This Gun for Hire (Universal Noir Collection)
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One of Hollywood's classic hard-boiled thrillers and a favorite of suspense film lovers. The picture marked the first hit pairing of tough guy Alan Ladd, in the role that made him an instant star, and sultry blonde bombshell Veronica Lake. Adapted from a novel by Graham Greene, it's the hard-edged story of love, power and betrayal set in the seamy underworld of the 1940's. Raven (Alan Ladd) is a cold-blooded professional killer who's been double-crossed by his client. Ellen (Veronica Lake) is a beautiful nightclub singer who's spying on her corrupt boss. Lt. Michael Crane (Robert Preston) is a dedicated cop who wants Ellen's love and Raven's capture. The tension mounts and before the case is wrapped up, someone will pay with his life.
Top Customer Reviews
Cregar died at the tender age of 30, two years after THIS GUN FOR HIRE was released. For old movie fans unfamiliar with him, he was a combination of a bulked up Vincent Price and Sydney Greenstreet with a little more bounce in his step.
As delightful as Cregar is, discussion of THIS GUN FOR HIRE starts and stops with Alan Ladd, who catapulted to stardom with his portrayal of the cold-blooded killer Raven. The emblematic scene occurs early on, when the hired Ladd enters an apartment building to fulfill his end of the contract. He meets a young girl wearing leg braces as he walks up the stairs. What occurs next, and continues on until he leaves the building, is simply a brilliant bit of minimalist screen acting. Raven's face is an expressionless, cold-blooded, inscrutable mask. Ladd plays the sequence almost solely with his eyes. They dart menacingly from the crippled girl to the apartment door, assessing the risks, flashing for a split second before smoldering to a colder temperature. It's a justifiably famous scene, one of the best tough guy sequences ever, a star maker.
The plot bends and twists just enough to throw Ladd and Lake together for most of the last half of the movie. She a hostage with a secret or two, he obsessed with getting back at Cregar.Read more ›
THE TRANSFER: Universal's DVD transfer is remarkably solid and clean. The gray scale is very well balanced with deep solid blacks and whites that are almost pristine. There's a hint film grain and some age related artifacts. Also, some edge enhancement and pixelization occur, but nothing that will distract from a visual presentation that is a considerable improvement over previously issued VHS tapes. The audio is mono and very well represented.
BOTTOM LINE: There are no extras on this disc. Nevertheless, it is a good disc to add to your library of classic cinema.
I found this movie rather enjoyable, it is easy to see why Ladd and Lake were made into a screen team. They are supported by Laird Cregar as a plotting spy with no stomach for violence and Robert Preston as Veronica Lake's cop boyfriend. Alan Ladd steals the show as Raven, a killer for hire who really only likes cats. (as a cat lover, I was automatically more sympathetic to him) Cregar's Gates betrayed him to the cops and now he wants revenge.
Raven and Lake's Ellen, a nightclub magician, cross paths throughout the movie and she begins to strip down his tough guy veneer to reveal an abused childhood. Armed with her brains and a considerable amount of flag waving, Ellen tries to persuade Raven to give up his vengeance and uncover an Axis plot.
Ladd, Lake and Cregar are all marvelous but the usually wonderful Preston (best known for his smooth con-man in Music Man) isn't given much to work with and his cop character feels flat especially next to Raven.
This movie is really a must-see for any fan of 40's films and even with its flaws (I also found the final image to be annoying and totally against Lake's independant character), it is still a pleasant way to pass an evening.
If the plot sounds convoluted, it is. That's just the set-up. Every character is either ignorant or mistaken about the others' role in this web of treachery. Ellen is privy to the most information, but she can't tell anyone. Veronica Lake has a lot of charisma, even if Ellen's role is convoluted. Ellen is a different thing to every person in the film, to the extent that the audience has to think at times to keep it all straight. It's interesting that she plays the role of a femme fatale to the assassin Raven, but her actions are selfless and righteous. Ellen isn't an ambitious seductress; she's a steadfast, practical woman who loves her boyfriend, her country, and wants a family.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie starts out real strong for the first hour. The last 20 minutes it slows down a bit. The ending was what I would describe as a Hollywood ending. Read morePublished 12 days ago by book lover
This is an oldie... only seen bits and pieces of this movie... want to see it in it's entirety.Published 24 days ago by DW
This Gun for Hire, 1942 film
An alarm wakes a man; he opens an envelope that provides instructions for his next assignment. He keeps a black cat with white socks. Read more
Cold-blooded killer of women and children? This wasn't a great story for Alan Ladd...he should have passed on this one.Published 1 month ago by D. Smith
Zowie! I am a lifelong old movie buff but somehow missed this one until now. Can see why Alan Ladd took off like he did from here. And of course, Laird Cregar to boot! Read morePublished 1 month ago by JoAnn Spears
Early Ladd when he played bad guys. He was a very good actor, PACPublished 1 month ago by Pablo A Calvan
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