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This Gun for Hire

This Gun for Hire

4.0 4
Director: Frank Tuttle

Cast: Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar

Frank Tuttle's This Gun for Hire (1942) has had a mixed history in high-end video. In its first laserdisc incarnation in the mid-1980's from Image Entertainment, the movie looked pale and out-of-focus, while the accompanying trailer looked sharp and bright. A later laserdisc from seven or eight years later was better produced, but not nearly as visible,


Frank Tuttle's This Gun for Hire (1942) has had a mixed history in high-end video. In its first laserdisc incarnation in the mid-1980's from Image Entertainment, the movie looked pale and out-of-focus, while the accompanying trailer looked sharp and bright. A later laserdisc from seven or eight years later was better produced, but not nearly as visible, appearing just as modern titles were starting to overwhelm the release schedule. This DVD makes up for all of it, apart from the absence of a trailer. The movie, transferred full-frame (1.33:1), looks about as good as it ever has, and the sound is mastered at a fairly high volume. There is no annotation or any other indication of the movie's importance in the history of film noir, which is sort of a pity, as it is one movie that could have justified a commentary track based on its origins in a Graham Greene novel and its importance in the careers of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake (and, for that matter, Laird Cregar). It's not as though Universal doesn't do that sort of thing on movies which are no more important than this one. The 18 chapters are more than adequate to outline the movie and highlight the key scenes. The disc opens to the simple menu automatically on startup.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Adapted from the Graham Greene novel by W.R. Burnett and Albert Maltz, This Gun for Hire (1942) introduced the archetypal film noir coupling of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in an early noir story of murder and deception-with a little war-time patriotism added to soften the harshness. In his star-making performance, Ladd's cat-loving contract killer Raven is icily amoral in his work, utterly emotionless except when angered. Lake's alluring nightclub singer-turned-spy Ellen is his steely, impassive match, even when she manages to momentarily appeal to his well-hidden better nature in order to foil a plan to sell chemical secrets to the enemy. Robert Preston's good cop may wind up getting Ellen, but it is Ladd who proves Lake's coolly charismatic onscreen equal. Shot with shadowy style by John F. Seitz, enhancing the underlying threat of corruption and violence, This Gun for Hire became a box office success, helping to set the standard for noir along with The Maltese Falcon (1941); Ladd and Lake sustained their popularity as the ultimate hard-boiled noir duo in The Glass Key (1942) and The Blue Dahlia (1946). Remade twice, as the feature Short Cut to Hell in 1957 and for TV in 1991.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; [None specified]

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Veronica Lake Ellen Graham
Robert Preston Michael Crane
Laird Cregar Willard Gates
Alan Ladd Philip Raven
Tully Marshall Alvin Brewster
Mikhail Rasumny Sluky
Marc Lawrence Tommy
Pamela Blake Annie
Harry Shannon Steve Finnerty
Frank Ferguson Albert Baker
Bernadene Hayes Baker's Secretary
James Farley Night Watchman
Charles Arnt Will Gates
Don Barclay Piano Player
Clem Bevans Old Timer
Karin [Katharine] Booth Waitress
William Cabanne Laundry Truck Driver
Eddy Chandler Foreman
Chester Clute Mr. Stewart
Mary Davenport Salesgirl
Yvonne De Carlo Show Girl
Pedro de Cordoba Steve Finnerty
Earle Dewey Mr. Collins
Virginia Farmer Woman in Shop
Patricia Farr Ruby
Lynda Grey Gates' Secretary
Harry Hayden Restaurant Manager
Olin Howland Blair Fletcher
Roger Imhof Senator Burnett
Victor Kilian Brewster's Secretary
Victor Laplace Dancer
Louise LaPlanche Dancer
Charles Moore Dining Car Waiter
Dickie Moore Young Raven in Cut Dream Sequence
Frances Morris Receptionist
Pat O'Malley Conductor
Sarah Padden Mrs. Mason
Cyril Ring Waiter
Dick Rush Lt. Clark
Tim Ryan Guard
John Sheehan Keever
Edwin Stanley Police Captain
Hermine Sterler Raven's Aunt
Elliott Sullivan Officer Glennon
Phil Tead Machinist
Emmett Vogan Charlie
Fred Walburn Walt
Richard Webb Young Man
Charles Wilson Police Captain
Robert Winkler Jimmie

Technical Credits
Frank Tuttle Director
Richard Blumenthal Producer
W.R. Burnett Screenwriter
David Buttolph Score Composer
Hans Dreier Art Director
Frank Loesser Songwriter
Albert Maltz Screenwriter
Archie Marshek Editor
Jacques Press Songwriter
John F. Seitz Cinematographer
Graham Greene Source Author

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Cheapskate (Main Titles) [3:48]
2. Two for One [3:49]
3. Double Crossed [5:06]
4. Clever and Attractive [5:42]
5. My Guy [4:12]
6. Hostage Situation [4:09]
7. Train Ride to L.A. [4:04]
8. Got a Job to Do [6:02]
9. The Mermaid Club [4:31]
10. All Tied Up [5:04]
11. Do What I Tell You [4:52]
12. On the Run [6:33]
13. Bottled Up [4:35]
14. Crazy Dreams [4:47]
15. False Promises [5:18]
16. Escaped [4:43]
17. The Final Job [3:18]
18. End Titles [:35]

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This Gun for Hire 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿This Gun For Hire¿ is a watered down, glammed up version of Graham Greene¿s novel A Gun for Sale. It represents the first of four cinematic outings that teamed sultry Veronica Lake with the stoically handsome Alan Ladd, a potent cocktail of personalities that proved to be much in demand over the next decade. Perhaps a tad heavy on sentimentality than most film noirs, the plot concerns Philip Raven¿s (Ladd) obsession with Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) a nightclub dancer with a rough and rumble cop boyfriend, Michael Crane (Robert Preston). Ellen is supposed to be working on exposing Alvin Brewster (Tully Marshall), a chemical company CEO who sold poisonous gas to the Japanese. But an odd and Freudian driven relationship surfaces between Ellen and Raven when she senses his childhood pain and angst. Ellen becomes Raven¿s willing captive, in the process transcending his nightmares and making him more human. The very first scene in this film is so incredibly chilling it begs special mention. After having been double crossed by ne¿er-do-well, Williard Gates (Laird Cregar), Raven (Ladd) contemplates killing an innocent little girl who has seen him. Even though the resulting decision is typical ¿golden age¿ morality, Ladd makes one believe, if only for a moment, that such cold blooded silencing might be possible. Once again, 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 as well 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. There are no extras on this disc. Nevertheless, it is a good disc to add to your library of classic cinema.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know where these 'all movie' reviews originate, but they're sloppy. I've looked at two and both have inaccuracies. In this case, This Gun for Hire, Ellen Graham's policeman boyfriend is not who convinces her to help nail Gates. In fact, she specifically is told to keep him in the dark about it by the U.S. Senator with whom she meets in a cab and who is the person who actually sets up the sting. In any case, a great Veronica Lake film, second only to The Glass Key. Her cabaret act is endearingly inept, but she's such a hottie that, for me at least, it added to her charm. Can't wait for the DVD to be released this summer.