This Gun for Hire

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 14

81%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,391

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

81%
Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

Though billed fourth in This Gun For Hire, Alan Ladd was catapulted to stardom in the role of 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 (Laird Cregar). He collects his $1000 fee, only to discover later that Gates has double-crossed him with marked bills. This was done at the behest of Gates' boss, crooked business executive Alvin Bewster (Tully Marshall), who wants no loose ends left around to connect him with a plot to sell poison gas to the Axis. As Raven ducks and dodges the police, detective Michael Crane (Robert Preston) is hot on the trail of Bewster and Gates. Crane talks his girlfriend, nightclub singer-musician Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake), into taking a job at Gates' nightclub. While on the train to the club, Ellen makes the acquaintance of the escaping Raven. Gates boards the train, spots Ellen innocently sitting next to Raven, and assumes that the two are in cahoots. Later, Gates kidnaps Ellen and spirits her away to his mansion, intending to do away with her the first chance he gets. Instead, Raven, still seeking revenge for being set up, bursts into the mansion in search of Gates. Having previously been impressed by Ellen's kindness, he rescues her, though he intends using her as hostage should the police catch up with him. As they hide out together in the rail yards, Ellen and Raven get to know each other. Learning of Raven's miserable, abusive childhood, Ellen tries to chip away his murderous veneer, hoping to reform him. But when the cops arrive, Raven reverts to his instincts, shooting his way out of his hiding place. As Crane escorts Ellen out of harm's way, Raven rushes towards a bloody showdown with Bewster and Gates. Based on Graham Greene's A Gun For Sale, This Gun For Hire was remade in 1958 as Short Cut to Hell, then again under the original title as a 1990 made-for-TV film.

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Cast

Alan Ladd
as Philip Raven
Laird Cregar
as Willard Gates
Veronica Lake
as Ellen Graham
Robert Preston
as Det. Michael Crane
Tully Marshall
as Alvin Brewster
Harry Shannon
as Steve Finnerty
Frank Ferguson
as Albert Baker
Bernadene Hayes
as Baker's Secretary
Jim Farley
as Night Watchman
Vivita Campbell
as Crippled Girl
Roger Imhof
as Sen. Burnett
Victor Kilian
as Brewster's Secretary
Olin Howland
as Blair Fletcher
Emmett Vogan
as Charlie
Chester Clute
as Mr. Stewart
Dickie Moore
as Young Raven in Cut Dream Sequence
Charles Arnt
as Will Gates
Virginia Farmer
as Woman in Shop
Clem Bevans
as Scissor Grinder
Harry Hayden
as Restaurant Manager
Tim Ryan
as Weems
Yvonne De Carlo
as Show Girl
Edwin Stanley
as Police Captain
Pedro de Cordoba
as Steve Finnerty
Phil Tead
as Machinist
Charles R. Moore
as Dining Car Waiter
Pat O'Malley
as Conductor
Sarah Padden
as Mrs. Mason
Richard Webb
as Young Man
Frances Morris
as Receptionist
Cyril Ring
as Waiter
Lora Lee
as Girl in Car
William Cabanne
as Laundry Truck Driver
Charles C. Wilson
as Police Captain
Mary Davenport
as Salesgirl
Earle Dewey
as Mr. Collins
Lynda Grey
as Gates' Secretary
Dick Rush
as Lt. Clark
Elliott Sullivan
as Officer Glennon
Don Barclay
as Piano Player
Hermine Sterler
as Raven's Aunt
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Critic Reviews for This Gun for Hire

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1)

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.

Feb 12, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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.

Oct 29, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Well acted crime melodrama that catapulted Alan Ladd to major stardom.

Jan 20, 2013 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

A great vein of noir tropes, greatly mined

Sep 25, 2009 | Full Review…

Noir favorite; Ladd and Lake are a gangbusters team.

Mar 10, 2006 | Rating: 4/5

For good reason it made Alan Ladd a star.

Oct 25, 2004 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for This Gun for Hire

½

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.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

A good forties film noir.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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!)

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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?)

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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