This Gun For Hire (1942)


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 by many 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 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 Film Noir out there and I frankly don’t understand why this film has the reputation it enjoys.



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