Classic Film Review: Claude Misses His Mark

Murder by Contract (1958) directed by Irving Lerner • Reviews ...

Murder By Contract is a film noir thriller that was released in 1958.  Irving Lerner is the director with Ben Simcoe listed as writer.  Vince Edwards plays a somewhat philosophical hit man named Claude saving up to buy a house.  Phillip Pine, Herschel Bernadi, and Caprice Toriel are also part of the cast.

Claude is a contract killer who doesn’t use a gun but dispatches his victims in a variety of ways.  After proving his efficiency at the beginning of the film, two men hire him to kill a witness set to testify in a high profile trial.  Claude is somewhat hesitant when he learns his latest target is a woman.  Claude is an interesting character in that he would be described as am existentialist.  He has a somewhat perplexing moment where he snaps at a hotel server for an apparently lack of ambition or something and still gives him a fairly generous gratuity.

Claude is a somewhat interesting character.  The movie is acclaimed for being somewhat stripped down to basic movie making or something.  The soundtrack is pretty simple with a repetitive guitar riff throughout the film. The film has moments where it drags a bit though.  There are some interesting moments, but the ending didn’t really satisfy all that much.  I do appreciate the effort to see what could be done with the most basic elements of film making.  I am not sure if I need to see this movie again in order to appreciate something that I missed, but the first viewing didn’t exactly leave me in a rush to make another attempt.

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