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This Gun for Hire (1942) is a crime drama film noir, directed by Frank Tuttle and based on the novel A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene. The drama features Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, Alan Ladd, among others.

Plot

A hit man, called Raven (Ladd), is double-crossed by nightclub owner Willard Gates (Cregar) who acts as a middleman for a traitorous industrialist, the president of Nitro Chemical, Alvin Brewster (Tully Marshall).

Traveling to Los Angeles to kill his way to the top of his betrayers, Raven meets up with Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) a nightclub magician and singer.

Graham's been enlisted by a senator to use Gates to find out who is making deals to manufacture poison gas for the Japanese. Ellen's fiancé Lt. Michael Crane (Robert Preston) tries as best he can to keep up, tracking Raven while wondering if his girlfriend has been kidnapped or is a willing accomplice. Yvonne De Carlo also has a small role.

Cast



Background

When the film was first released, Ladd received fourth billing. Because of fan reaction and critical praise, the film made Alad Ladd a movie star.

The producers used the following tagline when marketing the film:
"He's dynamite with a gun or a girl."


Critical reception

Cregar and Ladd.
Critic Bosley Crowther noticed the debut of actor Alan Ladd, and gave the drama a positive review. He wrote, "One shudders to think of the career which Paramount must have in mind for Alan Ladd, a new actor, after witnessing the young gentleman's debut as a leading player in that studio's This Gun for Hire...Obviously, they have tagged him to be the toughest monkey loose on the screen. For not since Jimmy Cagney massaged Mae Clarke's face with a grapefruit has a grim desperado gunned his way into cinema ranks with such violence as does Mr. Ladd in this fast and exciting melodrama...Melodrama, straight and vicious—that's what this picture is. But it is a good cut above the average, both in its writing and its tensile quality. Frank Tuttle, the director, has paced it with morbid prowling and headlong bursts, and has kept his actors within fairly reasonable bounds."

The staff at Variety magazine was critical of the film, writing, "The idea of presenting Veronica Lake as the heroine of an exciting melodrama has its merits. But the material selected is distinctly unsuited to her. It is a very involved yarn by Graham Greene which deals with international intrigue and treason, having to do with the sale of a secret chemical formula to the Japanese...Other players in the film had difficult assignment trying to give some credence to an improbable story. Robert Preston plays a policeman, who is too easily outwitted to deserve Lake in the end. Laird Cregar is an interesting heavy, and Tully Marshall a reprobate of the worst kind."

In 2004, "DVD Savant" reviewer Glenn Erickson wrote that he wasn't impressed by the glamorous Veronica Lake, but thought Ladd was influential in inspiring future action films: "This Paramount picture is what back in the UCLAmarker Cinema School we used to call a seminal film — it formed some of the main ideas in film noir and in later action films, particularly the James Bond franchise."

Adaptations to Other Media

This Gun For Hire was adapted as a radio play on the January 25, 1943 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater and the April 2, 1945 broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater. Alan Ladd reprised his role in both adaptations while Veronica Lake reprised in the latter, but was replaced with Joan Blondell in the former.

See also



References

External links




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