This Gun for Hire (1942)
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In this film, Alan Ladd stars as Phillip Raven, a ruthless professional killer with a long-suppressed streak of decency. After successfully pulling off his latest murder, Raven reports to his boss, effeminate fifth columnist Willard Gates. He collects his $1000 fee, only to discover later that Gates has double-crossed him.
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Critic Reviews for This Gun for Hire
The film's thrilling bullet-laden finale, fast pace and lovely black-and-white photography more than makes up for some of the overt misogyny that was common in this genre and era.
Catapulted Alan Ladd to stardom, established Ladd and Veronica Lake as a screen team and is just plain as close to a perfect representation of film noir as you're likely to get.
Well acted crime melodrama that catapulted Alan Ladd to major stardom.
Noir favorite; Ladd and Lake are a gangbusters team.
For good reason it made Alan Ladd a star.
A fairly lackluster reading of Greene's novel.
Enjoyable, although the plot is a little incredible and Ladd isn't the most charming leading man in the world.
Audience Reviews for This Gun for Hire
A killer for hire hunts down the men who double crossed him in the company of a beautiful night club singer with the police in hot pursuit. This Gun For Hire was a BIG disappointment for me. Touted as a Film Noir classic, it really seemed to me to be a trashy, crowd pleasing cash in rather than the real thing. In the win column, Alan Ladd is pretty good as the killer, it's nicely shot and I'll never resent having to watch Veronica Lake do pretty much anything. On the down side, she looks about as comfortable as a prospector being ordered to dance by a gun toting Jack Palance when doing her faintly embarrassing magic/musical numbers and the plot is just a load of ludicrous contrivances punctuated with piss weak dialogue and hammy performances. But the worst offender for me was Frank Tuttle who directs what should be a gritty crime drama like a cheesy haunted house B-movie. Maybe worth it for completists, but there are much better examples of Noir out there and I frankly don't understand why this film has the reputation it enjoys.More
Alan Ladd is a patriotic hit man with a soft spot for cats in this war era film noir classic. A layered storyline emphasizes different levels of good and evil by pitting a killer against a spineless opportunist who works for a Japanese sympathizer who is pursued by a senator who recruits a beautiful magician to gather information, not knowing that she's in love with a cop who is on the trail of the killer who has been framed for a robbery by the opportunist under orders of the sympathizer. (Whew!)More
1942 "this gun for hire" would probably be one of the few noir pieces without that strong dose of leftist message of revolt against the us government. on the contrary, it could be patriotic and americanistic when it deflects america's wwii atagonism over jap attack of pearl harbor and let's fight the fascist conspiracy against jap, and even a thug is also summoned for it.
alan ladd plays a routhless thug with a benevolent soft center for cats and children until he meets the night club singer veronica lake who takes a temporal undercover assignment to serve the goverment against saboteurs while ladd is on his way seeking revenge to a former employer who doublecrosses him. melt by lake's guileless ingenue charm, the wounded past of ladd is empathetically revelt, so triggered by fate, these two form a team to rescue us from the clawing hands of foreign conspiracy.
this sort of story could have been made in hitchcockian method but this movie tends to be a one-man show of alan ladd who has enough raw charisma in him to sustain the whole show while veronica lake plays the appropriate match to conjure up some sizzling chemistry. but the movie decides to pair lake with the copper instead of alan ladd the thug. in the last scene, ladd dies of exposing the treason under lake's request, the camera shifts swiftly to lake cowering in the copper's bossom girlishly when it should be lake tearfully gazing the last sight of ladd. come what may, the movie is completely politically correct, the good girl who loves her country should stick to righteous policman instead of getting swooned by the illicit crook despite he's the one who literily saves the nation. but he ain't doing so for the sake of america but for a maternal recognition from a woman who's given some slight warmth of humanity in his whole wretched lonesome life.
veronica lake is never really an actress but effective screen presence due to her beauty and certain favorable attributes she emits on screen, and it works the best with alan ladd, vice versa. and miss lake's wardrobe here is by edith head to render her glorious peek-a-boo bang days.
"this gun for hire" is actually a propaganda noir of wwii, but this doctrine side's been neglected due to the starstruck ecstacy the leads have casted toward the audience. and alfred hitchcock also released "saboteur" in 1942, but the focus of "saboteur" is on germany which is hitchcock's favorite emblem of evil in his spy movies since the vallians have been given fair amount of time to impress the audience as the hero has. but you look upon "this gun for hire", there's no jap occuring in the tense circumstance, and there's no true hero but a murderous assassin who chooses to do mercy for the country at last crucial moment for love/or friendship. there's no explosive confrontation of good and evil but a dubious kind of american anarchistic anti-hero who settle the record right on his own without the patron of sappy governmental bureaucrats.
by comparisons of "this gun for hire" and "saboteur", you could surely discern between the hitchcockian harmony (of moral dualism and genders since man cannot function on his own until a lady joins his league in hitchcockian tales) and the lonewolf-alike americanistic anarchy in the world of fim noir by their speparate intepretations of patriotism.
(does that show americans are more obsessed with chaos rather than harmony?)
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