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Author Topic: Murder By Contract (1958)  (Read 1319 times)
cigar joe
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« on: October 04, 2011, 07:36:20 AM »

Directed by Irving Lerner with Vince Edwards, Phillip Pine and Herschel Bernardi. Here is another example of a film labeled Film Noir that isn't very Noir at all much like "the Big Steal" and "The Lineup". What is it about this film, is it just like "The Line Up" that the characters are all "dark"? Yes there are some darkly lit scenes but but as a percentage of the film not very many especially with the latter 3/4 of it being set in for the most part in sunny California. Was it the influence of small screen TV and the aftermarket that kept it "lighter". I think its a subjective call, what the viewer personally labels it. I'd say like The Lineup its more a crime thriller



Its labeled as a Film Noir on IMDb, it's called a big influence on "Taxi Driver" by Scorsese, but not listed as a Noir in the Film Noir Encyclopedia nor in the chronology of Film Noir in Alain Silver & James Ursini's book "Film Noir".

Scorsese fondly mentions on the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classic DVD  that at the time he and his friends saw it, it was "different" among its peers at the time, so looking at it in that context, I'll give it a pass.

Its got some plot contradictions and gets a bit farfetched at times. Edwards has reservations when he finds out that the contract is on a woman, (he says they are unpredictable, he also has some "woman issues", calling some pigs, not liking lipstick, but has a call girl show up after what he thinks is a successfully fulfilled contract,   etc., etc.) but later he has no problem assassinating a police woman who he thinks in the target but then later when he has his second chance on the target balks.

It has an interesting score reminiscent of "The Third Man" (1949)

Better than "5 Against the House" on the Columbia Set but not by much  6/10


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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2013, 05:17:07 AM »

This is a good movie, although some stuff is weird and "kinda not right" at times, which I guess is the point.

I give it an 8/10

three things I didn't like.
1)the score.
2) the speech the killer gives his two babysitters in the hotel room, how he just kills as a business deal and has no contract: that sort of thing should just be understood; when he gives the whole speech, it ruins it. Le Samourai understands that there is stuff the audience understands without telling us (if anything, IMO Le Samourai went a little TOO far with the silent killer; there is so much silence, it's almost like an active silence, like trying too hard to be silent. But it was a terrific film, and I digress....) Point is that when the killer gives his whole speech how he doesn't give a damn about anyone, that takes away the effect.
3) the ending. firstly, anytime someone (like a cop) gets knocked out, but then wakes up just in time to shoot the bad guy, that's just a dumb cop out (no pun intended) ending. And, the killer chickens out from killing a woman? No, I don't buy it. The ending was dumb.

So, the movie's not perfect. Butl it's damn good. Something weirdly not right. Vince Edwards is very good for this role. The two "babysitters," Phillip Pine and Herschel Bernardi, are a really good team, especially Bernardi, a Yiddish theatre actor from a family of famous Yiddish Theatre actors.
As CJ mentioned, this movie was a big influence on Scorsese. Specifically, the early scene where Edwards is "waiting for the call" was a big influence on Taxi Driver; and the score, which though I mentioned I didn't like, is very famous, and influenced The Departed. The dvd has a 5-minute clip of Scorsese talking about how mcuh he loved this film and what an influence it was on him. (That's the only bonus feature, besides the trailer. And btw, the trailer gives away the whole friggin' movie  Roll Eyes )

I agree with CJ, this isn't much of a noir, certainly not in the visuals. Maybe some of the first few scenes on the East Coast, plus the final scene at night. But from the moment Edwards arrives in LA until the final scene, there is really nothing noir about it.

nevertheless, I'd recommend that all noir fans, or at least all fans of crime movies, see this movie  Afro

« Last Edit: May 25, 2017, 10:15:01 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2017, 10:15:52 PM »

Just saw the dvd for the second time. Good movie. Herschel Bernardi is always great. I wish that guy had done more movies.

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« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2017, 07:02:32 AM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP8zYR3HSeg

I'm not sure I saw this long ago, but if I did now I know why I don't remember it. Amateurish at best, it has a good start (but $500 for a hit was cheap even 60 years ago ) but once in California (a back-projected California too) it is demential. You have all those absurd speeches which substitute for action, with the two fellas taking care of the killer simply obtruding and being there just for filling time. And the little action left it is simply dumb (I won't even get into particulars, idiocy being so apparent). the "music" is annoying, the main theme being a re-working of Caravan. Cheap. 4/10

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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2017, 07:45:49 AM »

Herschel Bernardi is always great. I wish that guy had done more movies.
We agree on something.

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« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2017, 07:49:54 AM »

it is demential.
Maybe you mean "demented"? Or do you just like to make up words for the hell of it?

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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2017, 12:43:07 PM »

Maybe you mean "demented"? Or do you just like to make up words for the hell of it?

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/demential


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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2017, 02:27:42 PM »

Quote
Rare
. As in only used by tits after the 19th Century.

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