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Murder by Contract

Posted by martinteller on January 27, 2010

A spectacular B-movie noir about a hitman with a difficult assignment.  Vince Edwards is glorious as the cold, calculating, philosophical killer.  Watching him coolly go about his work with detachment and precision is gripping.  Director Irving Lerner tells the story with economy and flair, constructing a number of memorable sequences.  The “waiting for the call” montage is a clear influence on Taxi Driver… indeed, Martin Scorsese is a big fan of the film.  One of the most striking elements is the score: jaunty jazz guitar, very reminiscent of (and probably inspired by) The Third Man.  The music builds and takes on a driving rhythm as the narrative becomes more tense.  I got a huge kick out of this unique and compelling film.  A few really shoddy rear projection shots and a somewhat annoying secondary character are the only notable flaws in this otherwise spellbinding treat.  There are times when it seems like a chore going through the TSPDT 1000 list, but movies like this remind me why it’s worth the effort.  Rating: 9


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