man, you are awesome, but I repeat myself... this sounds like another good one. thanks."This Gun For Hire"- Frank Tuttle-1942
This film is almost 80 years old. It is based on a Graham Green novel published in 1936. Paramount bought the screen rights for $12,000. Tuttle was a studio director. He worked regularly, but his career is devoid of peaks and valleys. W.R. Burnett who co-wrote the screenplay is a major Hollywood figure. His novels often were adapted for the screen beginning with "Little Caesar." He also wrote screenplays; one of the better known is "The Great Escape." Walz, his writing partner, was one of the Hollywood 10; he was blacklisted, He was a committed Communist.
Several commentators criticize the script for its use of remarkable coincidences. They were in Green's book as well. Raven (Allan Ladd) is a professional hitter. He is not one for staging accidents or suicides; he just shoots people at close range. Raven betrays little emotion. He likes cats; he believes they are his luck. In the beginning of the film Raven hits a blackmailer. He had been informed that the individual was alone. He ended up having to kill the girlfriend. Raven meets Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) who pays him $1,000 in counterfeit tens. Raven gave Gates incriminating technical documents, the chemical formula for a new poison gas which is being sold to the Japanese. Pearl Harbor occurred mid-way through the shooting. This is more contrivance than coincidence. Why would you pay your hitter in hot money? If he is caught; he has a story to tell. The police probably wouldn't believe him, but wait the company is already being investigated for trading with the enemy.
Raven sets out after Gates. Gates runs a nightclub in LA. He hires Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) a singing magician as an act for his club. Ellen is the girlfriend of LT. Crane (Robert Preston) who is investigating the marked money. Gates, Raven and Ellen Graham are all on the same train to LA. Raven and Graham are seatmates. Written out like this it sounds hokey. On the screen it works. Lake, Ladd, and Cregar are excellent. Preston is okay. This film made Ladd a star; it is easy to see why. This is one of the very happy accidents produced by the studio system. Highly recommended; this early noir really delivers.