CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942)

Starring Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird, Cregar and Alan Ladd. Directed by Frank Tuttle. Running time: 80 minutes. Release date: May 13, 1942

Excellent film noir classic about a hitman named Raven (Ladd's break-through film) who after taking out a blackmailer and his girlfriend in San Francisco, realizes he has been set up by his anonymous employer. Now on the run from the police, Raven wants to find out why he was duped and score a little payback. The middle man named Gates (terrific performance by Cregar) who works for the anonymous employer informs police that Raven stole money from the company Gates works, Nitro Chemical. Detective Crane (a young Robert Preston, miles away from Professor Harold Hill of The Music Man) is assigned the case.

Crane's girlfriend, nightclub singer/magician Ellen (a sultry Veronica Lake) winds up meeting Raven on board a train headed to Los Angeles by accident. Raven ends up taking Ellen hostage. He finds out that Ellen also knows Gates, as Gates owns the nightclub where she works. So now Raven starts to play detective to find out what's going on.

With the police in hot pursuit, the pair are trapped at the train yards where Raven shares his hard upbringing that led him to his life as a hitman. She begins to sympathize with him. And as a final gesture, takes his coat and hat to pretend to be him to confuse the police while Raven escapes. He heads to Nitro Chemical to take down the man who set him up.

Man, this is one awesome movie. A perfectly tuned film noir film that just grabs you from the opening credits and doesn't let go. Alan Ladd is terrific as Raven, who is more than just your average gun for hire. His back story explains quite a bit about the life he has led. This is a true star making performance. His first pairing with Lake is really good as their had wonderful chemistry. Lake plies her usual trademark sultry good looks and smoky voice to good effect. And in the quieter moments with Ladd, is quite a revelation. Preston is all gung ho as the detective and Cregar makes a good slimy, sniveling middleman who says he is just following orders. No hard feelings Mr. Raven. Right?..Heck no. You're going down too big man.

This Gun For Hire is excellent entertainment.

1 comment:

Irene Palfy said...

Love this film - especially because of Laird Cregar! I adore that man.. He was so marvellous - so sad that he left this world so young.. poor guy..

And of course I also love Veronica Lake.. also a sad story..

Nevertheless: a great film. Thank you for posting your thoughts about it, Monty!


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