MURDER BY CONTRACT

year: 1957
cast: Vince Edwards
rating: **1/2

Metronomic character-study of a professional hitman is interesting at times, dull at others. Scenes with a calculating yet creative professional killer played by handsomely bulky Vince Edwards offing folks with hypnotic jazz (a baritone guitar version of THE THIRD MAN theme) in the background is quite a treat. Having proven his worth with clean, efficient hits he's given a big job in L.A. to terminate a woman who will appear in court, and has a couple days to do it. Two men, who work for the main crime boss, tag along and try figuring out how he works. Edwards takes his sweet time without preparation: hanging out on the beach, deep sea fishing and playing golf... and the two tagalongs don't quite understand his habits: and why he isn't getting the job over with. These two paper-tiger thugs seem to have been created to fill empty space with dialogue. If this were made twenty years later we'd probably go deeper into the killer's brain; instead, having been made in the fifties when there were limitations on anti-hero films, and this not being a paramount vehicle within the groundbreaking genre, we're left with what seems like half a movie.

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