This Gun for Hire

Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire (dir. Frank Tuttle, 1942).

Veronica Lake.

Laird Cregar and Alan Ladd.

I hadn't watched this in a few years, and I had forgotten its flaws. For the first two thirds or so, it's crackling with hard-boiled energy (though there are inert patches here as well), but then we get the stuff about the hitman Raven's loveless childhood, a bunch of wartime we're-all-in-this-together hooey, and from there it's a predictable slope downward to the cheeseball ending. But even in the last third, there are some great moments, such as Ladd in a gas mask leading cowardly boob Laird Cregar to his doom. Other highlights: Ladd ripping Pamela Blake's dress and slapping her silly when she abuses his pet kitten; Pamela Blake hissing like a cat herself in response; Veronica Lake singing a sublimely silly song about magic tricks while doing magic tricks; Laird Cregar shuddering and blubbering the way he does.

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