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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I understand now why Martin Scorsese admired so much Irving Lerner. With a simple guitar melody playing while Vince Edwards is dressing up, Irving Lerner emerges as a one of a kind director. The rest of Murder by Contract is in accordance with this mythical beginning. Masterpiece.
Martin Scorcese was right. The soundtrack is unusual. The titles are unusual. The main character is unusual. If you like different movies, then this is the movie for you. It has a style all it's own. Vince Edwards is money.
There is something very odd about Murder by Contract; from Vince Edward's existential hitman and Perry Botkin's singular guitar soundtrack to New Wave-esq camera flourishes. For an unpolished, at times ludicrous, Noir B-Movie, Murder by Contrast is entirely fascinating. You can see Scorcese's infatuation with the film in Taxi Driver as Claude & Travis exist as kindred spirits, compulsive in their pursuits. Ace.
Interestingly odd crime film, but not the 'masterpiece' that Scorsese and others hail it as. It's not really a 'Noir' either. Low budget B-movie aesthetics tether a story which touches, in an elliptical, somewhat absurd sense, on notions of existentialism and the death urge. Sure, it's quite dark, but the tonal shifts to the slightly humorous dialogue don't gel, and the ending seems rushed and rather unsatisfying.
Si Robert Bresson hubiera incursionado en el cine negro americano, seguramente el resultado sería Murder by Contract; una película minimalista y seca protagonizada por un criminal existencialista. La escena donde Claude expone su filosofía del crimen es impresionante, al igual que la discusión con el mesonero acerca de la rigurosidad.
A laid-back yet acerbic B-movie noir. The feeling of this flick is just so unique. At moments it's slice-of-life, other moments down-and-dirty, but it all flows perfectly together. The soundtrack is like a nasty echo of the zither from the The Third Man.