Murder by Contract (1959)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Whodunit  |   Run Time - 81 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Bruce Eder

Claude (Vince Edwards) is an educated, respectable young man with a goal in life -- to buy a house that he has his eye on; but to do that on the money he makes in his office job could take 25 years, so he chooses to embark on a new profession, as a hired assassin. A cold-blooded, thoroughly professional killer, he does his work quickly and efficiently and establishes himself as a top trouble-shooter for the particular mob that employs him, even disposing of his immediate superior when he becomes a liability to the higher-ups. But then he takes a new contract to dispose of the key witness in a federal trial; he flies out to Glendale, CA, and meets the two local hoods, George (Herschel Bernardi) and Marc (Phillip Pine), who are supposed to show him the hit, and it takes their getting used to his methodical way of working, which includes days of seeing the sights and recreation just to see if they're being followed. All goes well until Claude discovers that the target he is to kill is a woman. As he explains, women are too unpredictable in their behavior, and this particular woman, Billie Williams (Caprice Toriel), a nightclub singer and pianist, is particularly erratic. Claude is almost ready to abandon the hit, but he doesn't want to walk out on a contract, especially as that could get him killed. He tries one basic method of assassination that's very clever but also too dependent on events he can't predict, and it fails; then he rigs a hit with George and Marc's help that seems letter-perfect and foolproof, until he discovers that it failed because of the intervention of someone -- another woman -- that no one could have predicted. Finally, he's forced to get Marc and George out of the way before they kill him, and he goes for the target once more. It's then that we discover the one serious chink in Claude's seemingly impervious, steely psychic armor.



hitman, killing