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466 Ratings

Murder by Contract

Directed by Irving Lerner
United States, 1958
Crime, Drama, Film noir


Claude is a young man with a regular job, no history of trouble with the law and no chance of making any real money. He also has the brains and emotional detachment to make the big bucks as a hit man, and that becomes his new job title.

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Murder by Contract Directed by Irving Lerner

Critics reviews

Nothing is simple in Lerner’s lean, low budget 1958 masterpiece (shot in eight days), a noir of sorts, but something more cool (as in crisply composed) and modern that it’s hard to classify simply as noir.
July 13, 2018
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Much of the movie is taken up with the absorbing practicalities of murder… But, as in life itself, the absurd often comes to the fore, embodied here in the bumbling antics and colorful banter of Claude’s two handlers (Herschel Bernardi and Phillip Pine), who seem refracted from Hemingway’s story “The Killers.” Lerner directs with a wary neutrality that leaves judgment aside; he lets the killer speak his piece, resulting in a few politicized surprises.
September 13, 2013
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Although it’s belatedly become available on Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. 1 (along with two other particular favorites, The Big Heat and 5 Against the House), Murder by Contract (1958) doesn’t quite qualify as an undiscovered gem. But it’s certainly neglected in terms of some of its singular virtues, including a sharp Zen-like wit and a minimalist style.
March 21, 2010
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