One of the most influential noir works of the 1940s, This Gun for Hire is based on the 1936 Graham Greene novel A Gun for Sale. W.R. Burnett and Albert Maltz's screenplay focuses on the exploits of psychotic hitman Philip Raven (Alan Ladd). Double-crossed by nightclub owner Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) and crooked chemical tycoon Alvin Brewster (Tully Marshall), Raven heads forLos Angeles with revenge on his mind. The illicit manufacture of chemical agents for Japanese export, a sultry nightclub illusionist Ellen Graham (Veronica Lake) and her sometime boyfriend and police officer Lieutenant Michael Crane (Robert Preston) complicate Raven's plans. Characteristic elements of the noir visual style - expressive use of light and shadow, unsettling camera angles and a pervasive sense of doom - are deployed by Tuttle and cinematographer John Seitz to fabulous effect. Notable for the pairing of Ladd and Lake in the first of their three memorable noir appearances (The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia), This Gun for Hire is also historically significant in the hitman sub-genre. As the kiddy-friendly, cat-loving, impassively cold killer, Ladd has influenced performances in everything from Jean-Pierre Melville's 1967 French classic Le Samourai to Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog and Michael Mann's Collateral. Watch Philip Raven in action and appreciate where it all began.
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