THIS GUN FOR HIRE BLU RAY REVIEW

Graham Greene was the greatest writer of the 20th century. Bold claim but one I stand by without hesitation. He reflected the era. its people, politics, economics and the spiral from war to war, boom to bust. Even his lesser works like A GUN FOR SALE, written in 1936 evaluated the era’s lack of a moral centre and also its charge landscape of ideology and violence. Then in 1942 along came the film version. An American Film Noir  directed by Frank Tuttle, a master of the genre and starring Alan Ladd and Vernoica Lake.

Ladd plays as Phillip Raven, the assassin or Gun for hire of the piece. He kills a chemist for a company but after being paid off by slick slime Gates (Laird Cregar), he has found that those dollar bills are hot. Now everyone is looking for him. He skips town and ends up on a train to Los Angeles with Ellen (Lake). She does not want to help but is compelled to try and make Raven chances better after spending time with him. The problem is her boyfriend Micheal (Robert Preston) is a cop and the one directly on the case to find Raven at all costs.

To call it as the LA times did ‘A success’ is truly an understatement.  THIS GUN FOR HIRE left an indelible mark on the film noir stable and its legacy is long and still felt.  But my interest is in Ladd and Lake. This film led to three more outings with Ladd and its easy to see why. They fizzle onscreen. He is hard and cold, she is tough an fiery. The audience loved it and it adds a strangle erotic dimension to the film.

DISC

Let me make it clear to you now and now only. I have the DVD and this is not a markedly huge step up. This is not to say it is not a worthwhile expense for film fans just do not expect the miracle and then be short changed.  I noticed that the depth of field (you can see the LA skyline clear for instance) is remarkable in comparison but the original version on DVD and this is not a mammoth leap forward. This is because the studio keep films well and this was a big hit.

EXTRAS

Right top 3 time.

The best thing here is “This Gun for Hire” episode of Lux Radio Theater with the voices of Alan Ladd and Joan Blondell. You can hear the lack of chemistry and also emotional resonance. It is a fascinating exploration. Audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin comes in second. Not heavy. Not unbalanced. Just verging on a book, written for bedtime. Lacks energy and punch. A collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film writer and journalist Barry Forshaw, and film writer Craig Ian Mann. Mann in particular has the Greene conversation and it is worthwhile for fans.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a 4K scan of the original film elements
  • Uncompressed LPCM 2.0 audio
  • Audio commentary by film scholar Adrian Martin
  • “This Gun for Hire” episode of Lux Radio Theater with the voices of Alan Ladd and Joan Blondell
  • “This Gun for Hire” episode of The Screen Guild Theater with the voices of Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake
  • Theatrical trailer
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing by film writer and journalist Barry Forshaw, and film writer Craig Ian Mann

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