the rest of the afternoon with a hooker Ellen, Karen Black, to work off his excess energy that John has a lot of. The next day John goes to see his controller or boss a CIA man who uses his job, a physics college professor, as a cover James Ramsey, Burgess Meredith.

This is the big one or hard contract as Ramesy calls it. The hit that can put John in the money and have him retire from the business of contract killing for good. Three hits in three cities in Spain and Belgium with the last victim being revealed to John after the first two hits and he's home free.

Going to Spain to get the job, or jobs, done John runs into a number of people and incidents that changes his life forever. And after those experiences he'll never as much hit kill or murder anyone again! Not even Adolf Hitler if he were still alive and John was given a contract on him by the CIA!

Running into American tourist and jet setter Sheila Mecalfe, Lee Remick, who's also a part-time hooker on the side and her goofy and naive but good hearted friend socialite Adrianne, Lilli Palmer, John learns that killing isn't right. John also learns that being at peace with the world and himself as well is what it's really all about. By the time the movie ends John throws away his weapons of death and destruction his job as a CIA hit-man and his unemotional detachment to the human race and becomes a true pacifist and lover of man and womankind alike!

Without going into all the details of what happened to John, to open up his eyes to what's good in the world, you have to see the film for yourself to really appreciate it. John has a revelation that's truly a miracle. The type that you find in the Holy Bible. John, or later Saint John, isn't that quickly converted to a good, or non-violent, life. He does knock off the first two persons that he was told to do in by his boss Ramsey. Later as the truth about the saying "Love thy Neighbor as Theyself" slowly takes hold over him John just can't bring himself to knock off the third person former top CIA hit-man Michael Carson, Sterling Hayden, or anyone else for that matter.

Carson, like his soul-mate Sheila, let's John in to what's good and what's bad and good, as Carson tells him, is far far better in fact there's no comparison what's so ever! Carson a more vicious and effective hit-man in his heyday then even John is now has become so passive he looks like he converted to become a ultra non-violent Quaker of Amish! A person who wouldn't even defend himself or his family even if his or their lives were in danger! There's one thing about being a peaceful and non-violent person but that's going a little bit too far!

At the end of the movie even the blood thirsty and murderous Ramsey, who's obsessed with killing, saw the light. Ramsey flew to Spain to first save John for the insanity that overtook him. A paid government assassin who doesn't want to kill anyone what kind of CIA hit-man is John anyway! Then not only does Ramsey become as big a pacifist as John but also falls in love with the daffy and zany Adrianne! In the end we see both John and Sheila and Ramsey and Adrianne romping in the grass, as the movie "Hard Conract" ends.

Everyone in the film only wants the best things, living in peace with their fellow man, out of life instead of the worst,taking one's life, which is all that John and Ramsey knew about and practiced. That was until they saw and experienced the truth: Which is that it's better to live in peace then to kill each other. And it was that truth that finally set them free, from a life of selfishness destruction misery and death, forever.
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American hit-man finds love in Spain; nothing if not bizarre...
moonspinner5519 February 2008
Hired American assassin (with a predilection for prostitutes but an aversion to kissing--or, indeed, feeling anything) gets a new assignment: kill three men for one client, all in Europe. Once there, he meets a chatty jet-setter who works steadily to break down his walls, though getting to know her and her wealthy friends means becoming sociable with one of his targets. Modern-day story, an original from writer S. Lee Pogostin (who also directed), has plush production, beautiful cinematography by Jack Hildyard and lovely scoring by Alex North, but it cannot manage an even balance between drama, romance, intrigue and travelogue. Pogostin enjoys 'deep,' prattling conversations about the meaning of life, but his metaphor-heavy narrative (with political and fascist undertones and finger-pointing at the media for making us all immune to the horrors of violence) just isn't gripping. The scene transitions often overlap in a lazy, dream-like fashion, and the dazed performers are equally as narcotizing. Not a good vehicle for star James Coburn, who weighs in once in a while with a villainous, mischievous smile but otherwise seems at half-mast. Lee Remick plays his love-interest, Sterling Hayden is a bearded mystery man, Burgess Meredith is Coburn's boss, and a young Karen Black turns up as a hooker who loves to say "I love you." Curious, but memorable only because it is so blatantly odd. *1/2 from ****
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nutsy27 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
James Coburn, Burgess Meredith, Lee Remick, Sterling Hayden, and Patrick Magee are all good actors, and they all have instances of brilliance in HARD CONTRACT, but the film is not worthy of them. First time director S. Lee Pogostin has a few good ideas, but he makes too many beginner's mistakes for the material to succeed. Coburn plays a hitman working for Meredith, hired for a job he's not sure he can do. His target is Sterling Hayden, who had once been a contract killer himself, and they share a wonderful scene in which he tries to convince Coburn to quit. It's a good scene, well written and well acted, but it has the mark of an unexperienced film maker. There is another good scene in which Meredith moves in on one of the target's relatives and discusses modern violence in front of a Goya painting. A big part of the problem is the film's conclusion (SPOILER) in which they say that "murder is obsolete." This is supposed to be good enough for the audience and Coburn and Remick run off romanticaly into the bushes. What a disappointment! This movie didn't do half the things it could have done. Lee Remick is underused as the love interest, and Magee doesn't even have any lines. Should have been better.
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Much Ado About Nothing
hondo55119 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I remember 1969. I graduated from high school, moved on to college, and was introduced to love, both emotional and physical, by an extremely charming and voracious blonde in my homeroom. I don't remember this movie being around at all! If I had taken that blonde to a regular theater rather than a drive-in and paid to see it back then, I would have felt cheated. But today I was introduced to it on AMC, and being all these years older now, found much to enjoy, even if it left me wanting something more at the end.

This is the story of a lone hit-man, considered the best in his field, who travels to Europe for a multiple hit job that includes his predecessor, and meets an American woman who makes him question his life, his job, his very existence. Watching this group of fine actors and actresses, most of whom are now dead, reminded me of a time that seemed somehow cleaner and more innocent and more promising than today. James Coburn as the hit man was at his zenith in looks and charm, and it was as if he were playing a serious version of Derek Flint. Lee Remick, one of Hollywood's three most beautiful women which includes Grace Kelly and Rhonda Fleming, was as lovely as ever and a joy to watch here, especially in her peach bra and flowered panties as she masquerades as a hooker! Burgess Meredith was as mischievously entertaining as ever, and Lilli Palmer was as flawlessly charming in this role as any of her others. Karen Black, a year before Easy Rider and a couple of years or so before Five Easy Pieces, appears as a hooker early on and steals the camera's attention in spite of taking off her clothes. And finally, Sterling Hayden, an actor I've seen often but with whom I've never been impressed, gives perhaps the most endearingly natural performance of his career as the "retired" assassin. The actors are simply marvelous, the overlapping dialog as scenes change quite interesting, and the scenery is almost as beautiful as Lee Remick. However, somewhere along the way, this movie loses its direction.

As Leonard Maltin says in his review of this film, it's more about making a statement than telling an exciting or moving story, and though on an intellectual level I can appreciate a movie like that, this one seems to blow it at the end. Perhaps it's the casting of James Coburn. After watching two Derek Flint movies time and time again over the years, I kept waiting for him to flash his teeth and deliver one-liners. He dispatches one of his victims during a riot, and while most of it is off screen, you can't help picturing in your mind how Derek Flint might have done it and laughing just a little when the deed is done. When you finally get around to taking the film seriously, it starts to have an updated tragic feel reminiscent of Alan Ladd's This Gun For Hire. It seems to have only one way to go. Burgess Meredith tells Coburn that if he doesn't complete his assignment he(Meredith) will have to assign someone to kill the other targets and Coburn. In the serious world of killers, kill or be killed, there really is no room for choice. Coburn fails the test, reality is ignored, and the movie fizzles out like a bad firecracker.

I felt cheated at the end, the actors and the audience deserved better, but I will go back and watch this film again at least one more time if for no other reason than to watch these marvelous actors and actresses work at their craft and remember a brighter and more promising time in my youth. Besides, where else can you go to see a young Karen Black take off her clothes and a radiantly beautiful Lee Remick cavort around in her underwear!
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dougdoepke28 July 2013
A professional hit-man is sent on a mission to Europe, but gets involved with a bubbly sexpot despite his strict code of self-discipline.

Disappointing melodrama that doesn't come off despite a sterling cast. There's a delightfully sexy Remick, a charmingly continental Palmer, a mysteriously wacky Meredith, and an imposingly sinister Hayden. Plus, starring in the central role, a wordlessly stone-faced Coburn. But despite this line-up, the screenplay is both over-long and needlessly elusive.

The key to the murky story, I'm guessing, is that the movie was made in the late 60's, during the 'Make love, not war' period. What writer-director Pogostin appears aiming at is a movie that applies the motto to a professional killer, of all things. At least, this is the narrative's trajectory even though the details are too often elusive. Much of the obscure philosophical palaver appears to concern just how wrong professional hits are in an era of mass political killing. It also serves, I think, to soften Cunningham's going unpunished despite his bloody record. Note too, how little attention is given to Cunningham's two professional hits, as if they're merely incidental to the overall story.

Whatever the narrative shortcomings, we get a pretty good travelogue of Western Europe as background. In fact, it appears Pogostin never shot in the same spot twice, which means the camera jumps around a lot adding to the feeling of a disjointed narrative. One way or the other, the movie's amounts to a disappointment given the talent involved. My advice is to catch up with a tight little b&w gem from 1958, Murder by Contract, which shows how the material should be done.
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classic tale of playing the game
star-child6917 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
i love that the movies of the late 60's and early 70's have such an innocence about them in terms of relationships - that anything physical is implied. this is a classic tale of love taming the hardest heart and stirring emotion where it appears none ever existed. john cunningham is all about control and sheila has absolutely no control - talk about opposites attracting. the chasing game is a great take on the girl finds/gets/loses/keeps man scenario. especially at the end when he takes her hand to ask if they want to make a run for it. fascinating story of how the minds work across the generations and almost detached discussion of degrees of morality. it is a super example of movies of this era - and it's my favourite james coburn movie.
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A violent film without violence (Spoilers)
elliotjames26 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
What's unique about the crime film Hard Contract is that it totally swims against the waves in so many ways including the climax which becomes this trippy-dippy-hippie all-you-need-is-love ending with no casualties, like one of those wacky, surrealistic, Brit comedies of the 1960s.

It's a hit-man film without any violence or weapons or blood and a great many pages of dialogue about the nature of violence. How many Hollywood films do this? People watch hit-man films to see murder and car chases, not to see people talk (unless they're Quentin Tarantino fans which is why QT adds those explosions of insane violence after his talk sessions).

James Coburn and Robert Culp were two of the most ultra-cool actors of that time; not rebels but showing the streak of counter-cultural and anti-hero/anti-establishment behavior that Steve McQueen had. The detached, seemingly relaxed, self-confident Coburn fit his Cunningham character,a killer and emotionless sex-machine only banging hookers, like a well-fitted suit. Lee Remick brings her own brand of cool sex- appeal--not brittle or icy but somewhere hovering near that. This might be her most physically sexual role.

As the jaded, man-eating divorcée traveling with her friend, the attractive middle-aged Lili Palmer as a forerunner of what's called a cougar today, Remick is able to just use facial expressions to make clear that Coburn has given her the first orgasm of her life. In return, her beauty and her spirit make him fall in love with her and unable to function again with prostitutes, the only women in his life before meeting her. Both of these hot yet cool women travel with two male companions, ex-Nazi and now pacifist Patrick Magee (not well-utilized here) and elderly Claude Dauphin, presumably a former gigolo now playing Palmer's non-sexual escort.

Coburn leaves a man inexplicably dead in a movie theater showing a documentary about African orphans, he pushes a suitcase out of an airplane, presumably with victim #1 or his body parts inside, and there's a long shot of victim #2 falling out a window. Coburn glowers at his victims as he watches them and it appears that he kills weaponless, with his hands.

If this film were made today by the usual suspects as either big-budget or cable-junk, Coburn would kill Meredith, Remick would turn out to be a surprise hit-woman and kill Coburn, or Hayden and Coburn would try to kill each other in a final stand-off. Sorry, no dice. There's one moment that makes you think he'll kill the entire cast by driving a stretch limo with all the characters off a cliff. The film bizarrely ends with Palmer and Meredith falling in love and riding off in a donkey cart and Remick and Coburn making passionate love on the outskirts of a gypsy camp, turning the genre completely on its head. Pacifism wins as Coburn renounces murder for dollars in favor of love and ultimate sex with a gorgeous millionairess. Happily ever after? The closing iris shot (a common editing effect in silent films), like a telescopic rifle sight, on the couples' heads is yet another ambiguous touch. Will another hit- man come for him now that he has quit?

It's never clear who Coburn is killing for. His boss Meredith seems to be working for a US spy agency, not organized crime. This is never made clear like most of the main points in the story or what the victims did to be targeted. In the late 60s and early 70s, Mafia types were often depicted as Anglo-Saxons (Point Blank for example), not the usual accented Costa Nostra types. From some of the ambiguous dialog, they seem to be connected to the CIA or some other agency.

I loved the Flint films (and liked The President's Analyst, rumored to be based on a third Derek Flint script) but when it came to many of Coburn's other films, Duffy, The Carey Treatment, Dead Heat On A Merry Go-Round, The Internecine Project, Waterhole #3, Last of the Mobile Hot Shots, Harry In Your Pocket, and other not so compelling titles, I've always had a difficult time sitting still for them. It took me years to watch Hard Contract and I had it recorded on my drive for months before I actually watched it in one sitting last week. Now that I have, I'm sorry I waited so long.
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Hit man hits bottom
mike dewey6 March 2013
This is by no means a suspenseful edge of your seat offering, but it is somewhat enjoyable due to the film locations and the soul searching, quasi-existential dialog that seems to question morality, or lack thereof, in so many shapes and forms. To hit or not to hit, (another human being, that is!), is one of our tiring assassin's (James Coburn) looming questions. So much for hitting others for the so called good of freedom and democracy; our lead character is finding in himself an evolution of kindness and tenderness, brought upon in no small manner by the vivacious femme fatale (Lee Remick) who slowly but surely brings into focus things our lead character has ignored all too often during the course of his existence.

The plot works its way to a mainly Mediterranean and European base of operations and the entire cast seems to have fun in throwing their metaphorical two cents worth of philosophical rambling. Lili Palmer, Burgess Meredith and Sterling Hayden provide the best lines of the supporting crew and all provide our lead actor with plenty of set-up lines for his consumption and subsequent reaction.

Not a great movie, but a fun glimpse into a sample of the film making mode of the latter 60's. In short, a nice hour and forty-five minute escapist period piece, indeed!!
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Murder is Obsolete, but Great Acting isn't
drjgardner27 January 2017
If you like hit man films, this one is not for you. But if you want to see some fine acting, there is a scene near the end of this film between James Coburn and Sterling Hayden which is absolutely superb. Coburn is the young hit-man (he's 41) and Hayden is the retired hit-man who has given up killing (he's 53 at the time).

Other than this, it's a pretty ordinary film and is less a hit-man film than it is an existential film

My favorite hit-man films are Leon: The Professional 1994, Pulp Fiction 1994, In Bruges 2008, La Femme Nikita 1990, The Killers 1964, This Gun for Hire 1942, The Long kiss goodnight 1996, The Bourne Identity (2202, Supremacy (2004), Ultimatum 2007, Kill Bill 2003. 2004, Gross Pointe Blank 1997, Hit-man 2007, Memory of a Killer (2003), Collateral 2004, and Colombiana 2011
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do not see this movie
stormhappy10610 March 2013
It's hard to imagine a more boring movie when the subject is about an American hit man in Europe--Many films in the past have conveyed the mystery,tension,foreboding,and excitement of this subject such as THE MECHANIC and THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS and SABOTAGE, to name a few. but HARD CONTRACT you will find a complete waste of time. and the cast here can hardly make a dent with turgid, nonsensical script--the film's box office failure is hardly surprising--James Coburn had mediocre success after the FLINT films, doing a wide variety of fil ms that mostly involved westerns but this film was probably his lowest point professionally. The 2 stars that I gave this film was for the Euro locales,such as they were. In short, do not see this film unless you need something to put you to sleep.
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ah yes...Lee Remick
ddh4421 February 2008
The beauty of Lee Remick. The eating of the candy bars in the theater while the starving African orphans are on screen. James Coburn in North Africa ( and it is not 'Duffy '). He voted Rebulican! I liked this film.

I'm done but "they" want more lines. I do wish I knew who was responsible for all of the many perfect angles and close-ups of Ms. Remick. She really was filmed as perfectly as Bugess suggested 'a fantasy from his youth' ( who did misbehave!)

I saw some of the same flaws others mentioned, however I did see this film at the theater and remember enjoying it then.I have also seen in on TV in pan and scan form. I still enjoyed it.
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A Heterodrama
Nelson Shreve16 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I was interested in this story right off, what with James Coburn having a series of women his own way, and with them "consenting" despite their own natural tendencies, even among prostitutes. Switch to Lee Remick, who's been hobnobbing (no pun intended) among the elites for recreation, but has become disenchanted of late with that whole scene. The concierge of the hotel she's been playing in informs her that a strange new guest is seeking the services of a prostitute. This was an odd and quaint concept, considering how everybody was doing everybody else there for free, so it must be because he was American. On a lark Lee decides to pose as the desired prostitute. Watching the changes she has to go through as Coburn begins telling her how he wants it distinguishes this movie from any others in the genre. And from there an obvious romance begins which satisfies both of their needs and they run away from their pasts in an ancient native ritual and they live happily ever after. There are some heavy insights into the minds of cold blooded hit men and some intriguing political concepts (Burgess Merredith says his organization is researching which religion will best control the most people), but I see this as an extraordinary heterodrama, one for serious collectors.
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So Teddibly European
inspectors7130 March 2008
Hard Contract should be viewed as a snapshot of the oh, so sophisticated late sixties, with James Coburn non-acting and Lee Remick be-dazzling their way through a tedious and artsy-fartsy story of a hired killer who develops a conscience.

It took me a month of sitting until my butt hurt and walking away to get through this travesty, a hundred minutes of meaningful looks, Remick parading about in one designer outfit after another, and Sterling Hayden looking like Captain Ahab, with a jutting beard and an ocean of dirt surrounding his Spanish farm.

Hard Contract is indescribably dull, pretentious, and embarrassing.

Much like the late 1960s.
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Hit Man; and Misses
Doctor_Bombay27 January 1999
By 1969, Derek Flint was behind us, but James Coburn was still on top as an action-oriented leading man. Take a script with beautiful foreign locations, make Coburn a naïve-one dimensional hit man, then throw beautiful Lee Remick in as the woman to tame the untamable…and you've got yourself a movie.

For those who love the 60's genre movie, you'll find this one rates. Nice support from Burgess Meredith and Sterling Hayden, but the story tries so hard to be serious that it falls flat. There are much better ones out there.
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G Paltrow is dated
macpet49-121 February 2009
Of course the 60s seem dated because everything current is retro. Take Gwenyth P. ,for instance, always looking like copies of stars from other eras: Grace Kelly, Sandra Dee, etc. Her mother was possibly worse, not a very good actress--too actressy, too aware of herself. Madonna made a career out of reinventing herself as people from other eras. She's currently trying to reinvent the 80s, a time when she was at her most influential. The world, unfortunately, has become a tired old place full of nasty queens who are bored all of the time. Where next for Hollywood? They've no place to go but mimicking reality TV which also boring. The only thing that is truly original anymore is the news and it is depressing because it reminds all of us how low humanity has sunk. Personally, I don't mind being taken back to a less corrupt time. What can one expect from a business that has been involved in criminal activity it's whole life? Shall we talk about Jack Valenti? Now he was true Hollywood royalty and quite a wacko.
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I hate 60's films like this
gpaltrow200123 May 2008
So many 60's era films are dated. They have laughable hair, clothes, and set lighting. The acting chews the scenery, the music is maudlin, and the writing is unintentionally funny. 'Hard Contract' is all of these things. The story of a killer who sees the light is drawn out, tedious, ponderous, and not believable. The story has an unsatisfying ending. I only gave it a couple of stars because Lee Remick's character is disgustingly sexy, and I found myself staring at her. By the way, what DOES a GOOD 60's era film look like? How about 'In The Heat of the Night'? That was raw and gritty and believable. Or how about 'The Sound of Music', which makes no claim to be anything other than frivolous fun, and does so? This trite junk, however, grates and makes me feel old, and the film seems even older.
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